Smuttynose Big A IPA | Smuttynose Brewing Company

Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA
Liked This Beer
3.96 w/ 1,723 ratings
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.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,723 |  Reviews: 896
Photo of CHickman
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours cloudy gold orange in color with a massive creamy / foamy 3 finger thick off white head that lasted; lacing lasted and left a lot of foam clinging to the sides of the glass along with rings as it went down. A lot of sediment floating around the beer, with speedy carbonation racing up the glass; a very impressive beer to look at.

What a potent sweet floral nose, which you can smell from 6 inches away. Smells like massive amounts of hops, floral and citrus hops, sweet malt, orange peel, lemon, grapefruit and hop spices, but there is still a sweet malt aroma mixed in with the hops. Hints of the alcohol peek through in the aroma, but it's not offensive.

Tastes of floral and citrus hops, sweet malt, orange peel, lemon, grapefruit, spices that burn like hot pepper or seasoned herbs, coriander, grass, caramel, maybe some brown sugar and or honey, and some alcohol sweetness that almost feels like this beer was aged in a oak barrel or had wet hops dropped in the mix. Pretty sweet flavor considering the hops present, and there are some sweet complex flavors that somehow seem to balance out this beer and not make it hop overkill, but don't balance this out to make it easy to drink; this is a massive hop assault on the taste buds, but to me it was good - not great, but good. It's almost like sipping a hop chewing tobacco (like a hop Skoal Bandit), where the hop spices and sweetness trickle out like it's being freshly squeezed. Alcohol peeks through, giving off some heat, but again not a distraction.

Mouthfeel is creamy with an oily slick feel on the tongue with light carbonation and a medium to heavy body that's chewy. This is not a beer for any non-IPA lovers out there as only hopheads can appreciate this bombarding of hops on the tongue, which seems to have a dry finish.

Non-DIPA fans will think this borders on undrinkable as the hops are relentless, but I still enjoyed it. Couldn't have more than one 12 oz bottle in a sitting, but I still liked this beer. Would go well with spicy food.

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Photo of silver0rlead
3.42/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy amber with a thin white head, too much sediment in the pour for my liking. The aroma is all pine resin and citrusy hops, with a little biscuit and caramel, not particularly complex but effective. The flavor is also big on the pine resin and citrusy hops, along with fruity esters, biscuit, caramel, and some alcohol. The mouthfeel is a little thick for the style and drinkability is OK. Overall a decent DIPA, but the excessive sediment really detracts from the experience for me.

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Photo of honestdave
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12oz bottle into a Chimay chalice

A: Cloudy, bright orange with slight, fine, creamy head. I can tell this has a higher alcohol content by the way it clings to the glass.

S: Citrus, grapefruit, hops, sweet smelling like cotton candy. Higher alcohol content not really apparent.

T: Delicious smooth and balanced IPA. Tastes moderately sweet but with a really good hop bitterness at the end. Not real boozy, but you know the alcohol is there.

M: Medium bodied with nice amount of carbonation to negate the nearly 10% ABV.

D: Easy drinker for the alcohol content. Loving the hop bitterness. A real tasty ale that I would buy again. Would love to have this fresh from the keg.

Summary: I was fortunate to find this at Newton Farms near Seabrook Island, SC. This is one that I would buy again for sure. Smuttynose makes an excellent beer.

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

12oz pour in a mini-snifter

A - came with about half an inch of nicely frothy cream colored white foam. the beer is a little hazy and dark gold in color. massive sticky lacing down the glass the entire drink. very nice.

S - yummy bitter yet juicy pineapple and citrus hops with a big old bag of freshly cut grass thrown in. no malts present, no malts needed. big bold and inviting.

T - bitter and hot. fresh fruity hops attempt to fight through a massive piney bitter hop attack. before any kind of malts have a chance to set in, burning hot alcohol takes over. not for the weak-hearted.

M - medium bodied with moderate carbonation, very slick and oily cut through only by the bitterness and heat.

D - got this to go along with some pretty spicy wings, though the hops held up the alcohol did little to cool my mouth. this is a very well done "out of style" east coast IPA, sure enough to please even the bigger hop-seeker.

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Photo of TheHoppiest
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Pours a slightly hazy honey yellow, with a thick, creamy 3" white head that slowly pillows down, leaving soapy lacing down the sides.

Has a fragrant, floral citrus smell that dies back as the beer sits.

Has an almost buttery taste, with oily resin and slight piney hops. The hop bitterness is very mild, although it does leave the tongue quite dry. Overall, a smooth beer considering this is DIPA.

Has a rich, thick mouthfeel, beyond smooth, almost slick.

Drinkable, though filling. I'll be switching to something lighter after this one.

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Photo of seh410
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Cloudy, orangey-amber in color... looks likes cider actually, with a very minimal white head

Aroma: Fresh and crisp... piney, fruity and floral hops

Taste/Mouthfeel: Whoa, the high ABV hits first with a sort of astringent bite, followed by the fruity, piney hops that were in the nose. The beers finishes with a sweet bubblegummy/cotton candy-ish sweet finish. The mouthfeel is crisp and light, as can be expected.

Notes: Man, you can taste the alcohol and you can feel it too. I could probably put back 2 of these, but really, no more.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber was $5.59 from Beverage King in West Lebanon, NH. Bottle-conditioned in 2009. Served cold in a standard pint glass.

Hazy thick golden-yellow brew generates 1" of thick off-white head that settles to a stable fluffy layer. Nose is a bit sweet and thick with malt, candy sugar, candied mixed citrus rind, melon, good dose of citrus and pine hops. Taste starts with a quick flash of melon or maybe bubblegum before a strong dose of both bitter hop and thick light malts kick in. Has a thick milky feel, very smooth, with a creamy and resiny finish. No sign of the nearly 10% ABV. Very nice all around.

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Photo of squaremile
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my first Smuttynose beer after reading a lot in the forums. Why can't these east coast and midwest IPAs get the nose right? Dry hop them people, come on! Nose is average but a great flavor here. Nice bitter hops up front, solid malt second act with traces of yeast and caramel, and then a good lingering finish. The end got a little messy as it warmed but this is a very nice and respectable IIPA. No alcohol present at all, pretty drinkable for the style. Get the nose right and we are in business.

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Photo of Adamdc
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into clear plastic glass (I'm outside doing some yard work and decided I needed a break). This was bottled 3 months ago.

A: Tough to truly judge color of body through this glass but it appears to be a deep orange/amber with some floaties and a dense, white 1 inch head of foam.

S: While pouring I got hit by a peach/apricot aroma. Not much citrus at al but lots of pine. A little lemon and some earthyness also.

T: First few sips appeared to be overly bitter and boozy but I've adjusted and this is a very piney, boozy beer. Very little citrus hoppiness going on here. Caramel maltiness keeps it all in check.

M: This is the strength of this beer----for a DIPA this is really thick. I love it! Lots of creaminess also.

D: Well, I knocked this one down very easily but I don't know if I'm able to return to my yardwork-- the 9+% is getting me.

I've had Finestkind by SN many times and I thought it was time to try the Big A. This was def enjoyable but I'd like to try a really fresh one.

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Photo of PDXHops
3.09/5  rDev -22%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. The notches on the label indicate it was bottled in May of this year.

A huge amount of floaties (probably the most I've ever seen) in an otherwise attractive hazy caramel/apricot body. A fat and fluffy 3-finger head gradually reduces to a lumpy island and a thick collar. Patches of sticky lace linger here and there. Can't shake the feeling that I'm looking at some kinda snow globe, though.

Stinging pine aroma with a pronounced cedar element as well. A touch of grapefruit reveals itself among light caramel sweetness. Floral notes and alcohol aren't shy about making themselves known, especially the booze.

After the truly wretched IPA I had earlier tonight, this by comparison tastes like a wondrous nectar lapped off the rack of Katy Perry. Setting aside those thoughts, this is a decent DIPA, although not without faults. Booziness and a medicinal flavor are substantial and somewhat distracting. The floaties occasionally large enough to physically detect on the tongue. All isn't bad, though. Although the body's on the thicker side of medium, it's not overly sweet, and there's a nice 1-2 punch of resiny pine/cedar bitterness. At the swallow, some lemon zest lingers along with the hops.

Overall impression: Probably not something I'd revisit, but definitely worth a try.

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Photo of BB1313
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle, bottled in April, 2010. Pours a beautiful hazy orange w/ a huge head.. barely even poured it hard! White and fluffy w/ thick sticky lacing. Smells like fresh oranges and grapefruit, pleasantly aromatic. The taste is bitter, but bold w/ a touch of sweetness. The alcohol isn't completely masked, but it's not a problem at all, goes down w/ a warm bittersweetness. This is full-bodied, a little syrupy and thick w/ a slight creaminess. The drinkability is good considering 9.6% abv.

This really is a Big Ass IPA, Smuttynose comes through w/ this one! This one can hang w/ the badboys.. recommended to anyone who loves a solid DIPA.

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Photo of nickfl
4.39/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with two fingers of white foam on top of a very hazy, copper-colored body. The foam settles slowly and leaves thick lace.

S - A resinous aroma of pine hops with notes of lemon and cedar as well. Some toasted malt and light caramel sweetness in the background to balance things out.

T - Sweet caramel and toffee malt up front with lots of woody hops. Notes of cedar and pine in the middle with pithy bitterness beginning to creep in. Finishes with darker caramel malts as well as a dry, toasty malt character that blends well with the pine and lemon hop flavor and the grapefruit rind bitterness. Lingering woody notes of cedar, pine, and even some untoasted oak as well as grapefruit pith and dry toffee.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a fairly dry finish for something of this strength.

D - I had high hopes for this one, something about it just seemed like it would be good, and i wasn't disappointed. The hop character is appropriately huge with lots of aroma and even more flavor. The hops tend to lean more towards wood-resin flavors than fruit, which is a balance that works well in stronger beers. There is enough malt present here to back the hops and keep the bitterness in check, but the hops clearly dominate and the grain remains firmly in a supporting role. The bitterness in particular is well done with a sharpness that makes the beer drinkable and refreshing, even with its huge ABV, but it never becomes astringent or medicinal as some very bitter hop bombs do. In my experience, Smuttynose can be kind of hit and miss, but the Big A IPA is a serious hit.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Supposedly fresh 12 oz bottle from a four pack

Cloudy orange unfiltered pour with a head like sputnik....spherical but quite pointy in I digress. A nice looking Double.

Initial waves of fresh grapefruit on the nose paired with a very creamy caramel sundae sweetness as the malt pushes hard against the hops. A back end of grass and pine finish out the onslaught on my sniffer.

Whoa, Big A is alternately sweet and bitter, much like my grandma on her way to Alzheimer's disease. Bitterness rakes the tongue and finishes like baby aspirin while engaged in an epic struggle with the malt profile of caramel sweetness. Each sip yields a bruising chalky bitterness that sits unrelenting until the following sip. The grapefruit from the nose fails to make a substantial appearance.

Very sticky and resinous despite the high carbonation: extremely dry. Lacing and legs go on forever and make a mockery of my tulip.

A sipper and most likely a one and doner.

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Photo of Longstaff
2.34/5  rDev -40.9%
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 Norfawkers
4.97/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Excellent IPA and very hoppy but not overpowering

Apearance: Cloudy yellow-orange; unfiltered; thick foamy head

Smell: Hoppy goodness with citrus, some oak?

Taste: Hops and more hops

Mouthfeel: A bit creamy; a slight bitter kick but otherwise smooth

Drinkability: Complex and flavorful, definitely a sipping beer

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Photo of spartanfan
3.3/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz

A: Pours a golden color with a huge fluffy white head that is really sticking around. There are many small particles suspended in the beer. As the head fades it leaves a respectable amount of lacing.

S: Very potent aroma of grapefruit and pineapple. Also aparent in the smell is a malty sweetness

T: Obviously there is a lot of hoppy bitterness going on here, but there is quite a bit of sweetness to balance it out. Taste is piney with tastes of a honey like sweetness. With a lingering bitter aftertaste. As the beer warms a floral flavor becomes apparent.

M: Big A has a lot of carbonation, but for me it is just about right. The body is full and creamy, very nice.

D:This beer doesn't have the depth that I remembered, and with this much alcohol it's not that drinkable.

A good IIPA, but not a great one.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a golden orange with quick dying two-finger head and some lace. Lovely citric hop smell along with grapefruit, some spice and hints of sugarcane like sweetness. A great hoppy taste that is a mix of citric and grapefruit. The carbonation keeps it prickly as it is a lighter-bodied brew that is slightly chewey and a touch of minor sweet malts. A real dry, more bitter DIPA that is designed to please hopheads anywhere.

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Photo of cvaypai
4.19/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle to my new belgium globe.

Appearance - Poured with a half finger of frothy white head that dissipates rather quickly leaving a small amount of lacing on the glass. Hazy golden orange with lots of sediment floating around.

Smell - Whoaaaa grapefruit, this one smells awesome. Tons of grapefruit right in the nose. Tons of grapefruit, lots of grassy hops. A bit of a pine scent can be caught. This one is very pleasing. Very little to find in the realm of malt.

Taste - Grapefruit and pine are dominant here. The bitterness is amazing. This is one of the most bitter beers I have had in awhile. It's super dry and bitter. Very little on the backend for malt, not even a hint of anything sweet. Just lots of grapefruit and pine up front, then a long lasting bitterness on the tongue. This is simply awesome.

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel is just about right for it, not too thin or watery. The bitter is amazing and bites the tongue wonderfully. Amazingly sticky all the way down the esophagus and bitter far back on the tongue. The carbonation is right where it should be.

Drinkability - This is a one bottle a night, it's awesome but I couldn't see drinking more than a bottle of this, really resiny, sticky and has some good alcohol content to it too. I would attempt 2 but only because it's so good.

This is probably one of my favorite DIPAs. The score may not be that high because of drinkability and appearance, but where it counts, in taste and smell it's

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Photo of Slatetank
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was happy to see this in 12oz'ers - poured chilled from the bottle into a 1/2 pint

A- A dark golden w/ slight haziness and thin off white head - there is carbonation visible in the liquid and the lace clings in spots with a bead that is tight

S - slight tropical nose w/ strong herbal /floral odors and mild grapefruit hop ester w/ the malt as subtle wihth strong emphasis on tangerine and citrus notes

M - Moderately high bitterness w/ subtl astringency w/ a fruity juicy feel w/ tangy yeast and citrus acidity. The texture is a bit spiced w/ medium body and dry finish w/ moderate alcohol effect

T - The taste has a great flavor that comes off as mild tangelo mild grapefruit and slightly peppery with an astringent lemony taste. The flavor of sweet apricot and hints of herbs w/ a citrus rind slight acidic lemon tinge w/ the grapefruit taste. The flavor has light pineapple coming through until the dry bitter finish with a pine accent

D - a very good IPA, I think it is a fantastic example of double/imperial style. I found it to be very drinkable considering the sweetness and relatively high abv. It nails the essentials -pine/citrus and tropical w/ relatively dry feel and it has mild alcohol in the flavor

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Photo of Sam21
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz into tulip. "Bottle conditioned in March."

Appearance - Very hazy orange with some thick chunks floating at the bottom. Slightly off-white head with great retention. Fantastic lacing.

Smell - Juicy grapefruit, fresh cut orange, caramel malt in the background.

Taste - Bold flavors. Bitter grapefruit and caramel malt right off the start. Other citrus fruits like orange and lemon. Some heat buried in the bitter finish. Real raw. I dig it.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied. Slightly chewy. Real nice coating of the mouth in juicy hops.

Drinkability - I'm enjoying this as a warm weather sipper. Really bold DIPA with some alcohol that bites your tongue alongside a truck load of hops. They market this as an aggressive IPA and they definitely hit their mark. One big ass IPA!

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Photo of berpwillie
3.47/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy yellow orange color with good head, good lacing, and soft carbonation. taste of citrus fruity hops, also pretty sweet. medium body and thin texture. slight bitter finish. not nearly as good as i had thought it would be. kind of disappointed. i thought their finest kind ipa was much better.

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Photo of tchenery
4.62/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer looks wonderful. It has a nice billowy head that is not going anywhere. It is a nice hazy orange color, probably in part to the bottle conditioning.

It smells amazing. Fruity floral aromas are profound. It smells of mango and passionfruit. It tastes very bitter and leaves a dry mouthfeel. It's definitely a full bodied beer wiht plenty of malt and a slight belgian alcohol burn on the tail end of it that is actually quite warming and refreshing at the same time. Right now this beer is super cold, but I only imagine it will change when it warms. It would also be a phenominal beer on cask.

Very delicious beer, another gem from Smutty.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.82/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice hazy tangerine in my Duvel tulip with a nice white cap. Unfortunately the head fades quickly and the amount of lacing is a bit to be desired.The nose is all piney and floral hop notes. The taste has a bit more bready malt flavor to it (as opposed to the nose), but the hops are still the showcase. Some alcohol flavors come up right at the end.The beer is a little overcarbonated, and the body is mediium, could stand to be a little bit more rich. Big A is drinkable enough for a DIPA, but the booziness that comes across at the end of each sip keeps it from being remarkably so.

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Photo of DosBeerigos
3.47/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

C. Slightly Hazy
H. Dark Orange/Light Amber in Color
N. Hops, Hops and More Hops. Citus, Floral, Piney, and Some Honey Notes

First I will ask the question, what is the deal with the guy wearing underwear on this bottle? Anyone else get mildly turned off by this? Like when your shopping for beer and looking for something new, you would be like "ohh hey look a man in underwear on a bottle...lets buy this one!" I have talked about Smuttynose's labels before and how I thought they all looked like Stone Temple Pilot Album Covers. This one is just odd.
The beer inside was good, but not great. It seemed like a straight forward IPA, there was a nice hop presence with a solid malt backing. The 9.6% ABV was hidden well in this one though....maybe that's what the guy is smuggling in his underwear...(sorry that was bad, and I will even admit it). Thing is with IPA's its really show up big or go home. Average just won't cut it. I think it is time for Big A to go home and put some pants on.

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Photo of reefkeeper99
3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- appears to be unfiltered. Golden honey-colored with creamy off-white head- full 2 fingers with good retention and lacing.

Smell- First thing that hits is CITRUS- orange and lemon. hoppiness less pronounced than in other IPA's.

Taste: Very sweet, very hoppy. strong orange flavors. Alcohol could be masked better.

Mouthfeel: warm, heavy. Lots of carbonation. Warms as it goes down. Flavors stick around. Bold taste and mouthfeel on this one.

Drinkability: Not a session beer. One or two is about it for me on this one.

Overall- not a bad beer. Good if you like hops/ citrus. Would not buy another case but may return for a single.

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Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
Beer rating: 78.9% out of 100 with 1,723 ratings
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