Smuttynose Big A IPA | Smuttynose Brewing Company

very good
1,723 Ratings
Read the review
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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Ratings: 1,723 |  Reviews: 896
Photo of wl0307
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Notes of 04/08/2010) Purchased and consumed at the BSF bar, GBBF 2010; coming in a 355ml slim bottle, conditioned in 05/2010, served lightly chilled in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: pours a murky light amber hue (due to chill haze as well as yeast sediments, I think), plus an off-white frothy head and mid-level carbonation.
S: citric+floral hops and oily malts are backed by notes of honey comb and pear-ish esters. Very aromatic and predominantly hoppy.
T: piney and tea-ish hop tannins are mixed well with honey, oily sweet malts upfront, leading fast to an overwhelmingly tangy mouthfeel of bittering hops, with a lasting impact of hop aroma & beautiful citric tannin... lovely!
M&D: a well-conditioned, full-bodied and dangerously easy-to-drink hop feast in a glass! Incredibly enjoyable...

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Photo of rudzud
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes taken on 8/11

A - Nice hazy dark amber color with a roughly one and a half finger head that slowly fades away leaving nice thick lacing down the sides of the pint glass.

S - Definately an IPA. Intense citrus and pinetrees with this one.

T - Bitter wages war with alcohol burns. I do dig this intense pine resin taste with that strong, strong finish. It does help cool the fire in my mouth.

M - Medium carbonation yet still feels thick, almost oily feel to it.

D - Yeah its definately a strong IIPA, and to be fair this is pretty much what I was expecting. I would order it again along with some spicey food.

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Photo of DeutschesBier
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The jury is kind of out for me on this beer. I love Smuttynose IPA, but I am still deciding how much I like the Big A.

The appearance is good for a bottle conditioned DIPA. Darker than usual, a bit cloudy, but the lacing is fantastic.

I wasn't getting much out of the smell. I got some resiny, piney hop aroma, but nothing too crazy. I could also tell from the smell that this was a malty DIPA.

Is this an English style DIPA? This is very malty. Not that it's a bad thing, just not what I was expecting. This is going to sound weird, but there is a faint baby-powderish aftertaste at the end. This isn't a very clean, hoppy DIPA. It's a bit muddled.

Overall, the mouthfeel and drinkability are solid. The alcohol burn isn't bad for the strength unlike other Smuttynose Big Beers (ahem...Gravitation). I wouldn't seek this beer out again, but I also wouldn't turn it down if someone offered it.

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

A-Pours a murky burnt orange with a nice sized off white head that has fair retention and leaves nice lacing.

S-Tropical fruits, floral and pine hops, wisps of malt. It is a pleasant but a bit subdued nose. I would have liked for the nose to have been more prominent, but what I do pick up smells good.

T-Taste is much more pronounced than the nose. Big notes of pine resin, floral and citrus hops pound the daylights out of the traces of malt that try and fight their way through. Biting and bitter finish.

M-I think this has a great mouthfeel. Its actually a bit chewy and creamy with a carb bite that is done perfectly. Medium body, slick and oily.

D-For a big beer, it is very drinkable.

I liked this one. A job well done by Smuttynose.

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

pours a nice peach color with a 1 finger head and lots of clingy lacing.smell is tropical fruits and lots of pine some citrus peel and hops ..taste is a huge hop and pine hit with citrus and tropical fruit notes..alcohol interferes with the finishes with some malts and lots of bittering hops ..mouth feel is full its loads of hops and pine and citrus.again 2 much alcohol burn in this which in turn detracts from the overall drinkability..its a good 2ipa but needs to be tweaked to balance it all out..still pretty good but i wont buy a whole lot of it..try it though

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy, pale yellow color, with a white head. In the aroma, orange like citrus and a small pine hop. In the taste, bitter hops that are all over the place and actually a bit watery. A bitter and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry hoppiness on the aftertaste. Big hops and hides the alcohol, but a mash up of many different hops in the taste.

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Photo of jera1350
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Golden orange color, thick head of tan foam, good lace.

Lots of citrus, pineapple, and tropical fruit. Good dose of alcohol.

In your face with sharp bitterness and warm alcohol. Some pineapple and piney citrus. The malt adds a buttery caramel sweetness.

A bit prickly on the tongue. Medium bodied and quite warm going down. Dry finishing.

Reminds me of a triple ipa like Devil Dancer. Not quite as good, but every bit as warm and bitter. If you like bitter, this will get it done. A nice take.

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Photo of stakem
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My first review of a smuttynose offering and it comes in the form of a sixtel purchased at westy's and put on tap in my garage. Keg fill date of 7/23/10.

Poured into a pint glass, this brew appears a hazed golden orange color with 2 fingers of lightly yellowish stained creamy head. Head slowly receeds to an uneven patchy surface of foam atop the brew and legs of sticky lace cling all over the glassware.

The nose of this beer is not dominating by any stretch but it includes a broad range of hop characteristics that are very pleasant. There is a bit of a sweet floral aspect about the smell intially. Then the nose turns to citrus like grapefruits, herbal character like mint and pine comes through the back. Rounding out the smell of this brew is a sting of alcohol coming off a bit solvent when deep whiffs are taken. Really a solid aroma coming off this brew that makes me salivate.

The flavor of this beer is brutally bitter resinous piney hops upfront with some more hop character that is herbal and a bit minty and citrusy all at the same time. I can imagine if someone watched me take my first sip it would be like a child tasting grapefruit for the first time. I feel so deceived... how could something that smells so damn sweet, innocent and tasty come across like a kick to the nuts and a slap in the face? Regardless, it is enjoyable but honestly I was completely caught off guard here. The slightly solvent nose in the back made me think I might be in for a strong DIPA but I didnt expect this much bitterness and alcohol forwardness. Very slight malt sweetness tries to peak it's way through the hops but fails miserably. This is a very one-sided brew when it comes to the hops and they completely dominate the faint malt sweetness.

This is a medium to full bodied brew with a lower than expected level of carbonation. Each sip yields more hop bitterness and a lingering aftertaste of piney and herbal hops that at times also tastes like grapefruit that just sticks inside the mouth and doesn't go away.

As far as drinkability goes, this one would be leaps and bounds ahead of itself if it had just a little more malt backing and if the alcohol wasn't so astringent. Half way through the glass I am already feeling the nearly 10% abv. The combination of the lingering hop bitterness coupled with the alcohol is enough to burn the back of the throat and make it hard to dive right back in for another sip...unless you are really in the mood for hop punishment.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.55/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On cask at the GBBF.

Pours dark orange with a light froth ring. Big juicy citrus and chutney nose. Marmalade malts with some caramel cut by orange resin hops. Light to medium, some chew, and big burn.

Way too hot! Kills half the flavor, never mind any thoughts of drinkability. I wonder if this was very young going into the cask for the festival...

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Photo of gtn80
3.67/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a 12 ounce bottle into a Guinness tulip glass.

Smell was great, fresh hops with some citrus notes.

Taste was far too malt forward for an double IPA for my taste. Hops were in the background, which was surprising with the aroma up front.

Mouthfeel was bitter, not suprising on a DIPA. But the bitterness lingers in an unpleasant way.

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Photo of mothman
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Sam Adams Sensory glass

Poured it a tad vigorously, yielding 2 fingers of off white colored head. Fades down to about a finger, but has amazing retention from their. Tons of lace left. Color is a hazed burnt pale orange.

Aroma: A big amount of fresh fruit flavors and citrus. Grapefruit and orange peel. Lots of floral hops. Very fresh and hoppy. No malts showing which is a good thing.

Taste: The taste is a little over hoppy. A big floral and pine flavor with some alcohol showing. It seems as if some bready/caramel malts are showing here. A big grapefruit citrus here. Not as fond of this as the aroma.

Mouthfeel: Bitter and piney. Very sharp on the tongue. Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Leaves a big hop resin aftertaste on the palate.

Overall, this beer seemed fairly fresh, but something about it led me to believe otherwise. I thought the aroma was great, but their was too much malt showing in the taste. It is fairly drinkable.

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

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle with an expiration date of Jan 2011. Saqmpled on August 2, 2010. It pours a cloudy, pale yellow-copper with about two inches of foamy white head that never quite disappears. The hops in the aroma are both fruity and flowery and in abundance. There is a vague hint of malts mixed in. The taste sears the throat with bitter hops and you know you won't forget that this is a hoppy beer when you mention it to your friends.

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Photo of Soonami
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A beautiful golden yellow beer with lots of chunky yeast and sediment suspended bellow a fluffy pillow of pristine head. The reason why this beer is rated lower in appearance because there is so much junk in the bottom of this beer I had to leave about an ounce in the bottle to keep all that shit out of my glass. I think Port and Smuttynose are the worse offenders when it comes to the amount you lose in the bottle to avoid the junk going into your glass.

The smell was intoxicatingly citrusy, lemon and grapefruit rind and sweet grainy malt. The beer was nicely bitter, but with a bit too much residual sugary sweetness and alcohol heat.

The mouthfeel was creamy with very nice fine carbonation, but the alcohol and oily hops left an astringent dryness in my mouth.

I'm glad I tried this beer, but I would not buy it again.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in an imperial pint glass at ChurchKey.

Haven't seen the bottles 'round here in NoVa, so glad to see it on tap on the CK. It pours a pale straw with just the slightest bit o' haze on it, topped by a couple healthy fingers of white foam. The nose comprises pine, grapefruit, honey, and caramel, all swirling about nicely together. A strong bite o' pine comes straight out as the tongue dives in. As things progress a stiff caramel insurgency takes to the streets, turning the tongue into a Mogadishu torn asunder by all-out sectarian flavor warfare. By the time the tongue escapes, it is not clear which side has won the day, but many lives have been touched. Expect commercials soon. The body is a heavy light, with a moderate carbonation, a sticky feel, and a dry finish. Overall, pretty trong, but pretty good as well. I just don't think I could handle very many in one sitting.

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Photo of Khazadum
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer #2 of the Blind Beers BIF! Thanks again to Prufrock for this generosity and keeping it local. This beer was a fun one to weasel apart and boy did I screw it up at times on guessing.

The color reminds me of honey that has been sitting on your shelf for months on end. Its congealed into that awful gloop that you can never get to squeeze out without some form of heat. However, it is enjoyable to see this. The darkness of this yellow hides the mounds of carbonation hidden inside this brew. When poured it yielded a full finger and a half head that left tons of lace... literally the side was coated in frilly foam for minutes on end. I thought yesterday had great amounts of lacing, but this one beats it hands down. In fact, all the way until the end there is a layer of head on this beer. It never goes away fully and stays above the level of 'soup skin'.

Overwhelming amounts of bread, trace amount of malty resins, and something metallic. Is that Copper or Iron? Am I detecting pennies roaming around in here? Something is disguising the elemental odor with sweetness. I have no idea what the sweetness is that is covering for the metal. Thank goodness that it is there, however, because when paired they work well together.

Flavor Profile
Ahhh! How comfortingly simple. The bumper on this truck is a caramel-like malt that consumes my palate. As it runs me down and flips me onto the hood I smash through the windshield into a strong hop presence. The entire upholstery of this vehicle is bitter hops that remind me of DIPAs I have enjoyed in the past. I don't have much time to reminisce on the past because I am flung from the passenger seat out on my ass with nothing to comfort me but the coppery exhaust of this automobile breathing down my throat. I can't say that I am falling down in ecstasy, but I did enjoy this like I enjoy a good game of football that I still end up losing. Sore, excited, and somehow unsatisfied.

Oral Sensations
Full body on everyone sip. It lingers on my lips, the roof of my mouth, my tongue... even in my throat I feel it a bit. This beer has a pleasant personality. In the beginning and even into the middle/middle-end there was a pleasant carbonated tingling.

This beer seems like something I could pound out with friends at a bar. It reminds me of what I was drinking that first weekend out with my Pharmacy buddies. The alcohol is nowhere to be found at all in this beer. I never noted it except once as that pleasant fire in my belly as I hit the very last sips of beer. It doesn't mean I miss it, I think it would bring out the metallic tastes and ruin the simpleness of this at times. I like it, but I don't love it. Its an acceptable compromise to what I really want to drink.

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Photo of stimulus
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle.

A: Pours a hazy orange with a faint white head.
S: Citrus scents dominate this brew, with a strong hop finish.
T: Very very hoppy, with citrus flavors to follow and then even more hops!
M: Medium bodied, and a bit sticky with lively carbonation.
D: Like any other double IPA, this is good in smaller doses.

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Photo of bogus564
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass.

Cloudy orange in color, with a light wheat-colored head that lasts for about two minutes before dissolving slowly into lace.

There's a piny nose, and I'm also sensing some grapefruit as well. I like when I beer has more than one or two things going on in the nose. So far, so good.

The first drink confirms the pine and grapefruit. Smuttynose wasn't messing around with the hops - they really stepped it up with this beer. I'm getting really faint raisin coming from the malt. In retrospect, it's better that it's faint; a higher profile might have mucked the taste up.

Mouthfeel is pretty good - not the best I've had, but it certainly isn't bad. Carbonation holds from start to finish, and it's my kind of bitter.

This went surprisingly well with my grilled cheese sandwich. Who knew?

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Photo of Parrotbeak
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy orange with a yellow hue. Thin, white head that fades slowly, leaving thin film with patches here and there, as well as a thick ring around the perimeter. little bit of lacing.
Smell is thick, bready malts and strong, piney, bitter hops. Malts become crackery after the front. Faint citrus notes, including orange, lemon peel, and pineapple.
Taste is bitter, piney hops with some bready malts. Fruity notes, including mango, orange, and pineapple. Malts carry to the finish, along with some hoppy bitterness.
Mouthfeel is fairly crisp, with some bite from the hops towards the finish, which is slightly sticky. Medium body.
Drinkability is very good. Alcohol is present but not imposing, and the great taste overcomes any detracting qualities it might have.

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Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.01/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pretty tawny copper color with some nice big white sticky head that leaves a bit of lacing. Very pretty IPA. Smell is ok, I suspect some of the hops have faded, this bottle is about 2 months old or so. Nice clean biscuit and caramel aroma with a bit of resinous hops in there. Taste is about the same, but with a pretty big piney kick to it. Lingering bitterness with a bit of a grapefruit note mid-palate. Pretty tasty, I haven't had anything big and hoppy like this for a while. Medium mouthfeel, carbonated well enough to keep things moving along. Decent drink, I'm glad I'm relaxing with it tonight.

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Photo of alkchrios
5/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was served to me at Lord Hobos in Mass... I had the 2004 and it was amazing.. I expected it to be rather full and bitter but it wasnt that. This was a great great beer.. aged perfectly..not overbearing in the least... On the pallet a lot of wheat and hops is present with a nice burnt sugar taste. very very good... i wish i didnt have to write 250 words for this review when all I should have to say is.. this is a big a ipa 2004... you should prooobably grab this is you come across it.

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Photo of jampics2
3.48/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased at Warehouse Beverage.

Looks nice in the pint glass. Tangerine colored beer, cloudy, and a small bright white head that leaves great lace.

Smell is decent, a little better than average. Some citrus, earthiness and mint from the hops, plus a load of malt. Caramel and brown sugar.

Taste is good but not my favorite take on a DIPA. Very bitter but not too citric. Malt takes over. Like a young American B/W more than my ideal DIPA. Touch of plastic as well (yuk!) but overall decent.

Mouthfeel is too thick - I like a crisp and clean DIPA and this is not that. Overall, this is good but not what I expected. I like it and will drink again, but I have to rate to style. This is just not a good DIPA.

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

Poured from a chilled 12oz bottle into my Smuttynose Big Beer Series goblet. The beer has the color of tarnished gold with some orange highlights. It is opaque. There is a large white foam head on top. There isn't any lacing left behind as I swirl the beer around, but a foamy film is left behind that is slow to recede. The Big A has a big piney aroma that I like a lot. It is not overly hoppy, but a little stronger than a normal IPA (and definitely more potent than Smutty's Finest Kind). As one would expect, the flavor is full of bitter oils and big hops. There is a bit of sweetness, but mostly I taste big crunchy hops. The bitterness is present throughout and lingers on after I swallow. This is a full-bodied beer. There is a healthy amount of coating left behind and some stickiness. A good amount of carbonation is also present. For a strong DIPA, I find this beer to be pretty drinkable. I've had a couple bottles in an evening, and I think that would be enough for me based upon the strength. Each individual sip leaves me ready for another, but not too excited. I will certainly have this beer again, but I think it may be a few months before I'm ready for another 4 pack.

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Photo of BlackBearForge
3.76/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big A pours a cloudy peach blushed amber orange with a huge bone white creamy head that leaves thick curtains of sticky lacing draped all around the glass as it slowly falls. Very nice looking beer.

The aroma is mostly fresh bready malt while the hop presence is mostly of the piney resin variety.

The flavor is big, more on the malty side, with big fresh lightly toast bread drizled with a light caramel sauce while the hops as promised by the aroma deliver a balancing act of big pine resin along with bittersweet grapefruit and orange. As it warms it develops a butterscotch flavor and the overall bitterness seems to intensify especially on the finish. The flavors definitely improve even on warming just a tad from refrigerator temps. Alcohol is felt as a pleasant warming in the back of the palate on the finish only.

The mouthfeel is full, smooth and just a tad harsh on the finish from the carbonation. The carbonation does create a bit of overall creaminess however.

Big A may not be my favorite double IPA at the moment but I could easily see it growing on me the more I drink. As it warms the profile does become more complex and I can easily see wanting more to puzzle them out. Smuttynose "knows" good beer and Big A is no ecxception!

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a DFH snifter, bottled in January 2010.

Pours a slightly hazy orange with a huge three finger light yellow fluffy head. Nose is sweet citrus and malty caramel sweetness.

Taste is pretty sharp and harsh, the bitterness is there and that's really all I get from the hops, there isn't too much of that fresh hop flavor that I really like in my IIPAs. The alcohol is surprisingly present and you can feel it after you drink it. High carbonation leads to really decent drinkability but there's an odd finish that's fairly unpleasant on the back of my tongue. It's ok, but I'd either go with Stone IPA or even SNPA over this.

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Photo of Naugros
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Foam rose from the mouth of the bottle upon opening, which promised a nice head and it delivered. Thickness, retention and lace. Nicely done. However, the beer has some major haze, more than typical for an IPA. It's a bit detracting. But looks aren't everything, otherwise I would have never found someone to marry me.

An amazing floral and citrus hop aroma rises to meet your curious sniffer, It's an Imperial IPA, so you don't expect more than hops in the nose, but the malts can be sensed.

This is definitely different than other Imperial or Double IPAs brewed in the US. The hops profile is an amalgam of many flavors. There's pine and grapefruit and florals and spices all in one brew. This is one conglomerated hop tea of a beer.Six different hops were used to create this impressive beer.

Many feel that the West Coast surpasses the East Coast in craft brewing. My retort is that the East Coast kicks the crap out of the West Coast in Belgian styles, but between this beer, Weyerbacher's Double Simcoe, Lake Placid's IPA and 90-Minute from DFH, it's not just the Belgian styles that those that brew near the Atlantic excel. I maintain that the East Coast can hold its own and surpass the Left coast in many aspects of any style.

Now that I'm done pontificating, I must mention that the mouthfeel could be improved. Perhaps a different hops ratio or timing of when and where they add the hops could reduce the excessive bitterness that lingers beyond its welcome.

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Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 1,723 ratings.
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