Smuttynose Big A IPA | Smuttynose Brewing Company

Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA
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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 1,723 |  Reviews: 896
Photo of Wisconsinality
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into imperial pint.

A- A very nice orange/ golden that has just the slightest of haze to it. Pours about a finger and half's worth of head and stays as a nice cap on the beer the whole way through. Also leaves some good lacing on the side of the glass.

S- A big combination of piney and citrusy hops. Some grassiness to go along with just a little bit of funk which adds a nice little touch.

T- Hops right up front but with a little orange that seems to coat the mouth. Just a faint touch of alcohol at the very end but is overall hidden quite well.

M- A medium bodied brew that could be considered a little full body which adds quite nicely to it. There is the big bite up front and the dryness on the tail end. The carbonation just rolls over the tongue.

D- I would like to say I could have more than a bomber of this but I think my tongue would be done after one. I really liked this beer and feel it is a more balance(than some) dipa's.

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.91/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to jlindros.

Pours a lightly cloudy golden orange color with a large, three fingers of soapy white head and some impressive retention.

Scent of earthy bitter hops, sweet biting sugar, strong juicy citrus, a hint of earth, and spicy alcohol. These characteristics come together nicely to make on good smelling beer.

Taste of sweet sugars, spicy alcohol, caramel, bitter hops, and citrus. Finishes dry with a spicy citrus flavor; not bad, but not the best East Coast Imperial IPA.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy bodied, slick, and sticky, and finishes very dry.

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Photo of sethmeister
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've enjoyed this beer many times but never got around to reviewing it.

Poured today from a 22oz bottle marked "bottle conditioned 2009".

Cloudy apricot orange body is topped by a thick long lasting cream colored head. Patches of fuzzy lace on the glass.

Intense, thick hop notes hit the nose. Coniferous, spicy, resinous, citric. Pine, oranges, lime, grapefruit. Marvelously spicy and fragrant.

Taste is pine sap, oranges, sour grapefruit. Sticky and resinous hops. Strong spicy bitter aftertaste. There's a dry biscuit malt flavor but you have to search for it under all the hops. Hints of lightly sweet fruit flavors appear briefly before being bumrushed by bitterness. Lo I have belched a pine tree.

Mouth is substantial and viscous with a dry bitter finish.

Drinkability is fantastic. 9.6% ABV is carried well.

A lusty and sensuous double ipa.

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Photo of Ryan011235
4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter on 2/8/10

Bottle conditioned in 2009

Many thanks to smutty33

This is about as vibrant of tangerine/amber color you are going to get while being this cloudy. It isn't too much so, just enough to get the impression of moderate density & sheen. A few pineapple-hued highlights creep in around the edges. It poured a slightly off-white head just shy of two fingers. After several minutes it has thinned considerably but has left decent lacing. Overall, retention is consistently thin but the lace gets sparse. Lacing is a little better on the second pour.

The nose is very floral & has a decent showing of pine & citrus as well. Notes of grapefruit pith, lemon, orange & a touch of pineapple. The citrus elements seem a bit jumbled, but I can live with that; Big A doesn't appear to be hurting for hops. As for malt aromas it has hints of dry biscuit which tries to offer balance but doesn't quite succeed; this is a good thing. There is also a mild sugar cookie sweetness, but it is faint at best.

The nose has nothing on how this tastes. Potent & dense pine bitterness hits upfront; it is less like, say, a sharp fillet knife & more like a dull, serrated blade. It doesn't cut with such quickness; no, the bitterness moves slowly & deliberately. It doesn't end there - ripe citrus fills right in with lemon zest & grapefruit. Similar to the nose, the citric aspect is a little muddled, but who cares? It tastes darn good. Sure, some maltiness is present in its all-but-a-side-note glory. There are a few hints of toasted bread, sugar cookies & maybe (just maybe) a dollop of caramel sweetness. In any case, the hops are the feature here. Yes, this'll do.

This is an intense beer & carries its weight as such. I can't exactly call it full bodied, but it comes really close. It's resiny, has some grittiness & is damn-near chewy, truth be told. Carbonation is on the higher end of the spectrum but feels moderate; I can't fault the zeal needed to hoist this beer. In my estimation, one of the best features of the beer is offering great flavors while maintaining such an overall dryness from start to finish. Plenty bitterness makes its way to the end. Exceptional.

I enjoyed this beer more with each drink. Drinkability is superb. It easily runs with the Midwestern big dogs. Smuttynose recently started distributing to Ohio. Should I ever see it around town, I'll buy several. It took me a few bottles to warm up to Finest Kind; not at all the case with Big A. According to the bottle, "Stash Wojciechowski...created this bonafide India Pale Ale." He hit it spot on.

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Photo of dciBA
4.37/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz bottle into my big beer series snifter. Color is light amber with tons of sediment floating around, typical of a smutty beer I guess. Quite a bit of carbonation produces a solid half inch of head that seems to be lingering for quite a while. Lots of thick white lacing as it goes down. Smells is pretty much all hops. Taste is very hoppy with almost all the common hop flavors. Citrusy, spicy, earthy, but mostly piney. This is about as unbalanced a DIPA you're gonna find on the east coast. Tons of hops with just enough malt to almost balance it out. Mouthfeel has a nice hop resin stickiness that stays on the palate for while. ABV isn't really noticeable. I'm rating this one good on drinkability for the style, but if you're new to the hop game you may have trouble putting down more than one of these. Another great big beer from smuttynose.

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Photo of bamadog
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review is from notes taken on 2/13/2010. Bottle split with Beerman207, poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice light, but solid coppery color and starts with a 1 and 1/2 finger fluffy white head with great retention and that eventually fades to a full and thick skim; body is a little cloudy and shows strong carbonation; a fair amount of spotty lacing is left behind.

Smell: Just smells sticky and piney with some juicy and citrusy orange hops; there's a sweet malty backing as well that is almost honey-like.

Taste: Quite nice -- sticky and piney hops and a juicy citrusy and orange presence; the malts are stronger than I thought they may be and create a very sweet and honey-like balance to all of those wonderful hops; overall it's a great tasting DIPA that is straightforward.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth; carbonation is very present, yet soft; a nice coating of hoppy resin is left all over the mouth leaving the roof of the mouth especially sticky.

Drinkability: Very nice flavors, balance and mouthfeel -- I'm loving this beer and wish I had some more. Word has it that Smuttynose is now showing up in southern Ohio so I may be going on an excursion to pick up some more. The only thing that prevents this one from getting a 5 in drinkability is the high ABV and the kick it provides.

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Photo of euroslvt
3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Dogfish Head signature glass. A slightly more aggressive release of carbonation then normal is produced while removing the cap.

A: A slightly aggressive pour produces a creamy off white head. Directly below a sits a copper colored brew. Like usual a steady stream of carbonation constantly bubbles to the surface. Eventually the head thins out, a thin lacing sticks around forever.

S: Grapefruit, Pine, and a slight alcohol smell. Not nearly as aggressive as Ruination, but there are some pretty hardcore hop sents in here. A mild alcohol note hits your nose at the end. Understandable with the above average abv.

T: Bitter hops up front. Some grapefruit follows. Small alcohol at the end, but pretty hidden for the abv. Unfortunately it all comes down to a almost typical dipa, but still very enjoyable.

M: Fucking sticky. Sticky mouthfeel, sticky on the glass. Alcohol, and slight carbonation. Lingering bitterness on the tongue, but there is nothing wrong with that.

D: You can finish a bomber in on sitting easily. For the style and abv I find it suprising, but welcome.

Yet another great offering from Smutty. The big beer series doesn't usually let you down.

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Photo of drpimento
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Really good beer. Different than the other Belgians. Poured with a nice foamy frothy tan head and no lace. Color is a hazy amber brown. Aroma is a heady malt, hoppy, earthy, funky, leather, cocoa, coffee, ripe dark fruit, and GOOD! Flavor's similar, but in this case more muted.. Malt stands out. A bit chewy. Good body and carbonation. Great finish, but proly not a session. Solid good beer though. MM mmm

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Photo of mynameisbuzz
4.51/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance-Very cloudy for an IPA. Almost looks like a Hef. Thin head that dissipates after a few sips. Pale straw and cloudy in color, a bit different from the typical darkpale/light amber double ipas.

Smell-Grassy hop to start. Mid sniff reveals fruity ester characteristics. Finishes slightly alcoholic smelling. A bit like lab grade ethanol if you know what that smells like, but in the best way possible.

Taste-Exceptional initial hop oil bite. Lots of fruity esters. Tastes like a big 'ol british ipa. Not a fan of british ipas, but when done big, the fruity ester qualities are great! Some citrussy hops, but more piny hop flavors dominate, typical of a new england brewery. Interesting fruity ester, piny mix, but it definitely works.

Mouthfeel-Nothing special, but not bad at all. Medium body. Leaves flavors all over the tongue.

Drinkability-Couldn't drink 8 or 9 in a sitting, but not too harsh.

Overall, great british double ipa (if that exists). Try this beer!

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Photo of jt31914
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: pale with lots of carbonation and 1 ½ inch foam; pretty pale color for an IPA. Frothy.

S: Smells of hoppy aromas, but not very strong; not really any other scents from the beer, just some bitter hop smells.

T: Some honey sweetness on the palate; bitterness isn't too strong yet the IPA feels very full. It's pretty similar to hopslam but maybe not quite as good.

M: Pretty smooth a little bit of strong alcohol on the finish but good.

D: Decently drinkable

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

Poured a cloudy deep yellow with good carbonation and a white head. Nose is big hops, caramel, booze. Taste is big malts, caramel, bready and toasted. Grapefruit, floral and caramel are big. Mouthfeel is big booze, syrupy, thick and sticky, citrus and caramel. Wow. One bomber is enough. BIG A is right.

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Photo of kels
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer pours a hazy golden apricot shade with tons and tons of sediment hanging around throughout. A huge 2 finger white head fades to a well-retained oily skim leaving behind a tremendous amount of huge sticky lace.

The smell is not incredibly strong, but I get very distinct aromas of grapefruit and dry grains. There's a slight filmy alcohol and a little honey sweetness.

Really big flavors - a sticky, oily, slick simcoe hop, lots of bitter grapefruit rind, lots of thick alcohol, a really nice moderate carbonation brightens the overall drink, very long lasting and sticky, apply aftertaste. Bubbly and very bitter. Exceptionally high drinkability.

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Photo of sprucetip
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes. Nearly 2 inches of fluffy white head rests atop the very active, light golden/amber liquid. Great retention, plentiful lacing, and excellent clarity. Good start.

Beautiful citrusy, floral and yeasty bouquet supported by caramel malty sweetness. Started strong, then faded, came back some toward the end, but with a strong boozy influence.

Taste is really well balanced. Moderate bitterness with floral and piny hops backed nicely by strong backing of caramel malty sweetness. Moderate booze blends in well, and some bitterness lingers. Very tasty and well done.

Nice carbonation, rich full body, creamy and viscous with moderate warming and a clean finish, aside from the lingering bitterness.

Very nicely done, west coast like DIPA. Pretty smooth and easy drinking, especially for the size. Becoming a bigger smutty fan every time I try a new one. Also finding more and more good IPAs from regions other than the west, and quite pleased about this development.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber into a Duvel tulip.

A: Lightly hazed orange-amber body bubbles underneath a full two-finger head of frothy white foam. Excellent retention and some light, sticky lace. Great looking brew.

S: Very clean, purely hoppy nose - huge citrus presence, with orange pith, grapefruit, and light lemon, as well as a bit of pine and some nice, light spice. No real malt to be discerned - more West Coast style, I suppose. It smells great, regardless of the philosophy behind it.

T: More piney than the aroma, along with a surprisingly healthy dose of dry, toasty malt. A bit more booze on the bitter finish than I'd like. Quite balanced and tasty, but doesn't quite live up to the promise of the lovely aroma.

M: Medium-to-full body with lush, lively, smooth carbonation. Beautiful.

D: Great in so many ways, but just a little too hot on the finish to be truly drinkable. Still, not at all bad for a DIPA.

Notes: Yet another strong offering from Smutty. This is definitely one of the best DIPAs I've had from the east coast, and it certainly holds its own against all but the very best htat I've had (i.e., Pliny, Sculpin, Dreadnaught). Huge hops + great balance = awesome beer. Drink this.


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Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hudsonphotog for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours golden-yellow with a small white head. The aroma is big time DIPA, with a very resiny piney characteristic. It could be described as pungent. The flavor is more pine along with some citrus/grapefruit. You get some decent bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and carbonation.

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Photo of slasher007
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hudsonphotog for sharing this bottle.

Pours a hazy orange color with a huge, creamy, off white head that leaves an amazing looking lace all the way down the glass. The aroma is full of fruity, piney hops, with subtle hints of malt sweetness around the edges. Taste started off with a huge, creamy mouthfeel full of spicy hops and honey like malts. This beer was very smooth with medium body and high carbonation. Drinkability is good as well. Overall, a great beer from Smuttynose Brewing Company.

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Photo of cfleisher
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I hadn't had a hop bomb in a while, and this one snapped me awake.

It's pretty, with a single-finger head and sticky lacing. Pretty clear and light, orange color. Aroma is the most interesting thing about this beer. I can't peg the hops, but it smells like some fresh mystery hops I used last year. Lots of pine. Maybe Chinook? Not sure. But it's so different from a lot of other Imperial IPAs, I love it. Big alcohol, and some heat. Not so much that I mind.

I wouldn't have more than one in a sitting, but I'll come back to this one. Very distinct.

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Photo of albern
3.89/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This IPA might be a little too aggressive for my tastes. It is good, but a bit over the top for what it is trying to accomplish. The beer looks good in that it has a nice golden amber color with decent carbonation, and thick off white creamy head, some lacing, decent retention. The nose is excellent. There are wonderful orange burst hop aroma, some piney evergreen citrus notes, some sweet maltiness underneath, and some hoppy florals too. The nose on the beer is very enticing and pungent, I only wish the taste were as nice as the aroma.

The taste is complex but seems to be trying to accomplish too much. This is a thick full bodied affair. It has orange hop flavors, pine notes, some grapefruit like acerbic biting flavors, and then comes the dry leafy hops. The leafy stuff gets in the way of the better estery hop residuals that come in earlier. There is also a bit too much ABV in the beer and a bit of a throaty burn with the high alcohol content. There is a nice malty thick base underneath and it provides nice balance and consistency. The not so well hidden ABV, the biting leafy hop presence in the finish, the throatiness of the beer are three detractors from an otherwise decent American IPA. Beware: The aftertaste of this beer is a long drawn out affair.

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

A-Slightly hazed deep copper with a thin white head that reduced to a wispy veil that left attractive ringing lace.

S-A pleasant combination of orange citrus, spicy pine, tropical fruit and sweet caramel malt. Becomes more citrus/mango forward with warming. Not a powerful aroma but present and intriguing.

T-Sharp biting pine and citrus hop zing up front. This is well balanced by a heavy dose of chewy sweet caramel malt. This is a beer you can almost sink your teeth into! Nice honey-like sweetness builds with warming.

M-Medium, bordering on medium-heavy with a thick, viscous feel. Amazingly, despite this viscosity, it doesn't feel syrupy. Long lingering, astringent, hop bitterness.

D-This one grew on me. At first I thought it was a touch to sharp and harsh but it mellowed nicely and became more citrus/fruit hop forward and honey-sweet with warming. Good stuff and for sure best enjoyed while fresh....and this one certainly is.

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Photo of chicagobeerriot
3.99/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Quite a beauty in the glass. Clear, gold and with a thick, rocky head that leaves a ton of lacing in its wake. Can't really ask for more in terms of looks.

Smells liks my kind of DIPA: citrus rind, mango and pineapple take the lead, while the pine and floral notes are kept in the background. There is a very slight medicinal/alcoholic smell way in the background that detracts a bit, but not so much to dampen my expectations.

The taste is an impressive balancing act. Unlike some other East coast DIPAS, the hops hit you in the taste buds right out of the gate: A surprising amount of pine and floral given the lack of same on the nose. Then a caramel sweetness slowly enters to restore some order, bringing the beer back from the edge of hop insanity. Ultimately, the sweetness fades back out in favor of a prolonged deep bitterness and a dry hop punch to the back of the throat. There's almost a bit too much hop muscle here for my tastes (I generally like a DIPA with a stronger malt backbone a la Dorado or Dreadnaught). That said, if you are a true hop fanatic, this one should be on your short list of go-to IPAs. A very impressive effort.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to treyrab for sending this along in BeerSwap 2.0/3.0

Heard a lot about this beer, and was really looking forward to giving it a try.

A: Poured this one into my snifter. The beer has a nice rich orangey copper color. The head isn't nearly as thick or creamy as many of my favorite DIPAs. The lacing is nice and impressive, composed of thick rings with thin delicate legs at the top moving towards a much more fine lace towards the bottom.

S: Citrus Hops, Citrus Hops, Citrus Hops. Wow, there are a ton of big citrusy notes and not much else. Big bitter and acidic grapefruit hops. There is also some orangey zest.

T: Grapefruit, lemon, and grassy hops and tons of bitterness in there. There are some light and quickly fleeting hints of caramel malts, but very much towards the hop side. The finish begins as sweet and citrusy and moves to a dry finish.

M/D: Slightly syrupy, but very well carbonated. The finish dry and resinous. Citrus hangs around forever in the aftertaste after the finish. This is a great east coast version of a west coast DIPA. The only issue that I have is that it may be a bit too imbalanced and gives almost no malt character aside from quick hints that disappear. A little more caramel malts would go a long way in this one, but overall, very enjoyable. Definitely gave me my hop fix!

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Photo of berley31
4.37/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured with an average-sized, white head. Body is orange-colored and mostly clear, with some slight haziness.

S: Awesome aroma - lots of hops, and lots of citrus. Very floral.

T: Extremely flavorful beer, coming across as very citrusy at first sip, then a huge, hoppy finish that is very long-lasting. Quite enjoyable.

M: Very creamy, medium-bodied, with average carbonation.

D: A fantastic beer... I really love the balance between the hops and citrus. Drinkability is slightly affected due to the huge hop flavors, but this is to be expected.

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Photo of Seanibus
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'd call this a severely amped up version of an old school East Coast IPA - sweet, a bit maltier and a little less citrusy than a West Coast IPA. But my God is this beer BIG. I wish there was some warning on the label that this was a 9%-er.

Pours a slightly clouded bright orange with a big fluffy head that leaves very sticky lacing. The aroma is clean and strong, sweet, candyish, with some citrusy hops. The flavor is similar - light caramel, toffee, candylike. But there is a huge blast of alcohol, a burning booziness that tears down the throat. This beer is sharp and hot with alcohol. The mouthfeel is quite thick, meaty and carbonated.

This is a good beer, but it is big and intense. It might go better with food, but you'd have to come with something that could stand up to the intensity of the beer.

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Photo of strictly4DK
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber purchased from Abe's bottle shop, poured into my Weyerbacher tulip glass.

A - Pours an orange-tinted, almost pale peach. 1/2 inch head recedes to collar and has nice lacing. Beautiful beer, I could stop here and it would be a brilliant brew.

S - It only takes one whiff to tell this is balanced beautifully. Big caramel and bready malts dominate. Hops are sweet tropical and citrus fruits, i.e. orange, sweet grapefruit, mango, and maybe even some pineapple.

T - Taste follows the nose but the citrus flavors are subdued. Some grapefruit, orange, and mango balances the caramel malt. Mid-palate the grapefruit bitter and is accompanied by a nice pine and some hop resins.

M - Full bodied and creamy carbonation, reminds me almost of a cask. Sweet and bitter grapefruit hops linger over the front of the tongue and pine on the back.

D - This is a great east coast style IPA. Hops are varied between citrus, bitter, and pine but balanced by a fantastic malt backbone. I hope this becomes a yearly brew for Smuttynose.

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Photo of deereless
3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Finger thickness of tightly packed head, lots of carbonation streaming through the beer, a deep gold color - 4.00, S: Thick and resiny sweetness on the nose, strong pineapple and tropical fruit with a touch of the some plum and pine, there is also a hint of bubblegum, malt is up front and present and contributes a strong caramel smell, the aromas certainly seem to place this beer firmly in the double IPA category - 4.00, T: Sharp hop bite balanced with tons of malt, very sweet, rum soaked bread - 3.50, M: Smooth and quite thick - 4.25, D: A solid double IPA though edging towards the side of timid - 3.50

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Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.96 out of 5 with 1,723 ratings
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