Smuttynose Big A IPA | Smuttynose Brewing Company

very good
896 Reviews
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Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA

Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.70%

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

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 896 | Ratings: 1,720
Photo of bigkamp
1.48/5  rDev -62.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

I love smuttynose "finest find" ipa. It is one of my favorite (and affordable) local IPA's. I am a huge fan of smuttynose so I was looking forward to trying what I figured would be a similar recipe to their original ipa; maybe just with added hops and malt... boy was I wrong.

Best enjoyed date: May 11'

This beer poured a murky brown with sediment present in the glass. a small head faded quickly with some lacing on the side of the glass.

The smell was nothing like I expected. Earthy, grass, doughy, malt presence.

Taste is syrupy thick with way too much malt presence for an ipa.

I could only get through a couple of sips. I will try another bottle to make sure this one wasn't bad, but I am pretty sure that this was one of the rare "misses" from smuttynose as they usually put together an amazing product.

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Photo of techcommdood
1.98/5  rDev -50.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Appearance: Hazy light tan color, weak head but solid lacing.

Smell: Spicy hops and lots of sugar on the nose.

Taste: Very sweet (like artificial sweetener), strong hop spicy bite, some booziness. Not a lot of character, just big malt and big bitter payload.

Mouthfeel: Heavy at first, finishes dry. Strong spicy burn from hops.

Drinkability: Poor. For me, it's not balanced well. Very strong sweetness and hop characters clash more than play off each other. Hop burn all down my throat. And it all builds repeatedly with every sip. Unenjoyable.

Overall: A disappointment, to be sure. I was expecting much better out of this one. I think more than anything else it was the sweetness that killed this beer for me. I can tolerate strong hops (hell, I recently brewed a 100+ IBU cascadian dark ale). I won't be getting this one again.

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
2.09/5  rDev -47.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a Dogfish Head IPA glass.

A - 2.75 - Poured a golden color with a quickly subsiding, half finger of bright white head. Looks identical to a standard domestic beer. Weak head potential and retention. No lacing.
S - 1.75 - Smells like a malt bomb. I honestly thought this might have sat way too long and was surprised to find it was 2 months AHEAD of the best by date. Smells like caramel, alcohol and HEAVY malt. These aromas mask any fruit or hops that might be present. Absolutely no excuse for this malt bomb aroma.
T - 2 - The taste doesn't fare much better from the smell. Tastes like sugary, sweet simple syrup with tons of malt and a LIGHT touch of hop bitterness. This tastes like a heavy alcohol, sweetened version of a domestic beer with some bitterness at the end. Barely qualifies as an IPA, let alone a double.
F - 4 - Standard mouthfeel one would expect from the style.
O - 1.5 - A terrible representation of the double IPA style. Steer clear of this beer!

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Photo of Longstaff
2.34/5  rDev -41.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Reviewing the 12 oz bottle version.

First try at this format and it wasn't good. Phenolic character lurking behind the hops quickly distracted you from what would otherwise be a fine beer. After researching and finding nothing about this issue, I had to give a bottle to a fellow hophead to make sure I wasn't crazy. He came to same conclusion wihtout me front loading him with my opinion and now there's two bottles sitting on top on my fridge waiting to be transferred to the garbage.

So dissapointing as fresh hoppy beer is so desperately needed in the area and this could have been a go-to beer for me. And the bombers were always so good.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
2.47/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Poured out an orangish-amber color with some sediment chunks and a minutes' worth of head that leaves behind medium levels of lacing on the glass.

Smells of the typical grapefruit and pine resin but with a large boozey alcoholic hotness. Tastes similar, with hot boozey pine resin and unfortunately, not enough malt characteristic to stand up to the bittering and alcoholic hotness. It might just be me, but this one seems WAY out of balance for an IPA. I'd expect this sort of booziness from an unbalanced barleywine or malt liquor, not an IPA.

Oh well, they can't ALL be winners.

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Photo of bobhits
2.53/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Normally I try to write complex review but this beer isn't worthy. This bottle is near but not at the best buy level so if I find it fresher I'll adjust.

A good looking double IPA with WAY too much malt and sugar aroma. It smells bad.

The taste is WAY too much sugar bread and flavors I can only express as old hoppy beer but again this isn't old. bit sugar malt, HUGE even. There is a hop bite too, but it isn't good the breat and caramel are just blah.

Too think too sugary and doesn't work.

This is just not a good beer, let alone a good IPA. I can't imagine this being good.

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Photo of hardy008
2.55/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Very hazy amber orange with a one finger off white head with fairly decent retention. There is quite a bit of sediment floating in the glass, which is not visually appealing. The aroma has grapefruit, pith, pine, and some caramel malt. Smells overly bitter.

The taste is much like the aroma. grapefruit, pith, peelings, pine, and some caramel malt. This is more bitter than most DIPA's I have had.

Medium to full bodied, oily, slick, with fairly high carbonation. Not one of the better DIPAs I have had.

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Photo of Callenak
2.56/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip.

Pours a nice pale/golden color. I'm so used to east coast DIPA's not being pale that this was a relief. Small white head that lingered for a short while.

Smell was more earthy and piney than citrusy. Be curious if they used some sort of noble hops in it.

Taste was a little disappointing but matched the smell. I've had many great DIPA's and know this style well, this beer just isn't doing it. A earthy bitterness without much citrus/fruit in the finish. Malt is dry and stale.

Sorry just not digging this beer. I had my hopes up on the pour but that was the best part.

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Photo of claspada
2.62/5  rDev -34%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours a light golden color with a large fluffy white head that is really lingers. As the head fades it leaves a decent amount of lacing.

Very potent aroma of grapefruit and pineapple with some malty sweetness notes as well.

Obviously there is a lot of hoppy bitterness going on here, but there is not enough maltiness to balance it out in my opinion. Taste is piney with slight notes of honey sweetness. Long, lingering bitter aftertaste. Improves as it warms; expresses some floral hop characteristics to help balance out the resiny American hops.

It has a lot of carbonation, too much for the style in my opnion.

This beer doesn't have the depth that I was hoping for and with this much alcohol it's not that drinkable. Don't plan to revisit.

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Photo of Stingray5
2.69/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bomber featuring Stash Wojciechowski, the "Killer Kielbasa". Who? Pours a hazy golden amber with almost no head. Aromas are fruity, nutty and slighty toasted, more like an English IPA. Thick mouthful is followed by nutty fruity malt and bitter hops. There is a good dose of alcohol in the finish.

I'm trying to avoid saying this, but I found this beer to have a slight aroma and taste of vomit. Needless to say, that's a bad thing.

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Photo of Chaney
2.73/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Poured a very cloudy tangerine orange, with a huge fluffy white head that looked like looming Alka-Seltzer as it died down.

S: Fresh citrus fruit, with a muted clean cotton scent. There was also quite a bit of candy sugar in there as well.

T: A bit disappointing on the taste... a bit like soap actually. Despite the sugary smell, the taste was almost devoid of sucrose. The fruit totally got buried by an EXTREMELY funky, bitter, and unpleasant boozy cleaning agent.

M: Booze and then some. The carbonation was prickly enough, but the particular brand of bitterness couldn't be helped by it much. The lacing was moderate.

D: I don't think I would drink this again. heck, I had trouble enough making it through 12 ounces of it! I'll stick with "Finest Kind."

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Photo of kojevergas
2.79/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

[Forced to write notes due to an outlier rating. My apologies for the brevity and shallowness below]

This is a fundamentally imbalanced IPA, suffering from too much hop bitterness and ill-enough malt sweetness. It's overcarbonated and unrefreshing. There is no harmony of texture and taste, and the hop profile is nothing special. While its 9.5% ABV is well-disguised relatively speaking, its lacking quality makes it less drinkable than it should be.

A pedestrian brew from Smuttynose.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
2.83/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bomber, bottle conditioned from "2007"

Poured a light caramel color with 2 finger head. Decent lacing througout.

Smell was good but not great - heavy alcohol, some hop bitterness, possibly some orange peel.

Taste did not seem true to an IPA - barley, grilled brussel sprouts, with the only sweetness being what I will compare to a turnip. Deep alcohol present as well, which was fine for the style.

Mouthfeel was very heavy and cloying. No crispness, or sharp mouthfeel which I would have expected.

Not drinkable beyond a few sips in my mind. Based on the other glowing reviews, I think I must have gotten a bad/old batch that didn't "condition" well in the bottle. Too bad, b/c I like the other Smuttynose's I've tried.

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Photo of bpfishback
2.86/5  rDev -28%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

When I first had this beer, I really enjoyed it. I'm not sure if the recipe or my palate has changed but now I do not like this beer at all. It has a nice pale orange color and good thick head but a lot of yeast debris. The hop aroma is very lacking in comparison to the top dipa's.The taste is some sweetness followed by very sharp bitterness. I feel like the bitterness comes from the floaties but even when being very careful not to get any yeast in the glass it still has an unpleasantly sharp bitterness.

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Photo of Cresant
2.87/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured this 22 oz. brown bottle into a Tripel Karmeliet glass. Slightlty cloudy orange/gold body had a chill haze. Minimal head even with an aggressive pour. Bottle was about 48F.

Smell was very difficult to discern. Not much smell at all until the beer warmed significantly. When the aromas started to unfold they were everchanging beginning with mild citrus hops. Rye bread. Spice and powdered donuts. Mild alcohol presence.

Taste was pine tree bark. Coniferous sweetness with a stripping hops bitterness. Citrus and alcohol. Marmalade. Not citrus pith but citrus sweetness. Not as flavorful as Finest Kind and somewhat lacking in the overall presentation.

Mouthfeel was medium/full bodied with mild carbonation. Alcohol hits the brain. Not one I will seek out again.

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Photo of Pip_Count_167
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

I'm spoiled on IPAs and DIPAs that I absolutely love, and this one did not deliver. It's maltier than many IPAs I've had, and I did not enjoy that flavor combination; it muddies the bright hop flavor I want in an IPA. More towards the bitter west coast IPA spectrum than the citrusy Maine IPA spectrum. It didn't help that I tried this in between days that I was drinking Swish... everything's relative, right?

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Photo of deejaydan
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear orange-yellow hue, sticky lacing, moderate head retention.

Aroma-- Actually, kinda faint. Slight grassy chinook type aroma is hanging out.

Taste--- Just rip roaring hops and bitterness. Not the usual bitterness that I can enjoy in an IPA, but a raw, rough bitterness like that of the pith of a lemon or orange. Give me some maltiness to balance this.

Mouthfeel--- ?? I can't feel my mouth! I CAN'T FEEL MY MOUTH!

Drinkablity-- Well, I've had better IIPAs.

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Photo of PeatReek
2.91/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours hazy and yellow/amber, like a nice weissbeer. Rocky white head. Hop smell is strong but light, floral and lemony with a slight savory undercurrent. Bitter, scratchy hop flavor right from the outset; the delicate aspects from the aroma don't cut through this so well. Rather dry, but almost invisible, malt presence. Finishes dirty with a mildly unpleasant ester fruitiness. Hmm. No thanks.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
2.92/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle conditioned in: August '10 notched off on the side of the label.

A- My pour wasnt so gentle so I got a 2 finger high stark white head with lots and lots of creeping lace. I really like it. The beer is a pretty standard hazy golden orange.

S- Pretty piney and malty. The malts are very pale and crackery smelling. The hops seem one dimensional. Mostly all pine.

T- A pretty decent battle between crackery and bready malts and pine. In the finish the pine wins out and makes things get a little bitter. There is also a flash of grapefruit as it goes down.

M- Dry with a low carbonation.

Ill stick to Finest Kind. This is one of the very few beers from Smuttynose I dont think Ill purchase again.

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Photo of justintcoons
2.95/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a hazy orange/amber with debris floating around. Looks like this is probably unfiltered. I got about half a finger of bubbly head that dissipated quickly and low carbonation.

N: Valencia orange, clementine, caramel and maybe some honey.

T: Burst of bitter and pungent citrus and pine upfront, some sugary caramel and finishes with a bitter burnt citrus taste.

M: Medium bodied, dry and bitter.

D: Okay drinkability as long as you like extreme bitterness with very light malt to back it up. I guess I prefer a more balanced DIPA.

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Photo of callmemickey
2.95/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Amber-caramel body. Moderate off-white head. Decent retention and subtle lacing.

S: Orange bitterness. Lots of booze. Tons of caramel malt shining through.

T: Ugh. Not so good. Bitter, orange cough syrup. Lots of alcohol.

M: Thick and somewhat cloying. Significant alcohol burn. A bit of a muddled mess.

D: A very raw beer... reminds me of 120 minute in the do everything extreme, but not well, mindset. Would not revisit.

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Photo of Sixpoint
2.99/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a pint glass. Bottle-conditioned in 2005.

My sample poured with no head at all. Seemed a little flat. Intentional?

The aroma was nice. You could definitely pick up the alcohol in the nose, even though it was hiding in the reeds behind a massive quantity of hops.

The taste was eh, not good. Massive alcohol burn with no malt foundation to balance. Lingering bitterness and acid wash from the alcohol. Yeah, it's a big ass IPA, but not pleasant...

My beer was medium bodied and not too drinkable. Having an entire 22 oz. bomber of this stuff was a struggle.

Smutty makes such a fine IPA and a pretty good brown ale too. They should go back to the basics IMHO.

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Photo of wwheeler
3.01/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - Lovely hazy orange color, slight head.

Smell - muted hops, grainy, slight flower scent

Taste - at first there's a big hop bite, but then the alcohol warmth and thick aftertaste overwhelmed the palate

Mouthfeel - nothing remarkable, but after the hops quickly wore off, the alcohol/syrup taste lingered slightly

Drinkability - At first I was a little worried, since the alcohol gave a strong aftertaste, but that seemed to mellow out while a thick aftertaste lingered

Overall, I kept on thinking that I would rate the Big A quite a few steps behind DFH 90 and Great Divide Hercules dIPA. What I admire about great dIPA is that the floral hop characters completely mask the fact that it's an 8-9% abv. The syrup/alcohol aftertaste really took away from the hop character of the beer.

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Photo of DeanMoriarty
3.03/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a 22oz bomber in a trade with Dawson's Liquor in Severna Park, MD and poured it into a Old Speckled Hen pint glass - thanks fellas!

A: Pours a hazy golden/light honey hue with a decent white head that dissipates within a few sips, leaving small amounts of lacing.

S: Tons of malt and booze with only a hint of muddled hop.

T: Unfortunately the taste is in unison with the nose - what a malt bomb! Where's the hops???

M/D: Blah and no - couldn't finish this mess of a DIPA.

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Photo of henryd30
3.06/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Orangish amber that is slightly hazy due to suspended particlate. Thick 3 thumb head that has marshmellowy lacing.

S: Not overwhelming - was expecting more.

T: Slightly bitter and a little boozy, again, a little disappointed. Just checked bottling date and it's Oct 2010, getting a little old, which might explain it.

M: Typical consistency for IPA - active carbonation picks at the tongue, can feel the boozy heat a bit.

D: Not as good as I'd hope, but could be self inflicted with it being a bit older than I expected. Will learn to check easily identifiable smutty date next time. Will try a fresher one in the future as well.

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Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 1,720 ratings.
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