Big Sky IPA | Big Sky Brewing Company

very good
1,170 Ratings
Big Sky IPABig Sky IPA

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
In Montana, many classic memories are made right after someone says, “Hold my beer and watch this.” These bold, assertive moments deserve a bold, assertive beer – Big Sky IPA. A distinct hop presence and malty backbone will leave you refreshed and ready for your moment of glory. Hang on tight and enjoy the ride.

65 IBU

Added by beernut7 on 08-18-2002

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,170 |  Reviews: 474
Photo of beertunes
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a clean, clear, coppery amber color with about a half inch of off-white head that had decent retention and lacing.

I found the aroma to be a pleasant surprise. I'm generally less than impressed with Big Sky's beers, but this had a strong, bold citrus hop scent, with a hint of pine and a bit of malt in the background. The flavors follow along nicely, solid hops and nice hops, playing together very well.

The body was fairly typical, perhaps a touch fuller than most. Drinkability was very good, I could drink a couple of these. Overall, this is a pleasant surprise of a brew, it's my bad that I've skipped over it for so long. Give it a shot.

 677 characters

Photo of brewmudgeon
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

big sky ipa

a 4 clear coppery amber, pleasing head and lacing.

s 3.5-4 apart from a touch of malty sweetness, this nose is almost pure grapefruit pith. could stand to be more powerful.

t 3.5-4 for a 6.2% ipa, this drinks a touch small. niceley balanced, but pretty 1-dimensional. grapefruit is the primary flavor--tastes just like it smells. but whereas the rindy bitterness dominates the first half of the glass, the malt asserts itself thereafter, which is actually pretty nice. it's a lightly toasted caramelly malt. so maybe it's 2-dimensional.

m 4 right about medium body, little lighter, the carbonation is of good quality.

d 4-4.5 while i generally prefer more lushness, stickyness and complexity in an IPA, this is a solid offering and very drinkable.

 766 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Clear, medium amber color with a reddish tint. The head consists of one finger of custard-colored foam. Moderate lacing remains on the glass.

S: Fairly dark and syrupy, with toffee, pine foliage, apple cider, and orange citrus.

T: Begins off-dry, acidic, vinous early. Crystal malt stands out but hop flavors are muted, tasting of weak pine. Earthy tea emerges in the middle. The finish has an abundance of fruity esters and significant astringency, but is only mildly bitter.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, slightly sticky on the palate, with low carbonation.

D: Despite relatively low abv for the style, some unappealing qualities limit drinkability. This beer struggles with flavor appeal, being at times off-putting and at best unremarkable. Still, it does not seem entirely out of style if compared to English-style IPAs.

 880 characters

Photo of pmccallum86
3.2/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a reddish golden color with a light bubbly head.

Smell is mostly of malt with a slight hop aroma coming through as well.

Taste is light bitter hops with light sweet malts in the back, some bitterness from the hops comes though. It is decent, but not great.

Mouthfeel is light and creamy with medium carbonation. Nothing sticks out here, very average.

Average IPA, not good but not bad either.

 402 characters

Photo of WJVII
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass this brew has a bright orange color that is quite transparent with a slight amber glow in the light with a foamy 2 finger head that leaves sticky lacing down the glass as it settles to a little less than a full cap. The aroma is striking with more citrus than spice. The flavor matches with a mighty citrus punch and a solid bitter finish and after taste. The carbonation is moderate to high allowing all of the flavors to explode in your mouth. This by far was the best Big Sky that I have had in the variety pack.

 540 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
3.61/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to THECPJ for this one!

A: Pours a clear ruby/copper color with a chunky, two finger, offwhite head which sticks around a while. Nice chunky lacing down the sides.

S: A subtly citrus aroma, heavier on the malt side. The hops present as some grapefruit and orange. There is a sweetness from the malt, a little bit of caramel as well.

T: A nice citrus flavor up front, more grapefruit. This is followed by some caramel malts, heavier on the malts than expected. Slightly bitter with a a little bit of a metallic taste.

M/D: Medium bodied, felt that it was lacking in carbonation slightly. Overall, it was good, the metallic taste brought it down as did the mouthfeel. Taste was good though, a solid drinkable IPA.

 724 characters

Photo of jbone78
3.61/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Given to me by a friend for my birthday. I've been going through some birthday mix sixers.

Pours dark golden, light amber color with a nice head that disappears fast. Not a lot of nose, but I can detect a little citrus. Taste is balanced well with a grapefruit flavor. Carbonation is right on, but there is a lingering bitterness that I dislike. A nice solid citrusy IPA that would be better in the summer, not December, my fault.


 439 characters

Photo of tempest
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my friend Alek for sharing his 6-pack. This reminded me of a Simcoe-heavy pale ale, and I'm pretty sure those are the leading hops here. It's that smooth and fruit juice-like flavor with a perfumed earthy notes. There's a bit of honey malt and a balanced, but not too thick, body, making for a tasty IPA you can drink a few bottles of. If you're into the Simcoe character, check this out.

 398 characters

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.39/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to BuckeyeNation for the brew.

A - It pours a brassy amber hue, capped with not so much off-white head.

S - The hop bouquet is unusual, but quite nice; it is leafy and minty (but not tea-like.) There is a fair amount of toasty pale maltiness in the nose, too.

T - I am pleasantly surprised; overall the flavor is super nice, albeit understated. I get some peach notes, and great balance, as my first impressions. Succeeding quaffs tell me that this is one of the most easily enjoyable IPAs I've had. It is not a hop-bomb, it is more about harmony of flavor. Soft fruity and floral notes sit atop a delicious toasty malt. Peach, lemon and jasmine impressions are suggested in the finish. Pristine water from "Big Sky Country" may play a part in the total quality of flavor, as it is very clean and crisp.

M - IPA. Very good, in this case. The feel captures some of the creaminess of an English IPA or Brown Ale.

D - This is super easy-drinking, and quite high in quality (if a bit of a departure from the West Coast style IPA.)

 1,042 characters

Photo of zhanson88
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Big Sky IPA pours a medium copper color with a full 2 fingers of light caramel head. Takes a while to reduce, leaving some decent lacing. Very nice look to it.

Smell: Some caramel malts, grapefruit, and quite a bit of floral hoppiness.

Taste: I get quite a bit of maltiness up front. Some grapefruit as well, and all of the hoppiness is floral. It seems there is some very different opinions of this beer in terms of balance. I find it reasonably well balanced, but I like my IPAs to clearly lean towards hops.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Mouthfeel is pretty nice, a bit on the light side with decent carbonation. Overall, this is a very drinkable beer that is nicely balanced. At 6.2% alcohol it even seems sessionable.

 731 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a GameWorks shaker pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing his Montana Mixer!

That sky ain't so big... The brew underneath pours a mostly clear straight amber topped by a half-finger of white foam. The nose comprises pine, piny grapefruit, and caramel; standard IPA fare. The taste holds notes of slightly watered-down pine and ruby red grapefruit and some slightly smoky toffee. The body is a kinda hefty light, with a light carbonation and a fluid feel. Overall, a very nice IPA, very standard, but tasty enough and very drinkable.

 547 characters

Photo of ahking
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Took one sip of this beer and rushed to the computer to write a review.

I was actually first surprised by the pour. A nice deep copper color rushes out of the bottle filling the glass with a off white frothy head that lives there a little before creating a rig around the glass.

Aroma is sweet of caramel, honey, and milk-toast with some cirtusy hop flowers.

This IPA is not too bitter and not too sweet. Some great citrusy hop flavor, but it doesnt stick to your mouth. Awesome carmelized malt sweetness is perfectly balanced.

Mouthfeel is really crisp and not too sweet. Really nice carbonation.

 605 characters

Photo of Vdubb86
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

Finishing off the Montana Mixer, this one pours a clear copper color, frothy off-white head that leaves nice lacing. The smell is of lemon and pine that would indicate a good hop presence. Slight caramel notes are in the background. The taste is hoppy upfront with lemon and lime being the most active flavors followed by slight hints of burnt biscuit. There is a good deal of bitterness on the back end of the palate, but it is washed away by the sweet malty flavor to finish. While still bitter this beer is still relatively mild in bitterness as compared to most IPAs. This is a nice medium bodied IPA that works real well on the palate. It's definitely a good beer to have in the fridge for any occasion.

 732 characters

Photo of StJamesGate
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours ruby amber with a slow-fading dense tawny head that sticks and sheets. Caramel apple tart and orange Bubblicious nose. Starting out to be a big beer. Big strawberry rhubarb malts, an arresting cotton candy hit in the middle, and tropical fruit punch and orange rind hops with some lemony high notes. Black pepper burn in the resiny finish. Lingering IBUs. Chewy, medium, oily and round.

DIPA in an IPAs clothing. Nice fruity Simcoe backed with plenty of caramel backbone.

 479 characters

Photo of jacobseyb
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter a nice golden-amber color with an offwhite head. Smell is quite good with a mix of piney and citrus hops and some latent caramel hops. Taste is very crisp and much more piney with the citrus and caramel playing more of a background role. Feel is very carbonated with a great amount of oiliness from the hops. Overall a very good IPA.

 371 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In tap at the brewery in August 2009. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a pale apricot orange color win a white head. Some clingy lacing. Nose brings rich citrus and a bit of floral aspects. Taste is a bit bready with some pale malt. Slight bitterness and some orange and citrus. Feel is light to medium with good carbonation. Drinks quite well. One of my favorites from them.

 370 characters

Photo of buschbeer
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured into a pint glass to two inches of light tan head. It is a deep amber color. The aroma is citrus with grapefruit being the dominant smell. The flavor citrus with grapefruit standing out. There is not as much bitterness as I've has with other IPA's. With a solid malt backbone, this is a solid example of a midwest IPA. The mouthfeel is medium and I'm left with a slight coating on my tongue. Overall, I enjoyed this beer and wouldn't hesitate to try again.

 465 characters

Photo of Spica66
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received a Big Sky 12-pack sampler from my brother-in-law Jerry that was hand-delivered by brother-in-law Neil. Great effort family-team!

A: Light amber color with knockout head formation, retention and lacing. Very nice looking beer in the glass.

S: Very hoppy and leaning towards the citrus side of the hops. Malt is barely there in the nose.

T: Very strong hop profile here. This not as bitter as say a Ruination, and not as floral as fresh Gumballhead. The malt body is o.k., but the hops are the main stars of the show here.

M: Mouthfeel is slightly watery, but it seems to fit in with the level of carbonation to make a decent hop-pop experience.

D: Very nice flavor and body make this a very easy to drink beer.

 723 characters

Photo of aaron12
4.6/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

this is my favorite ipa. to me it's perfect. i have waited to review this beer because of that reason, i wanted to make sure it was true. i first tried big sky ipa about two years ago. each time i come back to it, it blows me away. the perfect blend of hops and malt. others have said this is a "classic" tasting ipa. meaning tastes a lot like the first american ipas of the late 80's early 90's. well, i don't know about that cause i wasn't drinking ipas back then, but i don't feel that this is a "safe" ipa in any way. it's not easy to make such a great tasting ipa at 6.2, and i've had many other old school american ipas but they still don't hit the same spot. this has become my standard for which to base other ipas. thank you big sky, i'm here to stay.

 760 characters

Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tall thin glass.

Pours a crystal clear pale orange under one finger of puffy off-white head. As this head starts to recede, a frothy lace is left in its wake. Nice work here...

Predominantly citrus in the nose. Smells like this is going to be a sugar crusted bitter tongue-slapper of an IPA. Orange, a bit of bergamot and lime, and pineapple! Some small malts are somewhere underneath but I can barely detect them. Strong work.

Flavor profile follows the nose in a fulfilling way, with the exception of more malt showing up than what was detected by my nose. Isn't as bitter as it could be, which might be a bonus or a drawback. I am not in the mood to have my palate scorched by anything overly raucous, so this is right where I prefer it. The taste could be a little more floral and a little richer, but it is still good.

I love the way some IPAs coat your mouth and almost feel oily (in a good way) they are so smooth. I do not get this ultra-smooth nectar quality with Big Sky. The body is full enough to be satisfying however. Drinkability is very good.

Conclusion: A more sessionable IPA than many because of balance and no over-malting or over-bittering. Balanced as it should be, carbonated as it should be, hoppy enough to satisfy many a hophead. This is a good beer all around, but here in the U.S. there is a plethora of outstanding IPAs running around, and this stiff level competition drives Big Sky out of the highest circle reserved for the most sublime nectars. I would recommend over many others however. In fewer words: Try It.

 1,566 characters

Photo of drabmuh
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a nonic pint glass. Beer is amber and slightly hazy. Lots of lacing with moderate carbonation.

Aroma is sweet with minor piny aroma.

Beer is medium bodied and has a moderate bitterness. It's kind of sweet. A little dry in the finish, it's an ok ipa. There is a mild pine flavor in the forward to midpalate. I would have it again but there are much better beers out there.

 383 characters

Photo of chadjulius
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

It's golden-brown in color, malty, hoppy to the smell, which are strong in the taste as well. The taste lingers too, but not in a bad way, its just a strong, dominating taste and "mouthfeel." A litter bitter tasting.

While it is a nice tasting beer, I think it would be good to have in moderation, as in follow this IPA up with a different beer. I should add that there seems to be a hint of metallic smell to it.

Oh, and it's 6.2% Alc/Vol

 442 characters

Photo of chumba526
3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appears clear orange with a sizeable white head.

It smells strongly citrus and caramel like and a little floral.

It tastes slightly like orange peel: it is very citrus like. There is a subdued caramel sweetness as well. The taste ends with a nice and refreshing bitter bite.

The carbonation is about medium and is normal for an IPA.

This is a quite drinkable and well balanced, I could drink a few of these.
Over all a nice above average example of an IPA that is fairly reasonably priced.

 493 characters

Photo of indiapaleale
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber, orangish-reddish with a very nice looking pancake-battery head.

Aroma is lots of citurs, lemons and oranges.

Flavor is a little subdued. I am thinking this one sat for a long time before an unsuspecting consumer, me, put it in their mixed six pack holder. Not a lot of hoppiness and the malt seems to have taken over.

This is a prime candidate for a can in my opinion. Their other canned offerings are excellent and the flavor is sealed in very well.

 475 characters

Photo of FreshHawk
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Fairly dark and hazy copper color with a large, thick, creamy, foamy, and sticky head. Pretty good retention with a nice sticky layer of lace left over.

S - Citrus grapefruit and orange pops out along with a lot of pine, floral, and herbal hops. Some pale malt in the background. Some caramel malt as well. Very strong hop hop aroma.

T - Much less fruit hop flavors than in the aroma. Good amount of pine and floral and some herbal hop flavors. Some pale malt in the background. A good amount of bitterness with just a touch of malty sweetness. Definitely more bitter, but not unbalanced. Slight citrus flavor lingers.

M - Medium body with a good amount of carbonation. A bit smooth and a touch of a drying finish.

D - Fairly drinkable beer with a good amount of hop flavors and bitterness. Not totally unbalanced, but a little unbalanced. Pretty refreshing drink though.

Notes: Pretty good beer, but not outstanding. Just seems like a basic IPA. Aroma is pretty strong and fruity while the taste is a bit more bitter and pine/floral taste.

 1,049 characters

Big Sky IPA from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,170 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.