I only got a case out of 30 that made it into Virginia, and it didn’t even get bottled last year, so I figured I should check out and review Smuttynose Big A IPA. Big A is a Double IPA that comes out of the Smuttynose brewery in New Hampshire. This is a first for me; I missed out on last year and haven’t tried it before.
The first thing I notice is that it pours a color-fade, going from a golden yellow near the bottom of my glass to a bright orange with a hint of red near the solid head. It definitely smells hoppy–not a given with big IPA’s or DIPA’s. Smells like green herbal hops, with a lot of grapefruit in the nose.
Big A comes on strong with a ton of citrusy hop flavor, with a hard alpha-acid hit. The finish comes with a hint of malt and a more subtle citrus note. The first impression is of a beer that is all front palate and finish; you get the hit at the top and you get a long finish, but the middle is a very crisp, concise beer. But in truth there is so much more. The finish blooms like a flower (watched in fast-forward) in stages that go from the initial malt hit to a lighter citrus note with a ‘feel’ of bitterness. Not that it’s bitter all the way through, because it’s not, but that you feel it all the way. It is simply ‘there’, what ever ‘it’ is. It’s a long fade into a very green, earthy hop aftertaste.
Some may try out the Big A and say it’s just another example of a over-the-top, unnecessary DIPA. The thing is, that’s the style–double IPA’s are crazy big and hoppy and you have to have a certain personality and taste to really get into them. For what it’s worth, I think the Big A is a very smooth DIPA. Not smooth in flavor, but smooth like Lando when he met Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back. This beer is what it is without pretense or self-consciousness. If you love or think you love big, hoppy beers, try one out if you can find it.