Smuttynose “Big A(ss) IPA”
Big A is a double India Pale Ale that comes ultra-hopped, but also packs a solid malt punch. Aromas are abundant with crystal malt, hints of honey, and fruity alcohol. Hop notes of fresh cut grass, oranges, and fragrant hops. The palate begins with a burst of smooth pale malts and white sugar. Midway it takes on a grilled pineapple character as hop resins build. While still remaining quite sweet, and the malt/hop combo gets chewy and grainy. Hops then take on strong citric tonality, with grapefruit and orange as the main attraction. Pine-flavored hop oils rise to a final crescendo where an aggressively bitter bite reminds you this is an imperial IPA well over 100 IBU’s. It finishes with a tart hop essence, and oils leave a clean, dry feel. Drinkability is poor due to a high sugar content and resinous bitterness.
This is a pretty tasty double, and there are some good hop flavors to entertain you, but it’s not entirely dynamic. Some finer notes seem to get lost in the wash of caramel. Malts and hops are way out of balance, and malt flavors are fairly one-dimensional. At the same time, I wouldn’t expect malt to be able to compete with this bitterness unless this were a barleywine. The high IBU’s will certainly fulfill your hop fix. As far as double IPA’s go, there are others I would probably go for over this. It doesn’t necessarily disappoint, but doesn’t go so far as to impress me either. It’s not bad, but I don’t think it’s worth going out of the way for, particularly if you reside someplace with a great selection of IPA’s.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire