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 beergeek279
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 22 oz. bomber, into a pint glass. The color is golden, with a nice foamy head retention. The smell is a nice citrusy hop. The taste is quite malty for an IPA, with a nice bitter hop just coming through in the taste and leaving a bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is average. Drinkability-wise, could have a few.

A unique IPA, where there's actually malt present. Though not one of my personal favorites, this is a good beer nonetheless, and certainly one I'd have again.

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

The beer once unstowed from the bottle pours to a “Sumerian Tranced” orange color, heavily laden with dross, both in suspension and slowly settling to the bottom, head is gargantuan in size, creamy in consistency and the color a toothsome light tan and after transmogrification a thick and sticky sheet of lace forms to obscure the glass from view. Monstrous hop floral nose, citrus crisp, under pinned by the sweet malt, fresh and pleasing to the senses, start is thickly malt, lightly sweet and the top middling in feel. “ZAP, ZING, ZOW” hops slap your taste buds to life, massively hopped, delectably bitter to the senses, bleached desert bone dry. Hop spiciness remains till the very end then some, “Awesome” is a word that comes to mind.

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

22oz bomber. Somewhat cloudy orangey color. Sweet, sugary hoppy aroma, grapefruit in there as well. Mouthfeel is spot on, just a hint of carbonation. Bitter hop flavor but I wouldn't say this is a hop monster, not something that will destroy your taste buds. Too bad! I can't tell if its balanced well or just isn't as hoppy as I had expected. I think a little of both. Has some caramel flavor to balance the hops. Kind of a sweeter IPA. I've had better, I'll have better, but I am enjoying this one.

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Photo of aaronh
4.67/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy orange amber body topped by a cream colored head of moderate size. Decent lacing clings to the side of the glass. Beautifully sweet floral hops blend almost perfectly with the malty goodness. On the tongue, it's a hop puree laced with hints of malty sweetness. Resinous pine, grapefruit, and rose hips assault the senses, as the malt body guards keep them from doing permanent damage. Mouthfeel is thick and robust, as is needed with the profusion of hops. This is immensely drinkable for those who love the power of the cone. But if you feel "mad hops" have more to do with basketball than great beers, this one may be a bit too strong. The Killer Kielbasa threw a knockout punch with this one. East Coast? Really? Niiice...

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Photo of nomad
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a murky orange turning almost copper with a soft pillow head. Had a checkerboard of stain from a wide wash of lace, bolstered by lots of champagne-like carbonation. A fair beauty in the glass, I say.

Smelled of rich honey on a body of moderate fruit scents, sometimes leaning toward bitter hop notes. The floral accents are large and far from delicate, combining with the malty scents for a rosy and appreciative beer. Sweet-ish but alluring, greatly helped by the amber malt behind the hops, I kinda like it.

Tasted of big bitterness and big juiciness: grapefruit, floral, pine, and some chalky dryness - a full load of what hops can do. Truly, this is a load of hop juice with many shades to it, though it is rounded out by a thick amber/caramel malt underneath and a touch of warming alcohol. A thicker mouthfeel and I rather like it that way, for it undergirds the hop profile well.

Sturdy, rough, and full, this is a well-made IPA and a great choice at its price and size ($3 for a 22 oz. bomber). Great label design, too. I tip my glass to Smuttynose!

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

From the 22oz bomber.

Pours a clear bright gold with a big lacy creamy white head. Smells of sweet hops and nothing else.

Hops taste is prominent. Very very hoppy and not much else. Can't taste much malt here. Light bodied with a big hops bitterness. Persistent hoppy aftertaste. Bold beer, if uncomplicated. Very drinkable, especially for 8%.

This beer has but one mission: batter your palette with hops and it does it well. Would be nice if the malt stood up better but still a very tasty IPA.

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

Big A's bright, resinous, piney, juicily citrus (orange!), and caramel-laced biscuit malt nose delivers a slap; and it doesn't back down from there! This is an aggressive beer that pulls no punches! It's frothy white head holds quite well, and it leaves sheets of lace throughout the glass. Its hazy, bronze body displays golden highlights and a miriad of suspended sediment that suggests that it has quite a full body to it. The mouthfeel backs that up with a solid body and gently zesty carbonation that's lightly crisp but warms to become creamy. The flavor revisits the piney hop flavors found in the aroma with a lighter citrus side and an increased appearance of alcohol over a slick, caramel, tofee, and honey-coated biscuit-like maltiness. It's sweet, but also dryish. The bitterness is bold but not overwhelming; and it actually balances the full maltiness quite nicely. The resinous quality of the hop flavor, in fact, really stands out. The orange-like citrus character is limited, and it doesn't have the complexity that the nose offers. It finishes quite dry and astonishingly long with some lingering biscuity, toffee-ish, and lightly toasty maltiness beneath resinous, piney, and grassy hop flavors.

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

A hazy golden yellow colored brew topped in a massive coating of white foam that leaves lace all over the glass. Big aroma of spicy hops. Grassy and citrusy with sweet aromas of lemon-lime gatorade hidden behind it. Interesting whiffer.

This brew has much more body than I had expected. The bitterness is also a lot more than I thought it would be. Very smooth. It has a big blast of grassy hops to start you off with pine notes as well as bitter orange peels. It starts to give way to some sweeter flavors, but it only does this for a while as the bitterness comes in strong at the finish. The aftertaste gets a bit more mild as you are left with one last dry burp of floral flavor. This is a fine IPA, but it is not an unbeleivable IPA. It is much better than average, but it is just not the best.

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

On Tap at Anam Cara

Big A pours a an unfiltered orange color with a sticky white head and great lacing. Big A smells very citrusy with an undercurrent of dry hops. As far as tast goes I was kind of underwhelmed. Big A has a very mild taste not at all hoppy for an IPA. Now I'm not saying that this is a bad beer, far from it, Big A just doesn't separte itself from the pack as far as IPAs go.

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Photo of gueuzegeek
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

As I poured this, I noted the nice full head that lingered quite a while, and left some lovely belgian lace as it went down. This beer was a really nice hazy orangy gold color, so my anticipation was high. There were some floral hop aromas but not nearly as much as other IPAs I have sampled. There were some yeasty undertones to the aroma as well.

The body was okay, but nothing earth shaking. The taste presented some decent bittering from the hops and the yeastiness was somewhat present as well. I let it sit for a little while (10-15 minutes)and went back to it after I had eaten a little pizza and the alcohol taste was very obvious and it even smelled like it to me too! So, I decided to see what affect another food item might have so I tried peanuts and that characteristic abated, then, just to push it, I moved on to cheese nips and there it was, back again!! I then had a small lindt chocolate and once again it subsided. This just goes to show, if you taste something off about a beer, give it a try without food and then with various foods.

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

Another brew I've been longing to try, thanks to Slob for the bomber! Slightly hazy golden orangish colored with a lumpy off white head. Big beautiful piney citrusy hop aroma with a hint of nectarine begs me to consume. Full bodied smooth and tingly with its carbonation. Biting bitterness at the end and this is my kind of IPA. Glass is half empty now and peppered with remnants of what was a thick head. Flavor is fantastic, chewy hops with a malt underlining. This is similar to the 2Hearted from Bells but bigger. One agressive IPA and its name suits it well.

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

This BigA IPA pours with some viscosity. It appears to have a Big Ass Body. Coper with a glowing orange aspect about it that I love. Not much of a head. Some bubbles here and there and a bubbly collar. Nose is nice. Almost smells like a good barleywine. If anything, maybe this is more of an English Style IPA and appears more malty on the nose than I'm used to for an IPA. It's good though. Thick carmaly malt tones splattered with pine resin essence. Lo and behold, this beer does have a full body. Mouthfeel is somewhat creamy but quite chewy as well. The flavors are Big Ass Huge in this beer. The malting is heavy with the caramel tones and has some English toffee slant to it as well. The hop attributes are Hugely resinous. Piney and bitter. Somewhat herbal, but with some rind qualities as well. I get both English and American qualities out of this one. Quite good.

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Photo of LiamStLiam
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty honey brown.

Big head, typical of the style, a shade darker than whitish.

It's funny, I had this right after the Alaskan Sockeye IPA and it almost tasted like a different style. This does not have the bite typical IPA. Milder than I expected.

Lasts a long time, fills your mouth.

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

I just loved the picture on the label and hey it says the guy is Polish so what could be wrong with this beer? It seems like they make imperial everything nowadays and this beer is no exception to the imperialization of normal gravity beers. What is interesting about this Big IPA is that while it is wonderfully bitter the strength of it does not ruin the taste of the IPA. In fact without knowing that it is an imperialized beer I would not have know so, because there is very little residual alcohol flavors in it. So this is definitely a good brewing job to say the least. Don't get me wrong it is pretty strong. I don't know if this in the same league as the Dog Fish Head varieties of strong IPAs, but they definitely give them a run for their money.

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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber with a note that pugilist Stash Wojciechwski created this IPA for the Big Beer Series. $3.99 at Wine N Beer Westpark.

Poured a cloudy honey-orage in color. Thick and amazingly sticky white head leaves distinct rings around the glass. Aroma is "kick yo' ass" hops. It's like a used car ad: Come on down to Leapin' Larry's. We got all sorts of hops: citrus hops, pine hops, flower hops. You name it...I've got it! A virtual cornucopia of hops for the nose. Alcohol definitely noted as well. Taste is all hops. ABV is slightly overbearing in this one (is that a bad thing?). A war is waged between the hops and ABV to see who can win. Scurrying around in the background lies the malt. Too intimidated to show itself, it skulks about, watching the two masters battle on the battleground that is your palate. Exhausted, the ABV surrenders in defeat, begging for mercy. A heavyweight fight has just occurred in your mouth, and you've felt every punch. ABV leaves you slightly dazed and confused. Finish is minimal, and intensely bitter. A "pissed off at the world" bitter. Mouthfeel? Very good. Smooth when it needs to be, raw and abrasive when you think about not respecting this beer. Drinkability is good as well. Overall, a great beer, but just ever-so-slightly unrefined. Smoothing out the raw, hoppy bitterness (did I actually just say that a beer could be...*gasp*...TOO hoopy?!?) would make this a true contender.

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Photo of John
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber. Bottle conditioned...though it doesn't state this on the label. I poured the whole lot of it and behold, a ton of chunky yeast in my glass. How's about a warning Smutty? Anyway the liquid that's inside the bottle is enough to allow me to forgive this oversight. The color is a hazy orange with a huge citrus aroma. The head is lacking, even with a vigorous pour. The taste is impressive. Monstrous fruity hop flavor smacks your buds around. Orange, tangerine, grapefruit. The malt contributes minimally to the flavor, but provides a substantial backbone in terms of body. Hops are oily, spicy, fruity, peppery. An alcohol warming effect balance the hops somewhat. Slick mouthfeel. All this for $2.95 for a bomber? Hell yeah. This could be a regular in my fridge. Well done Smutty.

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

The beer is a honeyed amber color, topped with a frothy, oily looking head. The head dies out to a thin ring after a couple sips, leaving some blobs of lace clinging to the glass.
Aroma is powerfully hoppy, dominated by citric, piney hoppiness. Hops are rich and oily smelling, with some grapefruit and herbal aroma. Solid malt backs up the hops, with a mild toastiness and a slight apple and apricot aroma. Very hoppy, yet balanced.
Flavor is initially surprising, with the hops not quite so dominant. A strong maltiness starts off the sip, some toastiness and a touch of caramel. Very light fruitiness just as the hops enter, with some apple, pear, and a touch of diacetyl buttery flavor. The hops charge in, trampling the malt with an oily citric, piney flavor. The hops seem to gather steam the further into the pint you get, completely overpowering the malt, besides a small band of guerilla malt lingering right up front, trying to hold off the hops for a second. Huge resiny hop finish, leaving an oily hoppiness lingering in your mouth for hours. I could taste it through a sandwich an hour later. Full bodied, with smooth carbonation sliding through the oily hoppiness.
Very hoppy, yet somehow miraculously balanced. Definitely a big beer. I get tired of hops fairly quickly, and at 7%, this isn't really something I could drink much of. Very tasty, well worth a try at least once. One of my favorite IPAs, and definitely my favorite big styled IPA.

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

Twentytwo ounce brown bottle, 2003 edition.

Medium gold, glowing, with a chill haze, but otherwise clear. Capped by a perfect 2 fingers of dense off white foam. Head recedes slowly revealing a bit a sticky lace.

Bright citrusy hops fill the nose & are complemented by a sublte bready aroma.

A dull hop attack gives way to biscuit, raw grain, a bit of sweet caramel, & a tiny bit of breadiness. Then a quick hit of bitterness, a bit of citrus, and a slow burning muted hop fire. Finishes quite dry. Hops linger in the aftertaste. Orangey hop flavours become juicier as it warms.

Just shy of full bodied, with prickly carbonation.

An IPA that I can get on board with. The folks at Smuttynose really outdid themselves with this one.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage ~

My hand almost trembles pouring this beer. Its like ripping off the wrapping paper of a gift you already know is going to be awesome. Fills the glass with a super clean, slightly dark gold liquid. Its actually pretty close to orange in color with a big two-finger foamy head. Ooh-la-la.

Holy f-ing hops batman. The smell of the Big A is like a whole hop bine crammed into a glass. Very strong, fresh hops scents dominate along with the spiciness that accompany them. There is also a faint alcohol scent that lingers in the back. What a great smell, I sure missed this stuff!

Taste is very much like a remember. Sweet, spicy and bitter with that tongue drying hoppiness I've grown to love. What a perfect combo for a beer of this magnitude. Finding balance with a beer this strong and hoppy can be tough, but Smuttynose does a great job and I really don't think its that much of a one sided hop bomb. The malty sweetness balances things out really well.

Oh the hops! The Big A's IBUs are pretty damn high and the hop oils and resins are definitely going to have a big impact on your taste buds. This is hop heaven.

5 years ago I wrote the following (kind of funny since I was rather new to beer reviewing and just getting my feet wet). I've edited my stupidity for a bit of humor.

2003 Vintage ~

This was a nice surprise, Smutty doesn't make an IPA (say what?) usually that I am aware of, so I didn't know what to expect. It was clean and crisp. Nicely hopped and invigerating at 7% (umm, I think its a little higher than that). It had a nice amber color with a head that poured well and than slank away. A nice small batch beer by a fairly well known brewery in New England.

ALSO-The 22 oz. bottle is great, it has a picture of the "Killer Kielbasa" on it, a bare knuckle boxer from the looks of him.

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Photo of jeffboo
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very nice IPA from the NorthEast.

In the glass, it's a nice orange color with a thick creamy head. It has a Big hop aroma - floral and citric, with a little buttery malt in the backround. The body is medium to full, very drinkable, and it finishes toasted malt and bitter hop bitterness. The flavor is floral hop based with a clover and honey mix with a nice, but basic malt backbone. This one does fit in nicely with Summer of 2003 big IPA'S.

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Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber

Smuttynose(just that word is cool) has been turning out some top notch beers as of late. The porter was exceptional and this one gets high marks as well. Poured a deep amber color with a white delicate head and plenty of craggy lace.

Smell was full of alcohol esters, maple syrup, plenty of huge floral hops and a fair bit of malts. At this point I was unsure what kind of beer I would be getting. English style or American?

Taste started off with a huge, creamy mouthfeel full of spicy hops, honey like malts huge bitter aftertaste that tsted very fresh and the alcohol tasted almost like the aftertaste of vodka with notes of that kind of medicinal pine. As I poured the remenents into the glass there were some floaties which I did not expect. However, they were a pleasent surprise. They mellowed the vodka flavors and the hops into a more floral rose petal taste.

This has the base of an English IPA with just enough of the west coast hop profile to be its own beer. A very tasty one at that!

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

Well it has been awhile since my last review, damn moving and buying of a new house. I seem lost without my BA. This brew pours a light amber color with a hint of haze. A small head leaves a nice sexy lace behind.

The aroma is very hoppy hence the IPA, I really like IPA's so I really enjoy smelling this beer. The maltiness is over powered by the hops.

Bitter really bitter is the only thing we can say about these hops, but very good. I love the flavor of hops in my beer.

Overall this is a great brew, from a good brewery.


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Photo of MaineBeerMan
4.57/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a nice peach flesh shade of orange with plenty of long lasting white foam that leaves clumps of sticky lace on the sides of the glass.
The aroma is super deep, full of fruity, piney earthy hops, with subtle hints of malt sweetness around the edges. I must have spent a full minute inhaling the awome aroma of this brew before I ever brought it to my lips for a taste! One of the best smelling brews I have had.
The first thing I can say about the flavor is juicy, almost like a big dose of grapeftuit was tossed into the brew. Oily hop resins with an array of flavors dominate the taste of this beer, citrusy fruits and a great floral quality are most notable. The hops are almost, but not quite balanced out by the nice malt presence, but the malt remains in the background. Make no mistake, this is an IPA that is all about the hops. Lasting hop flavor is all over the finish on every sip of this beer.
This brew has a really slick, smooth mouthfeel, with a thinner than expected mouthfeel that I would rate as a medium body. This contributes heavily to making it a very quaffable beer that begs for another sip immediately after you swallow the last one.
Overall a very tasty brew, I could drink these all day and night although at 7% abv I would probably have a rather short night.

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Photo of rabidawg
3.87/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Hazy orange-yellow with slight carbonation. Small head that did leave a decent lace.

Smell: Malt and hops seemed well balanced; neither truly stood out. Noticeable peppery spiciness. Alcohol well hidden, with ripe fruits providing the backdrop.

Taste: Sweet, almost too sweet, as it hits the tongue. Definitely not as hoppy as I expected at first. Hops kick in after the swallow, providing a drying bitterness without the big hop aromatics I expected. More subdued than most big IPAs, and not very balanced. The malt dominates in an almost cloying sweet way. Tastes like a mix of EKU 28 and an IPA.

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Photo of marc77
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Light bronze hue, with a slight murk. Frothy, bushy, persistent ivory white head leaves brambly textured, sparse lace. Acuate waft of crisp and juicy orange citrus upfront in aroma is contrasted by clement light caramel malt and biscuit sweetness. As the beer breathes, citrus like hop oils dissipate, revealing both a static, slightly grassy, herbal hop note as well as faint ethanol heat. Unique, somewhat raw, and enticing aromawise. Transient burst of barbed hop bitterness initially in flavor fades surprisingly quickly, and is superceded by a dominant buttery diacetyl and toffeeish caramel malt combination. Hop flavor surfaces after a deliberation and is expectedly citrusy, albeit of a non descript citrus fruit character due to the pervasive malt sweetness. Base pale malt undertone augments late and becomes lightly toasty, lending a marmalade on toast suggestion characteristic of many American IPAs. Agreeably viscous and creamy in mouthfeel, from perhaps a combination of a low attenuating yeast and ample caramel malt derived dextrins. Finishes with a protracted, but pleasant melange of mellow hop bitterness and fleeting candyish toffee. Big A is an unusual, certainly malt driven brew, with hop character secondary. It's a touch sweet and heavy on the palate for easy drinking, but what else does one expect from a Big A IPA? Very tasty and akin to American IPA / Old Ale hybrid. This could cellar well. Big thanks to Bierman9 for delivering a beer I've wanted to taste for a while.

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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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