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Smuttynose Big A IPA - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,535 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,535
Reviews: 876
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.83%
Wants: 90
Gots: 74 | 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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,535 | Reviews: 876 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Significantly hazy, dusky orange-amber with loads of suspended particulates. The large head is dark cream in color, firm and reasonably sticky. Lace adheres to the glass in clumps and comes to resemble dried soap suds. The cap is taking so long to fall (slurp) that I'm having trouble getting a solid read on the nose. Eventually...

... the aroma has the usual citrus fruit and pine notes that many DIPAs have, but it's a bit shy in the power department. The hoppiness is blunted by a great deal of maltiness. Not a good omen for the flavor.

I'm not overly impressed with Big A on the palate. Compared with most others of the style, an intense, pungeant hoppiness is lacking. It's definitely a bitter beer, but isn't anywhere close to bursting with hop flavor. The hops taste like they're mired in a river of caramel (malt) and there are solvent/lacquer-like notes that aren't all that appealing.

A full, slick, almost oily mouthfeel contributes to the lacquer-like impression. I wouldn't mind so much if the beer was more highly-hopped. The alcohol isn't particularly well-hidden either. It doesn't ruin things, but is too prominent a part of the flavor profile as far as I'm concerned.

Big A should have been great. With the hop bill that has been assembled (Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo) I'm amazed that the brewers weren't able create a more impressive DIPA. I forgive them though because the just-released 'Finest Kind' is one of the best IPAs on the planet. This beer is decent, but given the circumstances, has to be classified as a disappointment. Thanks to mikeys01 for the bottle.

BuckeyeNation, May 24, 2004
Photo of Quaffer
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on cask at the Blind Tiger in New York.

Appearance: Golden, orange-amber in color with a typical cask head. There were hints of lace left on the glass, but not much.

Smell: The smell was very hoppy, but there was a definite malt presence underneath, giving a nice depth to the aroma.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very smooth.

Taste: Huge hop flavor and an accompanying bitterness dominated this beer. Hints of malt floated around, but not enough to balance this one out; it was extremely heavy on the hops. One thing that really stood out was a very strong, sweet fruitiness that emerged on the finish and almost dominated the hops bitterness. It was that fruity component that kept this beer from being completely over-the-top in the hop department.

Quaffer, May 01, 2004
Photo of counselor
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a nice deep golden amber color with a frothy head. smells of fresh grapefruit and lemon/grass. nice hoppy nose. Mouthfeel is a little thinner than the 90 min/ruination and other premium IPAs, nevertheless this is a grood drinking beer, maybe even better for a session. Good malts, backed up quickly by nice biting hops that leave a squeaky feeling around the teeth. IPA flavors linger, asking for another gulp to refresh. Nice offering from Smutty, probably the best yet from them

counselor, Apr 20, 2004
Photo of Billolick
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bomber bottle, no freshness dating. Pours golden with cloudy orange hues. Nose of griany/resiny hops. Minimal white head, tiny bubble film. Nice malty brew, with a spicy hop after burner. Alcohol obvious, but well in the background. Medium body, smooth mouthfeel. Not as rich and chewy as others of this style, but still nice stuff and worth giving a try.

Billolick, Apr 02, 2004
Photo of Edwin
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a 22oz bottle.

Appearance - Poured a hazy orange/gold color. Nice white head to start and then it thinned, but it stayed on top. Did not see any unfiltered residue in the glass.

Smell - Smelled of hops, some fruit/citrus notes, and pine or grass. Also picked up a smell similar to autumn leaves in there. Strange and rather strong.

Taste - More bitter than I imagined it would be. The citurs in the beer seemed to be pushed away by the bitterness of the hops. Also, I get a bread-like taste on the end. An interesting mix.

Mouthfeel - This was smooth, but the end left a bitterness on the back of the tongue that initially made me cringe a bit. Did not detect a huge alcohol tinge in there, either.

Drinkability - Not a bad offering, but may be slightly more bitter than some would like. Once you're used to it, the beer goes down easier. That being said, I would probably go one and done on this one. Hope to sample it on tap soon and give it another go.

Edwin, Mar 31, 2004
Photo of MediocreatBest
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I don't normally review beers because i feel i still don't know enough to write a good review, but this beer, woah! The smoothest IIPA out there in my opinion so i feel i must write a review. The appearence and smell are not over powering like you would expect from an IIPA, but to be honest, till i read it was an Imperial, i would of thought it was a regular IPA. If you're a hop head this won't blow you out of the water like Ruination or 120 minute, but for balance and drinkability it is outstanding. Lace lingers forever, and is even requires scrubbing to come off the glass. The mouth feel is very light, almost feels like it could use a slight bit more carbonation, but as it is, is fantastic. The taste is slightly grapefruit-ish, and the hops dont burn your tounge, though you do still get sight "hop burps" if ya know what i mean. The 8% ABV is so well hidden it's like drinking soda....and speaking of that is there was an IIPA you could pound/chug (not that i would want to) this would be it, thats how subtle and well balanced it is. Again for many hop heads this isnt a good thing, but for those of us whose tounges burn even after some reglar IPAs, this double IPA is wicked good....and for a new englander, wicked good, is as good as it gets...

MediocreatBest, Mar 20, 2004
Photo of longpondbeerman
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Out of the classic bomber with "the bomber, big A" on the label, this Imperial IPA pours a luscious clear and sparkling reddish-amber with a sprightly medium white head. Not much lace, but a good hoppy aroma with citrus esters, which are characteristic of the style, but there's lots of complex sweetness roaming about. I'm intrigued. The alcohol is noticeable more in the taste than in the smell, and the bitter grapefruit hops are, of course, dominant at the initial sip. The finish is sharp, too, but there returns an underlying floral taste that helps to balance it off--finally. The mouthfeel is medium thick, but the carbonation makes this brassier than most. I like.

longpondbeerman, Mar 18, 2004
Photo of beerluvr
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Emerges from the bomber bottle with a fluffy and tight off-white head. Settles out over hazy golden amber liquid. The nose is filled with sweet fragrant maltiness tinged with light notes of toffee. Some grapefruity/citrusy and flowery hoppiness flows in behind the malt. There's plenty of sharp, bright hop bitterness apparent at first tasting. The bitterness is followed by biscuit-like maltiness turning sweet late in the swallow. It finishes quite bitter and fruity with a powerful alcohol kick as it fades away slowly. A well done, nicely balanced big IPA. A winner!

beerluvr, Feb 19, 2004
Photo of alexgash
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another bottle brought to me by chaduvel. Gracias! The weird fellow on the bottle is staring me down, wanting to fight. Whatever weird oily man. Pours a hazy orange-copper with sticky, cottony-white head. Pretty aromatic; rich toffee malt and big, piney, resinous hops. However, more bitter than floral. Taste is oily, caramel malt, followed by very bitter spruce hops. More evergreen than lemon tree. Alcohol is there, and the finish is sticky-sweet, but mostly bitter. Not a bad big IPA, but I've had better.

alexgash, Feb 17, 2004
Photo of TripelJ
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now Quaffing: Smuttynose Big A IPA

A big thanks to dpend for suprising the hell outta me with this one!

Pours a cloudy copper/gold with an extremely dense white head. The head recedes quickly, but leaves a nice quarter-inch layer that stays throughout the beer adding a nice creaminess to the mouthfeel. The aroma is sweet and citrusy, suprisingly mellow for an "imperial IPA". The taste is juicy-citrus hops riding on a mellow malt backbone, with a nice turn for the bitter in the tail end with yet another prominent dose of hops. I know there was a recipie change (as per the brewer's notes on Smuttynose's website) for 2003, but I couldn't tell from the bottle which recipie I was tasting. They say the new one has less of an English and more of a West Coast U.S. feel. This IPA has both English and American IPA characteristics, with neither being dominant, but rather working together harmoniously. My first experience with Smuttynose and overall, I am very impressed.

TripelJ, Feb 11, 2004
Photo of Foxman
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a honey orange, perhaps light amber, cloudy and bubbly. A lush white head builds creamily, then settles quickly to a diaphanous film, dotted by dense fizzy springs. A delicate, serpentine lacing meanders along the wall of the glass.

The aroma is hops first, and hops second and third. A dry citrus tone pervades, playing the dominant role, but letting an almost flowery sweetness to flirt through the few openings that float about. Malt is relegated to a structural role here, and there is some latent trace of alcohol.

At tasting, a considerable malt sweetness darts over the palate just before being overpowered by a tongue numbing grapefruit dry wash. The hops give ground slighty, and grudgingly, toward the middle to the underlying sweetness. Alcohol becomes apparent at the inhale of a sip, swirling into the sinuses. The finish stars a dry hop bitterness that lingers about the entire mouth. It's deceptively balanced, as the larger-than-life hops even out what otherwise might be a cloying malt-sugar punch.

Just slightly heavier than just medium bodied, it slithers and coats, leaving a far from slinky hops legacy across the mouth and tongue. The fullness and texture is almost tangible, and a hops tingle lingers long.

They hit it on the Smuttynose when they called this one big. As thick and overt as the hops are, they're necessary to counter the muscular malt sweetness. It stimulates every sense it touches, or rather pushes against. This is not the beer to come to for subtlety, but that's fine, because it never promises anything but in-your-face, sizeable flavor, and it comes through. Getting lost in the vast flavor is a risky endeavor due to the sturdy ABV, but it maintains its drinkability to justify one or two more, and sooner rather than later. The seal is cute, the name is cool, the label is unique, and the beer punches hard, leaving you hurting so good.

Foxman, Feb 06, 2004
Photo of SixpointJMH
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a nice slightly cloudy orange/amber colour with a great foamy head that is nice and sticky. smells mostly of hop, bread, and biscuit with some spices and fruit thrown in the mix. complex but balanced. the taste, while smiliar to the smell, is not quite as balanced and a bit too hoppy at the start for me. it then goes into a bread flavouring finishing very dry. still, a nicely flavoured medium bodied brew. mouthfeel is quite smooth and, while i would certainly sample this again, it's not something i'd run out to get nor would i go out of my way to find it, but it's a solid ipa nonetheless that's certainly worth a try and should be enjoyable for most ipa fans, it just missed slightly in a couple of areas for my tastes.

SixpointJMH, Jan 21, 2004
Photo of SheepNutz
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber poured into a pint glass. It pours a cloudy light orange with two fingers of head. There is lots of lacing left down the sides of the glass. The smell is very floral and full of citrus and hops. It is a very full aroma that just screams "Monster IPA!". The taste has just a slight bit of malt at the beginning, but then the hops kick in. It is intensely bitter, even more that most Imperial IPAs. It is a little too unbalanced toward the hops end, even for a double IPA. There is also that same citrus and floral flavors on the finish. The mouthfeel is fairly thick, and pretty smooth. The drinkability is also pretty good for an 8% brew. Not too shabby.

SheepNutz, Jan 11, 2004
Photo of gueuzeonhigh
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with an clear amber hue.
A nice textured bubbly foamy head reminds me of detergent suds.. appears, makes its presence known although sadly short lived in every glass I tried. As an added the bonus, the foamy head laces the walls of my tasting glass

Fruity hopped nose, but on subsequent pours it’s greatly subdued. A one nose stand!

Flavor is what I expect from an IPA, although the hops character isn’t as ‘up front” with a cutting bitterness and in your face as some of the stronger IPAs I’ve tried.

Nevertheless, the hops citrus fruitiness and somewhat duller bitter edge is supported by possble sweet malt underpinnings and some yeast signatures thrown in for good measure.

Acutally I like the malt being there. I think it's responsible for giving this beer more flavor body.

The finish is a long and lingering trail of all of the begining flavors that slowly receede and meld into the landscape of my tastebuds.

A bitter hops flavor remians giving this IPA a very cordial mouthfeel. A substantial flavor body sits on my palate making this IPA one that I’d reach for when presented with many other’s I’ve tried but can't quite remember.

Drinkablity is excellent.

I like! I like!

gueuzeonhigh, Jan 04, 2004
Photo of beergeek279
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 22 oz. bomber, into a pint glass. The color is golden, with a nice foamy head retention. The smell is a nice citrusy hop. The taste is quite malty for an IPA, with a nice bitter hop just coming through in the taste and leaving a bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is average. Drinkability-wise, could have a few.

A unique IPA, where there's actually malt present. Though not one of my personal favorites, this is a good beer nonetheless, and certainly one I'd have again.

beergeek279, Dec 31, 2003
Photo of Gusler
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer once unstowed from the bottle pours to a “Sumerian Tranced” orange color, heavily laden with dross, both in suspension and slowly settling to the bottom, head is gargantuan in size, creamy in consistency and the color a toothsome light tan and after transmogrification a thick and sticky sheet of lace forms to obscure the glass from view. Monstrous hop floral nose, citrus crisp, under pinned by the sweet malt, fresh and pleasing to the senses, start is thickly malt, lightly sweet and the top middling in feel. “ZAP, ZING, ZOW” hops slap your taste buds to life, massively hopped, delectably bitter to the senses, bleached desert bone dry. Hop spiciness remains till the very end then some, “Awesome” is a word that comes to mind.

Gusler, Dec 25, 2003
Photo of IrishRedRock
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. Somewhat cloudy orangey color. Sweet, sugary hoppy aroma, grapefruit in there as well. Mouthfeel is spot on, just a hint of carbonation. Bitter hop flavor but I wouldn't say this is a hop monster, not something that will destroy your taste buds. Too bad! I can't tell if its balanced well or just isn't as hoppy as I had expected. I think a little of both. Has some caramel flavor to balance the hops. Kind of a sweeter IPA. I've had better, I'll have better, but I am enjoying this one.

IrishRedRock, Dec 13, 2003
Photo of aaronh
4.7/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy orange amber body topped by a cream colored head of moderate size. Decent lacing clings to the side of the glass. Beautifully sweet floral hops blend almost perfectly with the malty goodness. On the tongue, it's a hop puree laced with hints of malty sweetness. Resinous pine, grapefruit, and rose hips assault the senses, as the malt body guards keep them from doing permanent damage. Mouthfeel is thick and robust, as is needed with the profusion of hops. This is immensely drinkable for those who love the power of the cone. But if you feel "mad hops" have more to do with basketball than great beers, this one may be a bit too strong. The Killer Kielbasa threw a knockout punch with this one. East Coast? Really? Niiice...

aaronh, Dec 06, 2003
Photo of nomad
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a murky orange turning almost copper with a soft pillow head. Had a checkerboard of stain from a wide wash of lace, bolstered by lots of champagne-like carbonation. A fair beauty in the glass, I say.

Smelled of rich honey on a body of moderate fruit scents, sometimes leaning toward bitter hop notes. The floral accents are large and far from delicate, combining with the malty scents for a rosy and appreciative beer. Sweet-ish but alluring, greatly helped by the amber malt behind the hops, I kinda like it.

Tasted of big bitterness and big juiciness: grapefruit, floral, pine, and some chalky dryness - a full load of what hops can do. Truly, this is a load of hop juice with many shades to it, though it is rounded out by a thick amber/caramel malt underneath and a touch of warming alcohol. A thicker mouthfeel and I rather like it that way, for it undergirds the hop profile well.

Sturdy, rough, and full, this is a well-made IPA and a great choice at its price and size ($3 for a 22 oz. bomber). Great label design, too. I tip my glass to Smuttynose!

nomad, Nov 23, 2003
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the 22oz bomber.

Pours a clear bright gold with a big lacy creamy white head. Smells of sweet hops and nothing else.

Hops taste is prominent. Very very hoppy and not much else. Can't taste much malt here. Light bodied with a big hops bitterness. Persistent hoppy aftertaste. Bold beer, if uncomplicated. Very drinkable, especially for 8%.

This beer has but one mission: batter your palette with hops and it does it well. Would be nice if the malt stood up better but still a very tasty IPA.

ViveLaChouffe, Nov 23, 2003
Photo of NeroFiddled
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big A's bright, resinous, piney, juicily citrus (orange!), and caramel-laced biscuit malt nose delivers a slap; and it doesn't back down from there! This is an aggressive beer that pulls no punches! It's frothy white head holds quite well, and it leaves sheets of lace throughout the glass. Its hazy, bronze body displays golden highlights and a miriad of suspended sediment that suggests that it has quite a full body to it. The mouthfeel backs that up with a solid body and gently zesty carbonation that's lightly crisp but warms to become creamy. The flavor revisits the piney hop flavors found in the aroma with a lighter citrus side and an increased appearance of alcohol over a slick, caramel, tofee, and honey-coated biscuit-like maltiness. It's sweet, but also dryish. The bitterness is bold but not overwhelming; and it actually balances the full maltiness quite nicely. The resinous quality of the hop flavor, in fact, really stands out. The orange-like citrus character is limited, and it doesn't have the complexity that the nose offers. It finishes quite dry and astonishingly long with some lingering biscuity, toffee-ish, and lightly toasty maltiness beneath resinous, piney, and grassy hop flavors.

NeroFiddled, Nov 18, 2003
Photo of ElGuapo
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A hazy golden yellow colored brew topped in a massive coating of white foam that leaves lace all over the glass. Big aroma of spicy hops. Grassy and citrusy with sweet aromas of lemon-lime gatorade hidden behind it. Interesting whiffer.

This brew has much more body than I had expected. The bitterness is also a lot more than I thought it would be. Very smooth. It has a big blast of grassy hops to start you off with pine notes as well as bitter orange peels. It starts to give way to some sweeter flavors, but it only does this for a while as the bitterness comes in strong at the finish. The aftertaste gets a bit more mild as you are left with one last dry burp of floral flavor. This is a fine IPA, but it is not an unbeleivable IPA. It is much better than average, but it is just not the best.

ElGuapo, Nov 17, 2003
Photo of NickLovesBeer
3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at Anam Cara

Big A pours a an unfiltered orange color with a sticky white head and great lacing. Big A smells very citrusy with an undercurrent of dry hops. As far as tast goes I was kind of underwhelmed. Big A has a very mild taste not at all hoppy for an IPA. Now I'm not saying that this is a bad beer, far from it, Big A just doesn't separte itself from the pack as far as IPAs go.

NickLovesBeer, Nov 15, 2003
Photo of gueuzegeek
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

As I poured this, I noted the nice full head that lingered quite a while, and left some lovely belgian lace as it went down. This beer was a really nice hazy orangy gold color, so my anticipation was high. There were some floral hop aromas but not nearly as much as other IPAs I have sampled. There were some yeasty undertones to the aroma as well.

The body was okay, but nothing earth shaking. The taste presented some decent bittering from the hops and the yeastiness was somewhat present as well. I let it sit for a little while (10-15 minutes)and went back to it after I had eaten a little pizza and the alcohol taste was very obvious and it even smelled like it to me too! So, I decided to see what affect another food item might have so I tried peanuts and that characteristic abated, then, just to push it, I moved on to cheese nips and there it was, back again!! I then had a small lindt chocolate and once again it subsided. This just goes to show, if you taste something off about a beer, give it a try without food and then with various foods.

gueuzegeek, Nov 07, 2003
Photo of BierReise
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another brew I've been longing to try, thanks to Slob for the bomber! Slightly hazy golden orangish colored with a lumpy off white head. Big beautiful piney citrusy hop aroma with a hint of nectarine begs me to consume. Full bodied smooth and tingly with its carbonation. Biting bitterness at the end and this is my kind of IPA. Glass is half empty now and peppered with remnants of what was a thick head. Flavor is fantastic, chewy hops with a malt underlining. This is similar to the 2Hearted from Bells but bigger. One agressive IPA and its name suits it well.

BierReise, Oct 22, 2003
Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,535 ratings.