Big Swell IPA | Maui Brewing Co.

very good
411 Reviews
Read the review
Big Swell IPABig Swell IPA

Brewed by:
Maui Brewing Co.
Hawaii, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
50+ IBU

Added by GClarkage on 01-19-2008

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 411 | Ratings: 1,067
Photo of GregSVT
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Writing this from memory since the latest database crash wiped out my review.

A: Poured a hazy light amber with a big tan head that faded to a small layering with a good amount of sticky lacing.

S: Smell was that of hops and tropical fruity aroma. Pineapple, grapefruit, and a slight pine aroma jump out of the glass.

T: The taste was phenomenal. This tasted like many DIPAs I like. Tropical fruits and a small hop bitterness to balance out the sweetness all riding on a big malt backbone.

M: The mouthfeel was thin but creamy from the carbonation. Not drying like a lot of IPAs are...the big malt/fruity flavors are probably why.

D: If I could buy this in TX I would keep it in stock fairly often. Definitely one of the best regular IPAs I have had to date.

Sad I only have one can left. Thanks to SmokingMex for allowing me to try this.

 846 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a sturdy whipped egg white head that leaves a nice ring of lacing

Smell: Resinous, but primarily grapefruit juice; a real smell from the tropics, with pineapple undertones

Taste: Opens with a nice biscuity flavor that qiuckly moves in a sweet and fruity, floral grapefruit direction by mid-palate; the swallow is pure grapefruit with hints of pineapple; rather sweet, but I like it

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Sweetness rules, by golly, and this is one refreshing IPA; very tropical and I wonder if Maui has considered mixing a little coconut into the concoction to make a pina colada IPA to match their Coconut Porter

Thanks, atigerlife, for the opportunity

 741 characters

Photo of jnn4v
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Slightly hazy orange color. Poured with an ample amount of cream-colored foamy head. As it dissipated, even after several minutes a film of larger bubbles remained.

S: Peach / apricot scents followed by orange citrusy sweetness as the dominant traits. Smells very clean and juicy. We're off to a good start here. Minor notes of pine and grapefruit were detectable.

T: Not quite as strong a burst of citrus or fruit flavors in the taste as there are in the nose, but they definitely are there. Orange, and peach for sure. Some minor bitterness in the up front, but more significant bitterness in the aftertaste once the sweetness of the malt begins to fade. Very balanced and enjoyable overall.

M: Very good texture. Nicely carbonated feel, but not overly carbonated as I had feared when I saw the size of the head.

D: With a near perfect balance of flavors and bitterness combined with a reasonable 6.3% ABV, this beer is very drinkable. If it were available locally, I'd be tempted to stock up regularly.

 1,016 characters

Photo of Pencible
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured clear gold with moderate white head. It smelled like pine and grapefruit, with some coconut and honey malt. It tasted like grapefruit and pine hops, with some perfume and light honey malt. It was slightly thick and oily with some carbonation, and had a lasting bitter aftertaste. Overall this was a nice clean IPA that is just tropical enough to fit its origins. Of course, I still prefer even juicier and fruitier flavors (sweeter pineapple, mango, etc.). But this was still fairly tasty, and had good body, and was plenty easy to drink. Nothing special, but enjoyable.

 582 characters

Photo of TonyBrew
3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz can poured into Ommegang tulip from VIP dinner at BCC.

Appearance:Pours like a beautiful golden with a tall white head that quickly dies down and leaves a bit of lacing around, but not the greatest lacing.
Smell: Somewhat spicy with a bit of floral. Some citrus with a caramel candied sweetness.
Taste:Great bitter hoppiness, with lots of pine and a hint of citrus. A grainy finish with the candied caramel sweetness to balance it out. Delicious and crisp!
Mouthfeel: Dry and pretty thin. Coming from a can of course there is a good amount of carbination.
Drinkability: Not the best, but a very nice IPA, especially for in a can. Great to have such nice brews found in cans, especailly for camping, and festivals that won't allow glass. Oskar Blues might have some real competition.

 789 characters

Photo of stoutfiend27
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz can received as an extra from ghengis22 poured into brooklyn tulip

a-off golden color that poured a big three finger rocky head that didnt stick around for long. good lacing not the greatest ive seen but good

s-citrusy pine and fresh cut grass, very floral and a definite malt backbone is detectable..

t-pine and fruity citrusy hops followed by bitter hops and then the malt backbone i knew was there

m-oily and resiny like i like an ipa..nice carbonation feel and this one isnt too thick

d-could have a few of these given the opportunity but for now its just the one...

overall a nice ipa and only my second offering from maui brewing...both have been good i hope this isnt the last i see of them

 709 characters

Photo of vegantreats
4.29/5  rDev +12%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This bear poured with a lot of head which mostly settled after about two minutes. This beer has strong notes of piney hops, tastes of hops, is smooth and very drinkable.
This beer comes in a can, and despite the advantages of being able to drink the beer in "sensitive environments" like the beach or walking down the street since it doesn't look like a beer, I'm not sold on the can idea the company preaches. Aluminum is a toxic metal I try to avoid whenever possible, yet, this beer is quite nice and is one of the rare exceptions to my aluminum free lifestyle.
This beer is silly hoppy, are you a hop head? If so, go for one of these and you will, most likely, find yourself going for another...and another....

 718 characters

Photo of woodychandler
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I had some of this last year while staying with LaiLani in Oxnard, CA but since my notes are with a transcriptionist, I decided to go with the "No Time Like the Present" fall-back position. That and the fact that my CAN-CAN days may be ending simply because I am running out of new beers to review. The next series will be a nautical theme in deference to my standing as a retired enlisted person in Uncle Sugar's Canoe Club aka the US Navy. Stand by!

The wide-mouth can poured like a champ, creating two fingers' worth of French Vanilla-colored head, but with only mild retention. Boo hoo. Color was a cloudy, hazy sunshine yellow. Nose was very piney with hops. My mouth immediately began to water. Mouthfeel was medium with a really hoppy presence on the tongue. My jones started to fade. Damn the pusher man who first turned me onto American IPAs! Bless those who provide me my fix! Feeling like a champ, I swallowed, allowing the hops to just coarse through my veins and quiet that howling freakin' monkey on my back. Ohhh my. Let's just say that I got right off of this and leave it at that. Say, anybody help a brother out with a coupla bucks for some IPA? This Hawaiian shiznit was kinda expensive, you dig? Dang good, though. I'm goin' back for another hit, I mean, CAN.

 1,280 characters

Photo of Newmerator
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

6 pack cans

pours a golden ale color, white fluffy head with little to no lacing.

Smells a very medium bodied hoppy. not too complex. almost smells like a home brew i made.

tastes pretty mellow and well balanced. not enough hops for me

mouthfeel is very light to me. medium to low bodied

drinkability is pretty decent. I'm not longing for another.

a Tasty brew for the beach.


 391 characters

Photo of bboven
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, golden, little head but some lacing.

Lots of hops, a bit of yeast in the nose.

Taste is more bitter hops than flavor hops, but enjoyable.

Surprisingly dry mouthfeel, but nice carbonation.

Definitely enjoyable, one I would get again and I love seeing good beers in cans!

 280 characters

Photo of Genghis22
4.09/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Stamped 04-09-09 on the bottom.

A - Pours a clear bright golden yellow with a big frothy white head.

S - A blast of hops right as I popped open the can. The nose is full of big floral hoppy goodness. There is a touch of something sweet at the end, perhaps pineapple.

T - Smooth mellow malt at first, with a big punch of hops afterwards. Lots of strong piney grassy hops, and dry bittering hops in the finish. The aftertaste has a bit of sweetness to it, again I taste just the faintest little bit of pineapple.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. This one goes down pretty easy though, very crisp and refreshing.

D - Aloha! I could put this baby away all day long. More please!

 691 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a 12oz can into my hotel room glass. Poured golden with a nice white head that leaves some scant lacing. Smells grainy and citrusy with a touch of pine. On the maltier side. Tastes grainy, earthy, piney, and even a bit beefy. Bizarely, it also tastes just a bit salty to me. Finishes with a long bitter ending. Mouthfeel is fairly thick and grainy. Not my favorite IPA, but nice to see more micro cans.

 416 characters

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Who knew that two of the best beers I would have all day would be from cans! This as well as the 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat.
This beer pours a light golden amber in color. A very nice inch or two of head forms on the pour and sticks around for a while. Plenty of hops in the nose. Taste is very balanced and hoppy at the same time. Very good hop profile and very well balanced and put together.
Very easy drinking and quite enjoyable. I could see myself drinking quite a few of these. Perfect for fishing trips in these cans. Well done.

 542 characters

Photo of flexabull
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bright gold color with a nice big white head.

Aromas are spicy with very floral nose. Some light citrus, mango? and some candied sweetness.

Taste is creamy up front, with some light caramel malt sweetness. Beer then settles into the hop flavors, mostly an earthy floral hop bite on the finish. Very fresh, crisp and clean tasting IPA.

Mouthfeel is a little thin, not bad though.

Drinkability is good. This is a very nice IPA, and in my favorite vessel to boot! I'd be more than happy tossing a few of these in my backpack the next time I head up to the mountains.

 575 characters

Photo of BeerManDan
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color when poured was amber with a nice amount of foam that stayed nice and full for awhile. The piney smell of american hops and barley malts were very evident in the aroma of this IPA.

The taste was very mild and tasty for an IPA. Not a lot of piney flavor, but a nice flavor of hops and barley malts without the overpowering bitterness. Again, a pleasant bitterness that is not over powering. I just love this IPA in a can. At the brewery, you can only purchase this IPA in a can or on tap!

 498 characters

Photo of illidurit
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Can poured into a pint glass. Golden amber color, good clarity, nice off-white cap of foam. Aroma is orange and grapefruit hoppiness, with a little pine and a little neutral malt. Flavor is rather muted. Tastes like a 'diet IPA.' The orangey tropical hops are there, and the pine is there, and the pale malt is there, but there's no robustness. Watery, a little soapy, and with low bitterness. Above average but not a great IPA by any means.

 441 characters

Photo of surfer4life
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz can.

A - Pours a transparent golden with a huge fluffy white head which recedes to a small layer of foam that hung around a while, good lacing.

S - While there is the scent of hops in the nose, the caramely malt comes through big time. Even some hints of citrus fruits, not the typical grapefruit though...even some apple.

T - Wonderful balance on this one, proves to be hoppier than was detected in the nose. Front as nice sweetness. Getting some caramel and apples in this big time. Finish is nice and hoppy not overpowering at all, but what you would expect from a well balanced IPA.

M - The body is medium with a medium carbonation, excellent drying.

D - I would say this could quite possibly be my perfect session beer, comes in the can, perfect balance and 6%. A sixer would do it. Great beer.

 843 characters

Photo of aforbes10
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sixer of nice looking cans from the Davis, CA Co-Op. Pours a nice orange yellow with perfect clarity and a tall white head that falls off relatively fast. Sticky remnants of head cling to the glass, and the beer produces a good amount of bubbles rising throughout. Mix of floral and citrus hops on the nose, as well a good, obvious sweet malt presence. Flavor has a lot of hop taste, definitely more of a citrus character here. Malt backbone backs it up and makes it sweet and caramel-like. Bitterness on the finish is obvious but still reserved enough not to dominate the flavor. medium bodied. A nice drinker, I love that it's another great craft beer that i can get in cans.

 677 characters

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours out a hazy, orange-gold color. Loose, fluffy, off-white head sits on top and drags nice web-like lacing. Nice retention to boot.

Smell: Sweet citric hops, caramel, mild pine, and some butterscotch? Yep, butterscotch. Toasted malt in the beginning, caramel, and possibly even nuts in the back. Smells tasty and quite sweet.

Taste: Juicy pineapple, orange, and grapefruit along with some honeydew melon. Tangy. Good deal of bitter hops, but they're balanced nicely by caramel and toasted malt. Some spice, dusty pine, and honeysuckle as well. Nicely done.

Mouthfeel: Spicy and actively carbonated. Creamy, medium bodied, very well balanced, and just... fun. Crisp, with a long lasting aftertaste. Very smooth and enjoyable.

Drinkability: Hell yes! This is a great summertime IPA.

Nick: =4.4
Justin: =3.925
Average: =4.1625

Wiseman Justin reviwing on May 9, 2010; poured into a nonic pint glass. Reviews were averaged.

Appearance: Looks like some delicious beer. Pours out a thick two finger head that doesn't hang around all that much. Fluffy lacing sticks tot he glass. Cloudy honey colored beer that is spot on for the style. 4.5

Smell: I'm getting something sweet although it is too mild to identify. Slight citrus. This is either weak or boring. I've been hit in the nose before with an IPA. This beer does not do that. 3.0

Taste: I get some caramel ? The citrus is definitely there. A strong malt component rounds the beer out at the end. This IPA is very light and tasty. It's called "Big Swell" but it's not big at all. It's great and light. This beer would pair well with many foods. I get a strong oak finish. Very good! 4.0

Mouthfeel: Not as chewy as I like in this style, it's got some 'chew' but nothing to talk about. For a pale ale this is perfect. For an IPA I want something a little more. 3.75

Drinkability: How can I complain about this light, wonderful tasting, very drinkable beer? 4.5

 1,959 characters

Photo of ckeegan04
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Cloudy golden yellow with a big foamy head. Excellent retention and lacing. Very active carbonation bubbles quickly rising to the top.

S - Citrusy aroma dominates, lots of hops. A light candied fruit sweetness underneath. No noticeable malt mixed in.

T - Light sweetness initially before a very strong, but not overwhelming citrus hoppiness comes through. Excellent mix of grapefruit and tangerine dominate. Light biscuity sweetness underneath. Mildly astringent.

M/D - Medium bodied with a light chewiness. Well carbonated, almost too much so. Easy drinking.

 566 characters

Photo of Eggolas
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The key to the Big Swell IPA was how it paired with the Mahimahi Fish and Chips (Hula Grill - Kaanapali). I like to sprinkle my F & C with malt vinegar and needed a beer to stand up to that without ruining the meal.

Big Swell IPA performed great. The golden brown color was attractive. The citrus smell was pleasant (considering the malt vinegar was coming off the fish and chips) and the extra alcohol finish of the beer cut through the maltiness of the meal.

I especially liked the mouthfeel of the beer as it washed down the mahimahi.

I tried it again a couple of nights later without the malt vinegar on the fish and chips and it worked just as well, which leads me to believe that the beer just works well with fried food.

 731 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.16/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this in the recent Secret Bunny BIF - thanks Kevin (mymrnngjckt)! Served in my Surly pint glass.

Biases - I love beer from a can, Lahaina, and baseball (it's Opening Day), so I may be a little manic today.

A - Two fingers of frothy white foam that takes forever to dissipate and leaves tons of soapy lacing. Hazed glowing golden color with a few tiny bubbles. Among the best looking IPAs I've seen (and I've seen a lot).

S - I was worried this might be old as it came all the way from Maui somehow, but after one whiff my fears where quelled. Loads of tangy bitter citrus (lemon, grapefruit) with some pine as well, over top of some light biscuity malt. Very refreshing!

T - The taste is a bit more subdued - lots of pine and floral hoppiness with a hint of lemon zest. There's a fair bit of bread and biscuit maltiness as well. Very balanced - I'm guessing it has a little bit of age on it (1-2 months) - but it's still quite nice. I'd have scored it higher if I'd been told it was an English IPA. Very mild bitterness in the aftertaste.

M - Medium bodied, and very creamy and smooth. I don't think I've ever said this before for an IPA, but it's actually kind of undercarbonated - a little bit syrupy. Lots of residual oily hop resin.

D - This will be my session beer if I ever get back to Hawaii. Just a really solid IPA - nice flavor, feel, aftertaste. I definitely feel warmer after drinking it.

 1,410 characters

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

The beer poured a cloudy dark colored straw. Held up to the light, I see a swirling sediment almost like a hefe. Stark white head hung around a little while and fell to a tall collar and splotchy coat.

Caramel malt, biscuit malt and citrus hops up front. Deeper whiffs bring a more complex citrus hop profile with tangerine, grapefruit, and orange rind.

Sweet caramel malt first, which is followed by orange peel with a bit pith as well. The middle brings a moderate amount of bitter grapefruit. The finish is a lingering light to moderate bitterness combined with a syrupy sweetness.

A bit watery with a light body and very light carbonation. Very wetting on the palate.

I could easily drink a few of these but there are better IPAs

Thanks for Reading

 759 characters

Photo of natasharai
4.07/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured with some nice frothy off white head that dissipated leaving some lacing at the top of my glass. The beer is a yellowish-golden hazy color.

Smell: flowery, citrus, spicy earthy, sweet caramel and a small amount of alcohol.

Taste: Flowery, citrus orange, sweet caramel, small malt, finishing with a small amount of alcohol and bitterness accompanied by the flowery taste.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, smooth tingle on the tongue, leaves mouth slightly alcoholy then turns into a sweet coating.

Overall: Decent drinkability, the alcohol at the end makes it a bit less than perfect. Good hop character, provides flavors that are different from other AIPAs. Strong flowery hop presence which provides a bit more spicy smell/flavor to this beer.

 763 characters

Photo of schoolboy
4.17/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Truth in advertising. The can says, "Big, Hoppy, Bold, SMooth and Hoppy." It's that. The hoppy isn't over the top on the taste (it's huge, just not over rthe top), but the hops aftertaste is one of the strongest and best.

I think I can undoubtably say that this is the best beer I have ever had in a can. It's one of my favorite styles, and they pull it off. I am not sold that this wouldn't taste better in a bottle, but if it were sold that way I'll bet you couldn't tell in a blind taste test.

I think the hops could also disguise more malt. They should try another heavier version.

This wins as my favorite Hawaiian beer. My trip to Hawaii is going to be short, but I will do what I can to drink a bunch of this while I am here. I have a few others to sample, but I am pretty sure none will beat this. That isn't to say that the other HAwaiian beer has been bad. It's not at all bad. If a state as small as Hawaii can brew beer this good, why can't the entire huge country of Mexico produce any decent beer.

 1,016 characters

Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,067 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.