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Smuttynose Big A IPA - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,598 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,598
Reviews: 884
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.83%
Wants: 91
Gots: 99 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  9.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2002

Ever since Stash Wojciechowski, the “Killer Kielbasa,” created this Imperial IPA for our Big Beer Series, Big A IPA has gotten a lot of attention. Lauded by the New York Times and Men's Journal Magazine, it’s been one of the most talked-about beers around. Brewed in very small quantities, it has also been one of the hardest-to-find. Until now.

Big A IPA has everything you’d want in an India Pale Ale, only more: more hops, more malt & more flavor. Na zdrowie!

120 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,598 | Reviews: 884 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kegerator
5/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this is one dam good beer.
pours a slightly hazy coppery orange with hints of ruby when held to the light. Forms a decent 1 inch head that is sticky and creamy and sticks around a good while leaving nice lacing
aroma is big hops, citrusy grapefruit and floral with hints of alcohol and a nice malt profile lingers as well
taste was so so at first until it warmed up a bit then it all hell broke loose :). Nice floral and citrus flavors make up the bulk of this brew followed by a carmel sweet malt hit and a nice warming from the alcohol. it finishes dry and crisp and was very drinkable. I should have bought two.

Photo of Buildscharacter
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Didn't know much about this beer other than the fact that I hadn't had it yet. Gotta applaud Smuttynose for their arremt at an DIPA.

Recently there's been quite a few of them out there, and I liked this one.

Pours out looking very much like a Miller...yes.. a miller. I wasn't too pleased at first. Same color, same head. The head goes away about a min into drinking the beer. The aroma isn't what I would have figured with such a hoppy brew, but the taste truly makes up for whatever it's lacking in aroma.
Not that there isn't aroma, but I guess the hops that they use are a little less pungent that what I'm used to from other breweries. Not a bad thing, but if you really enjoy having your socks blown off whem you sniff the bottle this isn't for you.

As for the taste, it's smooth in the mouth with a warm floral taste with bitterness (in a good way) washing in afterwards. It's fairly thick in the mouth so it goes down and hides the alcohol quite nicly.

Overall I enjoyed this beer and would get it again.

Photo of Jacobob10
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2005 Version

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22 oz. bottle, the first half of the pour resulted in a cloudy orange color with a small diminishing head. After I drank the first half of the beer, the next half produced a much more profound head, white in color with fantastic retention. For all of the hops used in this beer (120 IBU!), the aroma is fairy subtle, mostly consisting of citrus fruits. The taste is very good but the alcohol is definitely present which hurts its drinkablility a little bit. Medium to full body with an oily, creamy texture. It has a moderately bitter finish but nothing too extreme.

I was expecting this beer to be a little more over the top and was really surprised by how subtle the taste and aroma were. Don't get me wrong, it is definitely a "big" beer that is very strong, but it didn't have the "oomph" I was hoping it would. Give it a shot.

Photo of Naes
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It looks like a dark copper, with a large sticky white head.

Smell is fruity and hopy.

Taste is full of hops followed by the fruitiness. It seems just like their normal IPA but has extra hops and less fruit.

Mouth feel is medium to full bodied and leaves a semi thick film in the mouth.

It’s a good drinkable beer, but I don’t think I will have another. It’s just a little too fruity for me.

I think this one is of high quality, but too similar to their normal IPA. It’s definitely worth a try.

Photo of kmpitz2
4.52/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Big thanks to warriorsoul for this. Tom is as good a trader as they come.

This beer pours a hazy orange color with a finger of head that falls to a moderate coating over top of the liquid. The nose is awesome. Chewey, grapefruit and bubblegum sweetness. Caramel malt base. Everything works very well together in the nose. The flavor is just as nice. I could handle a touch more hop flavor and even a hint more bitterness, but the caramel sweetness and citrusy hop meld well and produce a really nice flavor. There is just a light bitter that hangs on to the finish. The feel is thick with a light carbonation. Very nice. Drinkability is huge. I'm plowing through this glass and the 9% can't be detected by any sense. This is a top of the line Double IPA. The flavors are big, but not obtrusive at all. Nothing impedes the drinkability of this one.

Photo of clvand0
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kmpitz2 for sharing this one and thanks to warriorsoul for sending it to him. Pours an orange color with a medium head that falls quickly and leaves lots of lacing on the glass. The aroma is huge with the hops. Big citrus, pine. The flavor is super smooth. The hops are extremely well balanced with the caramel malt flavors. Great balance. Quite a bit of hop flavors on the finish, but not over the top. Very nice. Mouthfeel is moderate. Drinkability is good.

Photo of PatandDavid
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared a bomber of this with David. Poured it myself into two pint glasses and got some lovely tangerine goodness topped with 1/2 inch of thick white foam. It's since disipated. Aroma is reminiscent of oranges, but a big whiff reveals some alcohol burn. Tastewise I am finding some citrus hops (oranges and grapefruit), but what sets this one apart is the mouthfeel:the carbonation is rather prickly, hold it too long and it may feel like you do have pine needles on your tongue. I enjoyed this, but should stop at half the bottle...you know it's 9 percent. 2005 edition.

Photo of HappyHourHero
3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Long distance pour to get a dense, moderatly large, cream colored head that left a sheet of lace as it quickly faded. Hazy deep copper colored beer shows few signs of carbonation within. Faint, sugary grapefruit aroma. Big solid malt base on this one. Mildly sweet up front with some delicate citrusy (orange & grapefruit) hops on top. Fairly strong, bitter grapefruit flavor kicks in midway through and sticks to the back of your tongue. Finish is pretty alcoholic, and I'm not a big fan of the bitter aftertaste. I like my hops to dominate an IIPA, and in this case the hop are hard to pick up in the nose and they barely rise above the alcohol in the flavor. Overall a it's a big beer with a splash of hops.

Photo of MrSeth
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

BeerPanther recommended this one with great enthusiasm, and having tried it I can see why. Slainte Va.

Lots of lace and a big creamy ring of suds.

For an IPA it has great balance and lives up to its "Big A" name. Smells a bit gardeny, vegetal. That seems to be the case with alot of Smuttynose's brews. It's no turn-off, just different. The taste starts with tangy citrus-zest, then a maltiness that doesn't back down.. this is an IPA drinker's IPA. There is a saline-like savory middle. A strong alcoholic undertone emerges towards the end. Finishes long and bitter, almost puckering, but not. It's actually a refreshing ale, especially given it's heavy body. You can enjoy this one even on hot summer days.

Photo of board45
4.26/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber
Bottle conditioned in 2005

Pours a golden/amber with a frothy white, whip-cream like head. The smell isnt to fragrant. You can smell hints of orange and a bit of pine. Nothing to over bearing. As I endulge into this brew I get thrown back. The taste along with the smell reminds me of driving down the Kancamagus Highway. The strong smell of pine and all of the beautiful flowers and foliage. This flows down like the SwiftRiver, hitting every boulder and rock in its way. Every boulder being a shot of different aromas and tastes from a citus cocktail. Though i do taste a faint hint of clove. My taste buds are screaming to let go of all of this flavor. Will it release???...waiting...still waiting...there it goes a finish of beauty. Give me more, GIVE ME MORE!!

Photo of craigasaurus
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an English style pint glass from a 22 oz. brown bottle.

I was kind of disappointed by this, because I like the Smutties that I've had in the past, especially their regular IPA. This poured out nice, with a rich amber color and thick foamy head, but the aroma wasn't as citric as I'd expect from a high-octane IPA. I'm not huge into the puckering hop blast, but I like the tart complexity they bring. I suppose the stong IPAs I've had in the past have been more west coast style? It's not that this was a bad beer, just not what I was expecting. The alcohol was a little to present for this to be quenching - and actually it was quite drying. Not as luscious as I'd hoped it would be. Maybe the the alocoholic strength played havoc with the complexity of the hops and just left behind the bitterness, because it was not so well balanced or drinkable.

I might grab another one to lay down for a year or two; maybe that will help to round out the flavors.

Photo of jakester
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer in a 22oz bomber. Label says "bottle conditioned in 2005". Has some old time white boxer in his black undies throwing a left jab but dropping his right! Keep your hands up, boy!

Beer pours a light orange color, slightly hazy from sediment on the bottom. Fair carbonation is evident. 3/4" rocky off white head drops to @ 1/8 " in 3-4 minutes. Lacing is there most of the way down, but not sip-countable lacing.

Fairly strong citrus/floral aroma; grapefruit, old lemons. Malt aroma is muted, way in the back. A hint of alcohol. Hop aroma fades after a bit.

This is pretty well balanced for a double IPA, if that is what this is. Strong hop bitterness hits you first, then the malt sweetness tries to cover it up a bit. Not a lot of hop flavor, but what is there is pleasant; citrusy/piney, kind of like SNPA. Alcohol can definitely be detected after a few minutes.

Mouthfeel has a pleasant level of bitterness. Every IPA should be so bitter! Malt is on the thin side, not sweet at all, but enough to balance. Carbonation level is on style. Slight tongue coating resins fade quickly. Alcohol warmth is right there. This'll knock your dick in the dirt!

Overall, a very drinkable brew. For a DIPA, I like them a lot hoppier, but that's me. If I was stranded on a desert island, and this was the only beer, I'd be a happy guy. Three Floyds Dreadnaught, I'd never need sex again!

Photo of axisjones
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a highball, a tanwy orange with perfect clarity and a steady stream of bubbles. A gorgeous rocky white head tops it off and settles to a quarter inch on top. This is a posterboy beer for IPAs. It just looks fantastic.

The smell is hoptastic. Really rich grapefruit and citrus aroma with some pine and floral aromas stuffed in for good measure. If you are a hophead you would drooling at this point.

DAMN! The taste really hits hard and up front. As the hop resins coat your tongue in a oilslick of hop goodness, the bitterness kicks it in overdrive. Everything the smell is and oh so much more. Sweetness and citrusy, you will be burping up pine needles. But don't think that this beer is just a hopbomb. The malt really comes into play and gives this a biscuity finish. For a double IPA, there is an attempt at balance and I can respect that. For a 9% the alcohol isn't very apparent.

This is a double IPA, what should I say about drinkability. I have a bomber here and I am a happy man. Once I am done with this, I will probably be good for the night. IBUs off the chart and an ABV of 9, this is no budlight. Drink with caution, it will kick your ass.

Thanks so much to Bierman9 for the gift. It's awesome, I'm gonna have to send some goodies your way.

Photo of warriorsoul
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had to travel up to Portsmouth to grab this one before it hit the shelves in MA....definitely not questioning my preemptive strike.
Only $2.49 a bomber locally...sweet!
Labeled "Bottle conditioned in 2005"
Pours a surprisingly clear light copper w/ a full finger of off-white head...lacing is sparse but has some nice cling.
Aroma is packed with sweet malts and some fruity hops.
Taste is one bitter hop monster...much less harsh than last years version. The hops are mostly citrus...w/ a nice solid malt backbone keeping this one balanced. Alcohol is not detected until the last few swallows.
Mouthfeel could be thicker...a bit thin for its style, but the carbonation is perfect.
Drinkability is above average, despite the 8% ABV.
A solid offering from Smutty...better balanced and slightly more enjoyable (for me) compared to last year's offering...IMHO.

Photo of ColForbin
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber; 2005 Vintage.

Big A IPA pours a slightly hazy medium golden color with a thick fluffy white head that sticks to the side of the glass and holds to about a half cm on top of the beer. Aroma is amazing - smells like the hop fridge at a homebrew shop. Piney, spicy and citrusy all in one. Taste is very hoppy and bitter, with the more floral hops up front and the pine bringing up the rear, along with a thick body to hold all of this together. Don't let anyone tell you this beer has a hop/malt balance - this is a hophead's beer through and through. Extremely drinkable, and deceptively hides its alcohol percentage.

Should be an interesting beer to cellar, and kudos to Smuttynose for putting the bottling year on the bottle so I don't have to get out my Sharpie.

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.28/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Licking a leather belt.

Poured a hazy copper penny color with a thick and foamy head. The head was thick enough to never quite recede as I drank from my imperial pint glass. Piney hops come through in the nose.

The tatse is wicked hops. Like an old leather belt. Lots of citrus, especially grapefruit. Followed by a nice caramel malty balance. Not exactly evenly balanced but enough to keep me from saying this beer is over the top. Mouthfeel has a very full body with a mouth-lacquering, creamy finish. Very satisfying, but I had to concede after one bomber.

Photo of brewandbbq
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage

Poured clear, brassy gold with full, thick eggshell head.
Pungent, aggressive in the nose, with alcohol.
Pineapple, tangerine zest, grapefruit pith, and pine sap, steeped in alcohol.
Aromatics finish with a submissive malt note and orange blossom honey.
Crisp, drying, and bitter on the pallet.
Thick and spicey with citrusy hops.
A melange of fruit candy and numbing lupulin flavors, with a humble malt character.
Bitterness is smooth and well balanced, keeping unfermentables in check.
Alcohol not shy here, a real hop coctail.
Finishes dry with a lingering bitterness and warming alcohol.

This years Big "A" is the biggest yet, closer to 10% ABV, and unapolgetic with its hop assault.
If Smutty's IPA is referred to as "Finest Kind"-ayuh, then Big "A" could easily carry the moniker "Besteva, yessa".

Photo of medic25
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hazy orange color, with a big white head that quickly settles. On the final pour also put out quite a bit of sediment that floated for quite a while. Aroma is a nice blend of malt and hops. Big blast of hops flavor on the first sip, with subtle fruity aftertaste. Little bit of an oily feel on the mouth. Enjoyable enough double IPA; not something I'd drink everyday, but when I get that occasional hops craving it would certainly do the job.

Photo of mmmbeer
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz., unfiltered, with no freshness date, but the website says the last batch was made at the end of August '04 (I bought several and cellared this bottle... I wasn't an official BA or taking notes on beers at the time so I'm not really sure what effect the aging had on it). Pours a hazy orange/copper with a 2 finger, light brown, almost creamy head that leaves some lacing. Big biscuit/nut/caramel aroma with lots of hops that contribute pine, grapefruit, and perfume notes and there is a touch of alcohol. The flavor is huge in both malts and hops and it resembles the scent. Also, the malts are at times sweet but they are balanced by a fairly intense bitterness that lingers forever and the body is full and smooth, coating the mouth well. Toward the end there are some tropical aromas and flavors along with some coffee. At 9% and 100 IBUs, (and about $3) one of these bottles makes a very nice nightcap.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours from the bomber a bright reddish orange with a cragly, fluffy two finger head. Delicate rings of lacing coat the side of the glass. Inviting. Hybrid grapefruit citrus pinecone hops waft up into the nose. Candy sweetness with just a hint of caramel.

A nice wave of earthy, piney, citric hop flavors coats the tongue. Caramel, bready malt follows along with a nice hit of bitter on the way down. Alcohol esters peek in and out. A nice double IPA by Smutty...I could still use a bit more hop flavor in there though.

Mouthfeel has a nice, full and creamy body. Satisfying. One bomber is enough for me...but it is enjoyable to drink and goes down easy. I look forward to trying more of the Big Beer Series. Many thanks to dmeadows for the opportunity!

Photo of RBorsato
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange-ish copper color with a full pillowy beige head, lots of suspended sediment, and highly carbonated. Makes for a hurricane effect and leaves sheets of lace. Big bitter piney hop aroma. Big resiny hop flavors with a big malt balance but leaves big hop burps. Very airy and feels light due to high carbonation levels at first but becomes medium-full bodied eventually with a very dry bitter finish.

Per Label: "Smuttynose Big Beer Series"

Per Smuttynose website: Malt: Pale (2-row) malt, Belgian pale ale malt, Aromatic malt
ABV - 9%
Hops: IBU - 100
Bittering - Magnum and Cascade
Flavoring - Horizon
Aroma - Ahtanum
Dry Hopping - Columbus

08/30/04 Edition
Tasted: 01/10/05

(22 oz.)

Photo of CRJMellor
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky, amber color with some orange tints. Huge, fluffy off-white head has lots of retention and kicks off some solid patches of lace.
Aroma is full on citrus attack with some medium sweet malts that adds to the fruity aromas.
Flavors of caramel, pale malt and aggressively citrus and hay-like hop bittering. Flavors kind of counteract each other and aren't fully complimentary.
Mouthfeel is pretty "chewy" with medium sweet that slides into grainy and gritty agressively hopped middle and finish. Very dry, almost salty with a touch of alcohol present.
Drinkability is solid. This doesn't rank up with the biggest of IPA's but its a well-crafted if somewhat one-dimensional brew.

Photo of ManekiNeko
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber served chilled in a pint glass.

Appearance: Hazy dark amber topped by a tall and thick pillowy yellowed head. Very frothy with awesome retention: the head never left. Thick specks and rings of lacing were left, but it wasn't as impressive as other IIPA's I've seen.

Smell: Grapefruity citrus out the wazoo. Hints of white gummi bears. Malts are not so prominent. Very hoppy, obviously, but not as complex a blend as I've seen in others of this style.

Taste: Wonderfully brash hop flavors of citrus and spicy peppers which slightly overpowered the sweetness of juicy caramelized malts and toasted breadiness.

Mouthfeel: Solid welterweight in body. Refreshing, but still substantial.

Drinkability: Damn but Smuttynose maketh one helluva IPA, either version. If I find myself with a hoppy itch in need of scratchin', I'd certainly put Smuttynose on the short list of beers to take care of it.

Photo of jtw5877
4.85/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice orange hue with a nice white fluffy head. The aroma is a magnificent testimony to hoppy goodness. The hopiness stays there all the way through to the aftertaste. Enough malt to back things up but this is a hop lovers beer all the way. I'd recommend this to anybody who likes IPA's IIPA's or hoppy Barleywines. Truely an exceptional beer.

Photo of Southernbrew
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark orange with a big, bubbly head.

Tons of hops in the nose. Spicy hops blend with sugary sweetness and a pineapple-like aroma, strange.

Medium body with plenty of carbonation. Big spicy hops up front along with a light alcohol flavor. The middle becomes slightly sweet then finishes up with plenty of bitterness. A fine Double IPA, not my favorite, but a nice change of pace from the pine bombs I've been drinking. I will say the alcohol is not quite hidden enough.

Thanks to Nickbagofdonuts for bringing this back for me.

Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,598 ratings.