One of my favorite beers in the world is the Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company. In a related note, the 18th beer in the Smuttynose Short Batch series is Durty, a "hoppy imperial brown ale" released in mid-December by the Portsmouth, N.H. brewery.
The brewery describes the limited-release beer as follows:
There’s no denying that IPA is king of the craft beer world right now. The style is getting so popular that even the big brewers are attempting their own versions, while IPA sub-styles, like session IPA, double IPA, white IPA and black IPA, continue to be created and defined. Brown IPAs combines the caramel and nutty-biscuity flavors of a brown ale, with a strong dose of American IPA character. Pretty straight forward, but very delicious.
Durty is a big beer of 8.4 percent alcohol by volume and 55 IBUs. It pours an intimidating, opaque chestnut with an off-white head. It smells like an IPA -- Simcoe hops used post-fermentation form a clean, pine-like nose.
Take a sip and swirl the beer in your mouth and you almost taste two beers here. On one hand, roasted malt, toast, coffee, and caramel come together in what could pass for a traditional brown ale. It tastes a little like Old Brown Dog, another Smuttynose offering, but there's more chocolate and dark malt here.
On the other hand you have the hops. Polaris (a new German high alpha variety for bittering) and Nugget hops are used in the brewing process. The beer tastes more bitter than 55 IBUs might indicate, and it's not an easy sipper. Lacing sticks to the side of the glass as I drink this beer down. The beer was made once -- only 828 bottles were produced -- and retails for about $9. I'm always up for a new take on the IPA, and this is a very good one.