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 yamar68
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Big thanks to Hessian257 for this one! Long time want...

That's one raw looking IIPA. Hazy light orange body packed with beading that battles all the little bastards doggy paddling in the deep end. A creamy finger of off-white head recedes to a thin but consistent rocky cap. Lace is second to none.

Nose is big but a little muddy. Great blend of abstract citric hops and conifer. A fair amount of caramel malt keeps things interesting.

Juicy citrus with a prickly pine presence and an alcohol character that is less than well-integrated. Vaguely medicinal with a raw, tongue buckling bitterness.

Old school, big and bitter. I love it.

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Photo of popery
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very solid DIPA. Good malt backbone - plenty of caramel flavor without getting too sweet. The hop flavor hits some fairly typical notes, but it’s very well done. Good pine, grapefruit, orange, grass. Very good full feel. Mouthfeel is smooth and thick without being sticky. It’s a bit indelicate with a bit more bland bitterness than ideal, but it still exceeded my expectations for a year-round, easy to find DIPA. Appearance is medium amber with a creamy, off-white head. Easy to drink with plenty of flavor.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Its quickly apparent that its unfiltered with its bright cloudy orange body . Small white head floats on top. Carbonation is average for the style.

The smell Grapefruit and lemon everywhere. Big malty body, with a good bit of bitter grapefruit and lemon rind. Small hint of oranges way in the back that gets almost lost behind the other huge flavors.

I really want more out of the flavor. I was expecting the grapefruit and lemons I got from Columbus Brewing Bodhi, but this is more balanced with the bitterness really coming forward. The malt body is spot on for style, and really just begs for more dry hopped flavors to help it out. The bitter lemon rind and grapefruit peel is just a bit too much, but its do able.

I get this slick hop oil feel that fights with a metallic thing to come out. I like that slick oily citrusy orange/lemon feeling in the back of my throat, but I really dislike the bitter medicinal I get as well.

Overall - This is one of the better DIPAs available here in NC, but I think it could use some improvement for sure. I bit more punch of pungent grapefruit and lemon flavors would make this an incredible DIPA.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a very hazy orange-gold color with lots of yeast particles floating in the body. I like the head on this one - a three finger offwhite shade that looks wonderfully creamy. As it recedes, it leaves behind nice rings of lacing. Floaties aside, this looks fantastic.

S: This one seems to be balanced betwen grapefruit peel/spicy pine hops and biscuity yeast/malt interplay. As it warms up, the malt profile gets stronger. Dare I say it smells like a bigger version of Finest Kind? Err, not quite, but the aromatic qualities are very suitable for what I want.

T: Bitterness hits in a big way past the midtaste. Before that, this starts off rather sweet, with hints of caramel, brown sugar, toffee, and sugar cookie. Bold midtaste flavors of grapefruit peel, pine, black pepper, and even coriander gives way to a finish featuring an earthy sourness to it that I'm not sure what to make of. At first, I thought "argh, yet another IPA that eschews hop flavor for generic bitterness" - except after a few sips, distinct hop flavors do appear, quite vividly at that. Not all of them work for my tastes (never been a fan of pine-forward IPAs), but I admire its moderate complexity and permuting hop qualities. Cut down the pine bitterness a little bit, amp up the grapefruit qualities; and we could be looking at something really fantastic here.

M: It definitely feels like a 'pine-and-crystal-malt' forward DIPA, with its heavy texture and tongue-tingling coarseness on the finish. However, I really admire how easily it is to sip given it's a touch harsh. Maybe it's balanced more than I thought? The finish and aftertaste are VERY dry and mildly boozy, which might not work for everyone. The carbonation never gets in the way of the texture of the body, but the dry, coarse texture could be toned down in order to give the grapefruit hops some more breathing room. Becomes a touch boozy as it warms up.

O: This one definitely grew on me. Really, it's just like a bigger Finest Kind - the first sip doesn't impress, but repeated swigs will allow its greater qualities to show up and catch the seemingly disappointed palate off guard. Well worth considering if you like big, bitter DIPAs.

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Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a slightly cloudy color reminiscent of Sierra Nevada, with tiny particles floating to and fro in the glass. The head is a nice, clean bone white shade that leaves patchy lacing. The aroma in this beer is what garnered the higher grade. Definite hops/pine/resin scents along with citrus notes like orange, grapefruit and lemon rind are noticeable. There is a slight cream to the nose as well, with all the hops notes not being sharp or blunt but more rounded. The taste of this beer does not match up to the aroma, but it is still tasty and nice for a DIPA. For a 120 IBU, you can definitely taste the bitterness, but it isn't that off putting. Everything in the nose can be experienced on the palate, with a slight malt backbone evident.

Overall, a good and solid DIPA from a solid brewery. While it isn't the most amazing imperial Indian pale ale I have ever had, I was definitely able to drink multiple bottles and feel quite satisfied (as well as flushed) when I was done.

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Photo of JWU
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter

A- a hazy golden/orange, massive hop haze. Finger of white head that dissipates in 2-3 minutes but leaves nice lacing.

S- Big smack of citric grapefruit, some pine, and pale malt. Pretty straightforward.

T- Some pale malt sweetness right up front, but is quickly overrun by a blitzkrieg of hops. Grapefruit, and a big resinous pine. Massively bitter, and doesn't even think about letting the malt back through. Some earthy tobacco notes from the hops as well. Bitterness lingers for several minutes after the sip.

M- Decent amount of body for a DIPA. Carbonation is light side of medium. For as bitter as this thing is, it's dry, but not over the top dry.

O- IBU's are certainly 120. Certainly one of the most bitter DIPA's I've had. Enjoyable for one, but no more. A big, bad, brutal heap of hops.

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Photo of Fahz
3.41/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a growler from Craft Beer Exchange in Albany, NY $16.99 More expensive than I had hoped but I was into giving it a try. Poured into a pint glass same day as purchase 1/18/13.

A golden yellow with an orange hue. Held up to light the appearance is cloudy with an aggressive pour the head was more than I expected. A couple fingers reduces pretty quick some lacing on the glass. The growler appears more orange with the pint glass more yellow.

It has the smell of an IPA slighty fruity having trouble getting anything specific as a smell.

Taste at first is good refreshing makes my mouth water but then the bite a bitter taste hits. Some sweetness maybe an orange taste then a bitter grapefruit taste followed by some lemon & acidic pine.

Generally I associate the grapefruit as good in an IPA this reminds me more of a unsweetened white grapefruit a more bitter piney taste with an an oily feel. Definitely an alcohol burn at the end.

DIPAs are stronger, this is, but something just isn't right. Was interested in trying but probably will not be a repeat purchase. The more I drink the more I wish I had of picked up something else, too bad.

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Photo of Jimmys
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. best before 04/29/13.

A: a hazed straw yellow body, orange. tightly bubbled head. bright white. retention is good. spotted lacing.

S: sticky. orange juice. bitter orange rind. pine. and back to the oranges. all the pleasant aromas I enjoy in a DIPA, but missing that WOW factor that would really set it apart from the masses.

T: a big sucker. bitter. slightly unrefined. pine. lots of pine. a sweetness underneath it all. I believe it is half the bottle conditioning yeast component and half derived from the grist. overall flavorful, but similar to the nose nothing that makes it a standout in my opinion.

M: moderate carb on a full bodied brew.

D: read what I said above, twice, good but nothing that makes it outstanding for me. for me, a good means a 4.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 1/7/13

Appearance: Hazy yet bright - deep orange-gold - small, dense, off-white head - fades to a small cap, leaves some nice streaks of lacing

Smell: Grapefruit and orange in abundance - oily citrus rind and pith, mostly - some resiny, damp pine - cooked, lightly caramelized malts - some caramel malts, too, with some toasted biscuits - a hint of alcohol in the back

Taste: No holds barred grapefruit assault - grapefruit juice, flesh, pith, rind, and oil - some sweeter, ruby red grapefruit as well - orange flesh and orange rind - plenty of pine as well - very bitter, which is impressive because the malts are also quite big - mostly caramel malts - lightly caramelized, lightly toasted - biscuits with booze - some juicy citrus in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, very oily, lightly sticky, with some booze heat

Overall: Yes, it's big, but I'm not sure about the "A"

This is a big beer indeed. Very hoppy and very malty. Sadly, neither the hop profile nor the malt profile really stand out. It's good, but nothing to write home about. This kind of reminds me of some other "big" DIPAs, like Great Divide Hercules DIPA. This is not... ideal. Too big for its own pants, or some other more clever metaphor.

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

Served in a snifter. Best before 4/29/13.

A - Tropical, somewhat cloudy, grapefruit orange hue topped by a large pale head. Fantastic retention with a bit of lacing left clinging to the edges of my glass.

S - Lots of warm fruits to speak of here: pear, peach, citrus peel and pineapple. Atop some smooth malts with some floral notes.

T - Much bigger brew than the nose revealed! A large bitter hop profile takes center stage. Warmth towards the end from the booze, all sitting on some bold malts. Not getting near the fruits I was sensing on the nose.

M - Creamy medium body with sub-moderate carbonation.

O - Was looking forward to a sweeter, juicer brew after digging into the nose. Heavy bitterness is ok, I just prefer a bit more in my DIPA's.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Newest batch, best before 04/29/13

A: Pours a golden amber color with an abundance of particulate matter floating throughout. Has about 2 fingers worth of head that leaves some nice lacing

S: Plenty of piney, citrusy, and floral hops along with a solid malt backbone. Hops definitely steal the show

T: Follows the nose. Very pine and citrus forward with an underlying floral background. Malts come in to provide just enough balance. Finishes bitter with a light alcohol bite

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Oily and slick, slightly drying

O: Wow. This one surprised me with the pure hop power. The alcohol edge could be toned down a little in the finish, but really no complaints as it is nearly 10%. Definitely shows the 120 IBUs off nicely (I know, I know, people can't detect over 80 or so, but still). Absolutely worth $10 for a 4-pack

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Photo of BigCheese
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been trying to find this fresh forever, best before april 2013, I'm guessing that makes it 1-1.5 months old.

A: Mellow straw color, thin white head, appears unfiltered. Minimal lacing, could be dirtish glass.

S: Grapefruit, pine, some tropical guava/passion fruit. Very enticing.

T: Hop explosion, pine, grapefruit rind, some dank tasting garlicky herbal notes, with a mouth puckering dry finish. Some mango/papaya tropical fruits in initial wave too. A sweet honey, caramel malt backbone briefly rears its head. Very clean and American tasting.

M: Oily, syrupy, carbonation seems kinda high, a bit fatiguing on palate, but has a nice body to it. Minimal booze burn, well hidden.

O: Crazy hop flavors on this. A great mix of pine, tropical fruit, and dankness. A clean sweet (perhaps dull) malt profile lets the big hops shine. This beer lived up to my expectations. Another winner from smutty, they rarely disappoint.

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

Dark yellow in color with a hazy viscous look. Poured with a short white foam foam that reduced to a soapy cap. Slightly pungent, earthy floral aroma, with honey and sweet, sticky malt and a touch of pine and booze in the deep background. Resinous, dry, fine grainy feel that coats the tip of tongue but an oily, slightly creamy feel in the back of the mouth. Floral and herbal hop flavors seem to twist the tastebuds, although a sticky, honey sweet malty backbone shows its strength beneath. Finishes dryly with a lingering herbal and pine hop bitterness with a pleasant touch of booziness. Don't know that I've tried DIPA quite like this one.

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Photo of Gatch
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best before 4/29/13

A: Golden-copper-orange with a big, fluffy, white head. Huge lace and decent retention.

S: Sweet, roasted malt and booze. Oily, resiny hops.

T: Deliciously fruity, floral hops balanced by sweet, roasted malt and plenty of sugary booze. This is more of an Imperial IPA than Double IPA. The booze doesn't dominate but complements so well.

M: Smooth, creamy, boozy, sugary, slightly hoppy. Drinks well.

O: Having tried this a few months ago when it was very close to the "best by" date and not enjoying it, I was glad to pick up a fresh 4-pack for its most recent release in November of 2012. This is a completely different beer when fresh. Everything I was hoping and expected it to be. Buy it and drink it FRESH!

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

A-Pours with a hint of cloudiness. Glowing honey color. Head is foamy and bright white. Head is not very tall but it laces all over the place. Looks quite attractive.

S-Citrus and lighter notes of pine. Would like a little bit more intensity, but the overall aroma is pretty nice. The citrusy hop smell is complex. You can truly get a few different citrus fruits from the aroma. Sweet but not sweet enough to be balanced. Hop forward.

T-Zesty and citrusy with plenty of grass. Plenty of bitterness. Starts out tangerines, then bulks up to grapefruit, then it twists into grass and finally settles into some fairly coercive pine. A bit sweet, a bit bready. Hops are much more aggressive here than in the nose. I love how straightforward the flavor is.

M-High bitterness and high dryness. Hops sear the palate. Not much booze. Between medium and full in body. Soft carbonation.

O/D-A brutishly bitter DIPA. Smutty's Finest Kind IPA is one of my go-to brews. Its bitter and supremely hoppy. This is cut in the exact same mold. Maybe not the most unique, maybe not the most complex, maybe not the most memorable. Yet Big A, like its little brother Finest Kind, is a forcefully hopped beer that really delivers where it counts.

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Photo of NHcraftbeer
4.61/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So I rarely review here or anywhere that matter. I was compelled to put a quick one up here as clearly the last few were not that positive. Reason being they were older bottles. This beer has been off the market for about 6 months, which is the length of time Smutty codes for. This was recently re released for the season and is in top form. Absolutely as good as the best stuff out there. Just ripping with tropical fruit, fantastic carbonation, and real light malt backbone, which lends just enough sweetness to bring out the fruit. Awesome beer find it fresh and drink it!

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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 jameswaldo
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a Best Before 10/10/12 bottle into pint glass high enough to bring head to rim.
A: head is gelatinous, creamy white and persistent. Leaves very stubborn lacing and a fine scummy layer of fizz on top that doesn't leave at all. Brew is turbid hazy Creamsicle orange; near SRM 8, but neon in a weird way.
S: smells only slightly hoppy; ethanol and yeast are equally predominant. No floral, pine, or grass, so I'm expecting some big bittering.
T: delicious! The bitter bites very gently, but goes all the way down, leaving excellent persistent hoppy aftertastes that make saliva glands under the tongue drool like crazy. Hops hang on so long I have to go find a beer pretzel and some St Aubrey cheese to go with it. Ethanol fumes come back up through the nose.
M: unctuous, creamy, juicy, perfectly carbonated, lets you luxuriate holding a mouthful for quite a while, not sure if you want to swallow. Swallowing is good, too, though!
O: the big alcohol makes me leery of opening a second bottle right away. Otherwise I would go for a refill. This is Big Beer. I usually like more aromatic hops in the nose, but this goes down so well I don't miss them. I don't think I could drink this rascal without some kind of food to help defend myself. The stinky high-fat cheese and pretzel go with it real nicely. So would a pizza, I imagine.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass. Pours a rusty orange with a small amount of head but good lacing. Smells and taste is sweet overpowering malts. Some hops are present in aroma, and more in taste. Its a bit bitter and very malty but mellows out as it warms. Its deff a big beer. Booze is present and mouthfeel is full. Overall, its ok. Its too much sweetness and too bitter to be enjoyablke, but I will finish it.

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Photo of PhantasIPA
3.77/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured very cloudy with a small head and occasional lacing.

At first it smelled like a strong IPA then the real waft of fuming alcohol came in. It is pretty intense and smells like pine and grapefruit.

Taste is just like the smell - very alcoholic, piney, and a kick of the bitter sweet, grapefruit citrus taste.

Mouthfeel is pretty carbonated - lots of burping...It is very heavy and overwhelms the mouth with flavor, bitterness and alcohol. It is very dry.

Overall it is a good beer but it has such a strong alcohol taste I would hope it would be about 12%, not 9.6%. Overall I like it but it is a heavy brew.

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

Purchased this as a single in WI. Just hitting best by date of 7/12.
Initial fresh ripe fruit, sweet a little tart and very pleasant. Followed by hop oil with a more piney quality- strong but not pushing to the point of unpleasantness. Firm pale malt backing. Through drink holds a pleasing perfume quality.
Attractive. Slightly clear gold amber with off-white firm dense head, leaving some dripping lacing.
Forward and firm bitterness, with minimal harshness and general smoothness. Pretty quick hit of warmth in the gut and very long finish of said bitterness, but also holding a grapefruit flavor. Hop oils mask some of the more pleasant flavored hop flavors. Ample malt support, but it appears largely pale malt in origin as it adds little to flavor.
Body is big enough to hold all the hops with a more than moderate, but not quite heavy feel.
A nice beer, but too much bitterness and not enough flavor (from either hops or malt). Hop oils are reasonably subdued, but make their unnecessary appearance periodically.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: single finger head with nice lacing on a hazy pale golden body. Excellent lacing.

S: beautifuly strong aroma with grapefruit, candied orange and caramel but overall simple.

T: malt forward IPA treading into barleywine territory with candied fruits, earthy hops, caramel malts and honey.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: this one is good but doesn't stand out in a genre which has many top brews.

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Photo of peabody
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a cloudy yellow/amber with very little suds but nice lacing around the glass.
Smell is grapefruit and sharp hop with some alcohol in the back. I was expecting a little more aroma.
Taste is mellow pink grapefruit with some sugar and lots of rind. Subsequent tastings yeild a bit of tangerine and orange peel. The alcohol is hidden well.
Mouthfeel is just a tad sticky but quickly finishes very clean with only the bitterness left in the palate and the lingering booziness of the alcohol in the back of the throat.
Overall this is a different tasting IPA but in a good way.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.57/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Good till August 29 2012.

A hazy cloudy body, of a dull peach orange, sort of a faint orange amber. Head is creamy looking off white, got some good retention and lots of staying power.

Real nice mix of graham cracker malt, sweet and chewy dense, faint citrus and apricot hop bent comes rolling in through the back. Nice balance, nothing vibrant, just real solid.

Taste has a very huge sharp unexpected hop bitter. Mid palate fills initialy with the sweet thick graham cracker milkiness, then it's a quick fast bitter asault on the senses. Very fleeting finish and a strong dry burning pine that doesn't match the simple fruit character of the nose. Mouthfeel is strangely… hard to even pinpoint with this incredibly bitter hop angle, but it lacks some body and coating aspects. Really big oily stick on the lips of hop pine, and the bitterness is really not that enjoyable.

Overall, the pugilist character on the front does give the brew a distinct and accurate statement. This does feel like a very jarring and QUICK jab to the senses. But it doesn't leave you feeling like having another one unfortunately, but.. maybe not. I am on the fence.

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Photo of davewlfpckfan29
3.48/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice imperial IPA. Not your typical American IPA. There is a more unique kind of taste that I get from this. This beer actually reminds me a lot of Dogfish heads 90 minute.

For a double IPA it has a lot more going on with the flavor. I find that there is grapefruit, pine taste, a grassy resemblance, and even a little bit of caramel.

I had the beer on May 28, on a bottle that says best by Aug 12 so its definitely fresh. The head retention was good on the head.

My only complaint with this beer might be the texture and the aftertaste. There is a bit of a oily feel to it.

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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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