Big Head San Diego Style Ale - Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 81 | Reviews: 79 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by SaucyA:
4.35/5 rDev +1.6%
12 oz bottle into my new giant snifter. Thanks to TheBlackMallard and Hoppymeal for the chance to try this.
A - Pours a glowing sunset orange with 1 finger slightly off white foam. Looks like a DIPA. Crazy lacing. Not bottle conditioned.
S - Massive hop profile, I smell 3 or 4 different kinds of hops. Way different than most hoppy Bell's brews, but with the usual pineapple undertones. It's really nice.
T - My kind of hop bomb. Slightly boozy, an absolutely crazy amount of hops, with an ever-present malt backbone to keep the whole thing in check. Really hot on the tummy but heat not noted on the way down. Well balanced and well made.
M - Thick, syrupy, medium carbonation. Quite okay in my opinion.
D - Good. The heat, hops, and abv are just begging to give me heartburn, but it's so damn delicious, I think I'll ignore them all and keep sipping along.
Notes: I'm extremely glad I got a chance to get into this. I didn't want to believe there was a Bell's release that I wasn't gonna get to drink.
05-18-2008 19:50:08 | More by SaucyA
More User Reviews:
3.83/5 rDev -10.5%
A-Pours cloudy/murky amber with nice white head
S-Matly caramel, grapfefruit-citrus, reminiscent of barleywine with malt forward presence
T-Big caramel malt presence, balanced with grapefruit/citrus, piney bitterness on the back, a little too boozy for overall feel which detracted from flavor
M-Sticky vicous in mouth, really thick for style
D-High alcohol wouldn't keep me coming back but very enjoyable version of DIPA
09-16-2008 22:02:03 | More by hopsleeroy
4.05/5 rDev -5.4%
Nice amber color with a white head that retains very well and leaves tons of sticky lacing. Aroma has grapefruit, tangerines, pine cones, and sap. Very piney flavors, resinous, but lacks some of the other flavors noticed in the nose. A rather bitter beer, but still quite good. Higher carbonation and medium body with a sticky hop finish. An enjoyable beer for sure, and I'm glad to have tried it, but I like HopSlam better. Thanks to hoppymeal for the bottle!
12-28-2008 01:36:03 | More by badbeer
4.18/5 rDev -2.3%
Pours a beautiful golden-amber with a long lingering 2 finger head. The aroma is floral and sweet with notes of citrus, smells like a wonderful hop bomb. Taste is nearly pure hops, grassy citrusy hops with a minor malt backbone. The alcohol is very well hidden. This is damn good, though it could probably due with a little less carbonation. Overall this is a damn fine brew and I am sad that I was only able to come by this one bottle
05-11-2008 04:01:43 | More by FrognutUnl
4.13/5 rDev -3.5%
Big thanks to hoppymeal for this trade at DLD. Derek has to be one of these most generous traders on this sight. No fucking shit.
12oz. brown bottle, poured into a snifter. Batch K8369
A: Pours a deep amber-orange with good visibility. 1+ fingers of lightly tinted, slightly rocky, slightly foamy, head builds up and doesn't let down. Good lacing throughout.
S: Big hops all over. Huge citrus notes, mostly grapefruit, but also a bit of pineapple and mango. Pine and resin are on the low side but not disappointing. Malts are sweet but not much else.
T/M: Bitterness is very nice. Potent, nearly tongue ripping.. just how it should be :) Citrus is again the main focus with more of the same from the nose. Malts are very sweet and adds a bit of buttery and nuttiness along with enough of an attempt at balance as a DIPA should. Body is above medium alcoholically sticky. Long lasting bitterness in the dry finish.
D: 11% is hidden nicely. There's a bit of a hint in the S/M but nothing major. 1 bottle will be enough for this sitting. I don't think I like it as much as Hopslam but it sure is an interesting one off.
04-29-2008 03:06:55 | More by pwoods
3.73/5 rDev -12.9%
I didn't realize it was the equivalent of 4 beers until I finished the last drop. Starts as an English bitter and subtly delivers, I don't know 245 international bitterness units. DIPA in a small 330 ml bottle, what a novelty. Reasonable carbonation, DIPA smell. Full reddish yellow, with lots of white lace.
03-13-2009 03:04:39 | More by Sammy
4.25/5 rDev -0.7%
Bottle courtesy of hoppymeal. Thanks a lot, Derek. Been looking forward to this one.
Appearance: It pours a golden color leaning toward amber. Just a touch of an orange tint to it. Head is light vanilla colored and stands three fingers tall. Retention is excellent and a ton of lacing lines the glass.
Smell: San Diego Style? Oh yeah. I'll buy it. Tons of piney hops are clearly in this one. West Coast indeed. Lots of citrus grapefruit, pineapple, and orange sweetness. A little caramel malt is present on the nose, but hops have beat it to near death. A little yeast and alcohol are present. But, Bell's did a hell of a job with this one. Easily one of the best DIPA's I've smelled.
Taste: It's citrusy sweet up front. Grapefruit and pineapple scents are nicely done. It's got a stronger malt presence than you'd think after smelling it. It's mostly caramel malt with a decent bit of the pale variety mixed in. Hops are strong, piney, and bitter. But, they don't totally consume the malt flavor. Nonetheless, it's still bitter and very appetizing for a hop fanatic. Alcohol is noticeable, but not overly strong tasting. That's a compliment given its abv. Finishes bitter and dry.
Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Body is medium and feels nice and smooth. Carbonation is excellent and it goes down really easy for a big beer. Drinkability is good, but I'm fine with one at 11% abv. I'm not sure my tongue could take much more of a hop lashing anyway.
Big Head is a very good beer in all respects. If you're into hops, you definitely should try to get a bottle. I don't think it's quite on par with Hopslam, but it's very good nonetheless. I'd like to see it brewed again, but who knows if that will ever happen. Grab a bottle while you can. It's worth it.
06-06-2008 01:56:59 | More by prototypic
4.18/5 rDev -2.3%
Got this from Beertracker, cheers Jeff!
Batch K8369 pours a copper hued amber with 1+ finger of tan head. Above average lacing, all over the opposite of the glass & above average head retention
S: Rindy & citric hops, plus cakeyness
T: Oranges, tangerines & grapefruit up front, with some serious herbal bitterness & a kiss of booze up front. Leafy hops, toffee sweetness, pineapple & along with booze warmth as this warms, I also get some candi sugar dryness, weird. Finishes warming with earthy & leafy hops, plus grapefruit & orange slices
MF: Chewy with fairly vigirous carbonation
Drinks a touch slow, due the boozeyness & complexity. Would love to try this fresh to compare this, but this has held up pretty well
06-11-2009 01:47:15 | More by russpowell
4.35/5 rDev +1.6%
12 oz bottle into a Bell's snifter. Big thanks to hoppymeal for hooking me up with a couple of these at DLD. You da' man Derek!
Pours a hazy golden amber (you can literally see the hop oils floating around in this) with a finger of foamy brite-white head. Retains very well with a thin creamy layer that yields huge hop lacing. Unforunately though, it doesn't stick around, opting to slide down the glass instead. The aroma is a nose tingling alcoholic fumey mix of resinous hops, citrus notes, caramel sweetness with a big ole' waft of heat intermingling in the proceedings.
The taste is more in-your-face West Coast inspired insanity with a big, piney hop bitterness and alcoholic pop that just overpowers the front end of the profile. A backbone of caramel malts barely keeps things in check and struggles to get noticed while tangy grapefruit notes make themselves known in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a slick oily feel from all those hoppy residues. Of course, the alcohol in this is quite prominant, putting all 11% ABV right out there and combining with the piney hops to finish things with a bitter and stinging finale.
I really like how over-the-top Bell's decided to go with this, unleashing a bitter hop bomb of epic proportions on our collective palettes. I just wish that maybe a touch of better balance would have helped cover up some of that ABV, as it did get quite stinging at times and really hindered the drinkibility. Still, if you like your DIPAs straight up hops with an alcohol chaser than you should definitely seek this guy out.
06-19-2008 16:58:43 | More by Kegatron
4.45/5 rDev +4%
Bell's Big Head (San Diego Style Ale) Batch #K8369 pours up with a moderate beigish-tan head that neatly crowns the bright, deep ochre-burnt auburn body. Extremely tight lacing with great head retention. The sweet malty aroma is overlapped by a powerful ripe citrus fruitiness (grapefruit, pommelo, tangerine) from the dry hops with a touch of peppery spiciness overlaying a lovely toasted (biscuit) maltiness. Alcohol is noticeable, but layered with the other characters. Maybe a hint of oxidation is just starting to creep in? The flavor starts off with an incredible toasted caramel sweetness that carries to a defined, marked hop bitterness that delivers a bold, but surprisingly well-balanced finish with a stealthy warmth. This medium-full bodied DIPA has a lovely creaminess with just the perfect amount of carbonation. This one has lost most of its fresh hoppiness in the aroma, but its now layered with malt complexity and drinks like a fine stock ale or barleywine. This is Hopslam taken up a notch!
01-18-2012 06:17:55 | More by Beertracker
3.85/5 rDev -10%
A 12 oz bottle courtesy of ncvbc. Thanks Walter!
A: The ale is well carbonated, with a foamy white head emerging on the initial pour. The head clings to the glass, an impenetrable barrier. The ale is a bright orange marmalade color (minus the gooey sediment).
S: The ale is thick, full of resiny hops. Pine, grapefruit and pineapple jump out at me. The thick hops are met by strong alcohol and lots of malts, a big backbone of grains.
T: This ale is a mouthfull. Intense, biting hops grab the tongue and reduce to let go. Long after the sip is gone, my tongue is still reeling from the heat. The hops have grapefruit, pineapple, orange rind and pine flavors. They sit atop a barleywine-like malt body that is grainy with a caramel and vegetal body. There is a lot of boozy heat lingering throughout. At room temperature, the ale's pine notes have softened and sit much nicer on the palate.
M: The mouthfeel is generally hops and alcohol, very big and a dream for hopheads. Let the glass warm to room temperature to fully enjoy.
D: At 11%, this is no sipping beer. One bottle at a time should be the limit.
07-05-2008 01:49:26 | More by akorsak
4.08/5 rDev -4.7%
A fat fuzzy three finger light tan head turns rocky and leaves considerable scattered lace as it fades. Body is deep amber in color. Nose is full of flowery hops that are more on the citrus side, and a hint whiff of alchol. With the initial sip you quickly notice that the hops are not as dynamic on the tongue as the name would suggest. They are more minerally and pine based then preceived from the nose. Alchol is definitely present especially on the back of the tongue. There is a bit of malt presence for balance as it warms. Mouthfeel is actually not overlly bitter and very pleasant. Solid drinkability. But I think Hopslam is a much better double IPA from these guys.
08-31-2008 21:32:26 | More by SPLITGRIN
4.55/5 rDev +6.3%
Twelve ounce bottle served in an oversized wine glass and consumed on 07/09/2008.
I received this one in a trade recently, as I had been looking to try and find one of them forever it seemed. I love Bell's and the style is always my friend, so I was most excited to get a chance to try this. The pour was beautiful. A rich deep, and very hazy amber came through almost immediately. Lots of carbonation here which gave way to a huge, billowing, and sticky head of white foam. Lots of retention here left it hanging around for what seemed like forever and really did a great job at coating the insides of the glass with sticky foam. Your classic big IPA here.
The aroma just came jumping off of this one. Very nicely balanced with rich notes of pine resin coming through quickly and strongly. Nice bready malts with hints of a biscuit like middle and tons of floral and citric notes. Very impressed here. Nice grapefruit and tangerine smells coming through now as well, the more it warms, the more the malts undercut it and provide and enormous amount of depth. The flavor was just as spot on as I could have hoped for. Rich floral notes of deep citrus flavors coming through from the very first sip. Orange and grapefruit being the biggest players here. Lots of fresh resin likes characters as well. Deep malt profile added an immense sense of balance to it and really just pushed through how good this was put together. Biscuit like flavor in the middle gave way once you got to that final sip and it was all over. A huge amount of bitter hops coming roaring through and just obliterate any flavor you had left from the big bready malts and just dry out the palate so much that you are left begging for another sip. Great Mouthfeel here, dare I say perfect, with a rich and chewy like texture and a great carbonation profile that was just never-ending. I picked up not one taste of alcohol in this one, and therefore bumper it way past a sipper. Just unbelievably smooth, I could have just gone on with this forever, too bad I only had the one bottle.
Overall I was blown away with how good this one was. It was a fine example of the style and really just another really great brew from Bell's in General. I would have no issue with having this one again, and to be honest would really love to. I must get more of this one and quick, it was just that good!
07-11-2008 00:58:17 | More by mikesgroove
4.72/5 rDev +10.3%
Thanks to ncvbc for this awsome beer.
The color of copper piping with some amber and golden hues. Huge 2 finger sticky khaki head with excellent retention and sticky lace that refuses to die.
Wow! What a wonderfull smelling beer. This one is all about the hops. Tons of citrus with some pine and grassy hops mixed in.
The only beer that I can think of that mixes so much hoppiness and sweet candy maltiness with out overdoing it is Bigfoot. This beer kind of reminds me of the DIPA version of Bigfoot. Solid grapefruit hops in the flavor. The grassiness that was in the smell is not noticable in the flavor. A lot of candy sugar malts but it's not overdone. Taste a bit like sweet tarts.
The hops rip the enamel right off of your teeth. I can feel the stickiness in my mouth.
Wayyy toooo drinkable. I love this beer!
For some reason I wasn't aware of this Bells one off release. If it wasn't for ncvbc I still wouldn't be aware of this master piece from Larry!!!
05-21-2008 03:34:15 | More by wcudwight
4.55/5 rDev +6.3%
The appearence is deep amber color with white sticky lacing. The nose is of piney hops and citrus fruits. There is a slightly sweet and caramel scent as well. The taste is well balanced. It has the nice bitter hop taste but a touch of maltiness in the end. Its slightly syrupy as well. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and medium cabonated. It feels slightly slick on the tongue. Overall drinkability is high. For a beer with such a high ABV it's not as pungent as you'd think. Another winner from Bells!
01-02-2009 05:45:20 | More by ShrLSU
3.38/5 rDev -21%
Big thanks to cpferris for this one. Poured into Hickory Crawdads pint glass.
A. Golden orange body with a fluffy white head with good retention and lacing.
S. Smells of citrusy and floral hops.
T. Holy fucking alcohol burn!!!! I've never drank high test rocket fuel but I'd imagine it would drink like this. The alcohol overpowers this brew. Citrusy hops and a bready taste to it ful then you get kicked in the tastebuds by the alcohol
M. Mouthfeel's pretty good if you can take the alcohol burn. Full, sticky. Almost greasy.
D. I feel almost generous giving it a drinkability of 3. I'm sure if you like droping a shot in your beer then you could drink a ton of this. Personally, this brew is a one and done for me
Overall... If you're looking for an Imperial IPA from Bells, go for a hopslam. Big head is not bad but hopslam ranks supreme for bells. the alcohol made my stomach hurt
11-01-2008 12:49:59 | More by EGledhill
3.78/5 rDev -11.7%
Pours dark amber in color with a nice quarter inch of frothy head.
Smell is big 'ol funky hops. However I believe it may be too much Simcoe. I'm finally getting hints of the catbox that everybody refers to often. Taste is bitter and full. This is a huge beer that hits you like a ton of bricks. Good beer, but I'll stick with HopSlam.
05-03-2008 01:13:43 | More by FtownThrowDown
4.1/5 rDev -4.2%
Poured from a 12oz bottle into a DT tulip. Special thanks to FlandersNed for the last minute DLD trade!
Batch # K8369
A: Pours a lively carbonated bright rusty-orange color with a creamy light orange head. Plentiful lace stuck to the glass and some suspended sediment was visible.
S: Big boozy nose of sweet caramel, rum blasted dark fruit, over-ripe tropical fruit, sweet oranges, vanilla frosting, and piney hops.
T: Sweet caramel, alcohol, and citrus dominate while getting a helping hand from piney hops, sweet mushy pineapple, and still more alcohol.
M: Big, sticky, slick, and sweet with a very nice rawness brought on by the plentiful alcohol. The booze and massive hops did a spicy little tapdance all over my mouth!
D: Surprisingly pretty awesome, considering the heft. I didn't want it to end!
05-22-2009 01:52:42 | More by GbVDave
4.78/5 rDev +11.7%
Thanks go out to sman262 for this one.
An aggressive pour into my Duvel tulip leaves a 2 inch cream colored head. The color is darker than expected but nice and it leaves an incredible amount of lacing on the glass. Wow the smell is amazing. I get mostly pineapple, then some grapefruit and pine. A hop bomb! The taste is similar to the smell but more complex. This is great, it's like a sticky, hop syrup. Pine, pineapple, grapefruit, a hint of malty sweetness and an extremely inviting bitterness. This is another winner from Bell's.
05-02-2008 00:06:27 | More by thickerfreakness
4.72/5 rDev +10.3%
Thank you Derek (hoppymeal) for introducing me to this beer. Had never heard of it but after receiving and reading about this offering from Bell's, I had some serious high hopes.
12oz bottle poured into snifter. Here we go...
A: Well, not called big head because of the foam pillow. Thin head on top of apple juice color and the head dribbles out to naught. Lacing holds on for dear life.
N: My God, is the nose on this beatiful. If I could bottle this or use as an air freshener I would. Ive heard description before of mowed grass, this one has it combined with pure pink grapefruit. The malt and alcohol are there too but wow with the fruity hops.
T: Strong semblance of the nose, tons of citrus hops, grapefruit, and pine needles. Never such a puckering grapefruit flavor Ive seen in a beer, feel like there should be sediment in my mouth. Laces you with hops but the malt and alcohol take a peek too. Both sweet and bitter- cant get over the fact that I didnt just get finished eating a grapefruit.
M: Thick and coating of hops. Truly felt as if I just ate a cone of hops and it is completely covering a film over my tongue and through. The spices hold on and there is a bit of burn from them as well as the alcohol kick as it warms.
D: I wish this wasnt a rare one off but am thankful to have gotten to try it out. Doesnt seem as high abv as it is but this is up there matching other west coast favorites from alesmith,etc. Great job by Bells... again. Im sure if I had more, which I wish I did, the alcohol would catch up fast.
Thanks again Derek. This was truly a treat, flat out fantastic.
05-19-2008 23:53:34 | More by marcpal
4.45/5 rDev +4%
got this one in a trade with hoppymeal. thanks derek!
12oz bottle, batch K8369. sampled may 16/08.
pours deep copper colour with a big fluffy creamy meringue-like head. the head drops slowly and leaves lots of lace behind.
aroma is great. grapefruit. bit of pine. alcohol. powdery hops. bread and crackers. light orange.
taste is great too. initial blast of hops - grapefruit, orange, tangerine. warming alcohol. powdery. medium-high bitterness level. caramel. bread and crackers. this beer is a full-frontal hop assault. you can just feel it in your teeth.
mouthfeel is good. medium-low super smooth carbonation. medium body.
drinkability is pretty good. there's a strong warming alcohol, but the hops do a fairly good job of keeping it in check so you only really feel it as a warmth spreading from your stomach. solid malt helps balance it all. this is good stuff that happily holds up against the best the west coast has to offer.
05-22-2008 14:56:20 | More by grub
4.5/5 rDev +5.1%
Thanks Derek for the bottles!
Wow, the hops hit my nose as soon as I popped the cap. Poured a deeper and slightly hazy orange color with an averaged sized off white head. Aromas of citrus, fresh pine, and green floral hops. All hops there Baby! Tastes of citrus, melons, caramel, and pine. On the balance scale, this one definitely tips to the hoppy side, which is just fine with me! I never would have guess this was over 11%. Some lacing left on the glass. Nice hoppy burps...
Notes from and tasted on 4/18/08
11-07-2008 01:34:57 | More by hopdog
4.4/5 rDev +2.8%
Decanted this bottle of hop thunder into my nifty SA beer glass. Pours a nice, clear golden-orange hue
2 fingers pillowy white froth quickly rush to the rim...real thick with shiny bubbles.
Smells like a giant pink grapefruit, or a hop farm
Strong first sip with a huge smack of hops burning on my tongue.
Hot alcoholy flavor balanced only by a copious amount of hops.
Real bitter dry-hop finish.
So this is Bell's 'Big Head San Diego Style Ale'...
As I sipped this one, I tried to imagine who Bell's had in mind.
At first, I thought of the Green Flash WC IPA.
But I think it's closely similar to the gruesome Hop 15.
In any event, this hoppy-as-hell 11% DIPA from Michigan is great in my book.
04-21-2008 22:53:14 | More by RustyDiamond
4.7/5 rDev +9.8%
I love this beer. I am a very hop-friendly person and despite my love for HopSlam, this went down just as smooth.
A-Great golden color with a finger width of head.
S-Can't be beat. Strong aroma of alcohol, perfect for a hoppy beer.
T-Much preferred bite. I love a good strong hop and bite to my beers.
D-I may be a little biased from the 3 hour trip it took to get it, but my first out of a sixer was great. Almost magical. Shared with a buddy, and fellow HopSlam enthusiasist and loved it as well.
I have heard mixed reviews, from friends and employees at the General Store, but I find this to be a great limited brew from Larry. I only wish he would produce it again.
04-16-2008 05:31:14 | More by TasteTester
4.22/5 rDev -1.4%
A: Very nice golden orange color with a touch of haze. Pours with a big white head, as advertised. One of the cooler looking pours I can remember, so I give this a 5 for appearance.
S: Maybe my nose isn't operating very well tonight, but I'm not getting a strong smell. Could be the Subway Spicy Italian I just had interfering with my olfactories. I just get piney hops.
T: Strong pine and grapefruit hop bomb mania, but like Hop Slam, this is well balanced with strong, sweet malt goodness. I guess I'm having this many months after it was brewed. So the aging and oxidation probably cured it of some of its hop imbalance. I say that deliberately, knowing that hop lovers will not agree with that characterization.
M: Thick body and very well carbonated, sticky and resinous.
D: Pretty good for a high ABV IPA. The name of this beer is not fitting - this is one of my favorite IPAs, and certainly better than any I've had from San Diego.
Thanks to JDV for trading this one to me.
01-07-2009 04:16:57 | More by waltonc
Big Head San Diego Style Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 81 ratings.