Big Swell IPA | Maui Brewing Co.

very good
408 Reviews
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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:
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Reviews: 408 | Ratings: 1,060
Photo of Gmann
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy golden color with a tight creamy head that left a small wall of lacing on the glass.

The nose is a mix of citrus and tropical fruit. Main aroma is grapefruit with subtle notes of pineapple and apricot. A bit peppery as well.

The taste is more tropical. Bigger pineapple presence. The grapefruit is still big but shares with some resin/pine. Apricot and pepper round out the hop profile. The malt is hefty enough to support the aggressive hops.

The feel is moderate with prickly carbonation. Big hoppy bitterness on the palate with some sweetness to try to balance.

An old school west (far west) coast IPA. Big piney bitter notes. It's good but I like to see more brightness.

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Photo of Bunman3
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I grabbed a six of this at Costco in Kahului for a very reasonable price. Big Swell is an extremely agreeable IPA - not earth-shaking like the waves at Ho'Okipa, but definitely akin to life on Maui. Everything is well and good when the weather is perfect and you have a nice IPA in hand. Light in colour, easy on the malt, with a bit of pine and grapefruit joining the party. When in Hawaii, why not?

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Photo of HiWire
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky butterscotch. 1 finger head minor lacing retention. Not a ton to the nose, Citrusy. Tastes mildy hoppy, tea leaf, minimal citrus. Drinks a little light after sipping with good carbonation.

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Photo of pkalix
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

canned on 7/26, almost four months ago.... not bad flavor although not glaringly superstar status, either. basic, standard IPA with medium bitterness, slightly higher than average sweetness. dark, dehydrated urine color with a short-lived creamy, opaque head.... leaves some sticky lacing. decent....

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Photo of ordybill
4.59/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 OZ can into a pint glass. This beer is a clear golden yellow with a small white head. The aroma is full of hops. The taste is hop driven. A really good ipa.

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Photo of Roguer
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Straw yellow clear brew, topped by a sizable frothy white head. Good retention.

Hoppy, juicy aroma, primarily pine and grapefruit. There's a touch of caramel malt lingering in the background.

Flavor follows: it's a fairly standard American IPA, although there is also a dank, herbal quality to the hops, along with a touch of tropical juice, to go along with pine and grapefruit.

Lively and smooth; medium-light bodied.

This is a very solid IPA. The can I'm reviewing is over two months old, and yet shows no sign of detrimental staleness. I would gladly order this on tap in Hawai'i.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.74/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Type: 12-oz. can
Glass: Hotel glass
From: An ABC store in Honolulu, Hawaii
Price: $2.29
Purchased: Oct. 10, 2015
Consumed: Oct. 10, 2015
Misc.: Canned on Aug. 19, 2015

Poured a golden, pale, clear color with 3-to-4 fingers of off-white, frothy head. Good deal of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. Excellent layered foamy lacing on the sides. Very good-to-excellent retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled grapefruit, pine, tropical, Citra, caramel, faint coconut, light pineapple and earthy Citra rind. Something slightly off. (Smell - 3.75)

Taste followed the nose nicely. Got bitter grapefruit juice, grapefruit pulp, tropical rind, pineapple, Citra, pine, dry-hopped and boozy alcohol. (Taste - 3.75)

Light body. Oily texture. Average carbonation. Bitter, boozy finish. (Feel - 3.50)

A bit disappointed in this one overall. This could’ve been a lot better. (Overall - 3.75)

3.74 | 84 | B

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Photo of FLima
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Amber copper color with a thick off-white head with great retention and leaving laces.
Light, but delicious aroma with notes of passion fruit that switch to pine, some toasted and caramel malts, biscuit, guava and melon.
Flavor with notes of grapefruit, guava, spices, toasted malts, pine resin, caramels, tea bags and pineapple. Dry aftertaste with a long lasting bitterness.
Medium body with appropriate carbonation.
Assertive resiny and spicy American IPA with enough hops to entertain any hophead.

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Photo of TheWolf
3.15/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hazy copper. Very good head retention and lacing. Smells like an adjunct lager with grapefruit and pine. Light on hops for an iPa. Not much malt presence either. Light fizzy carbonation with Little body.

It's hard to complain when you're in Maui but ...

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Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.39/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I'd have to generally concur with the Alström assessment that this is a somewhat shallow IPA lacking in uniqueness or dimension (though I think 2.85/5 is a bit too harsh). Another reviewer notes there's "[n]othing wrong with it", and that's apt, too. It's solid; it's entirely drinkable—but not especially sessionable, owning largely to its straightforward nature and lack of variegated textures; and it's snug and plum-fitted into the "Hopgun Blast" genre, with little else to distinguish it (save an appeal to the novelty of craft-canning, which isn't so novel anymore, along with its Hawaiian provenance).

The biggest swell from Big Swell is actually its head, however: luscious foam attends the pour, and it precipitates intricate and robust lacing as that head recedes to a solid quarter-inch crown. The ale itself is a very nice flaxen-brown—almost, indeed, the color of golden flax-seed—with a very nice center-column of churning carbonation. Unfortunately, the highly visible bubbling doesn't translate to a very buoyant mouthfeel, with this IPA being a bit mired in sticky, resinous bitters—a real downer, and something that might have salvaged the heavy-handed hopping approach. The single, heavy wave of flavor features a bit of grapefruit pith, a lot of juicy pine, and a pretty hefty herbal-bitter finish, glued together by a slightly astringent sugary-malt base. Aside from the visual aspects, the nose is the nicest attribute: a lot more tropicality (which is what I would have expected from a Maui-produced IPA), with guava and especially watermelon being the predominant top-notes cresting on the sea of citric grassiness.

It's really not bad, but it's really and decidedly less-than-great; a six-pack I have no qualms about having bought, but have no definitive plans to buy again.

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Photo of tubeyes
3.89/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A Lots of lace and light head
S lots of flavorful hops
T burst of hoppy flavor, pineapple, delicious
M nice easily drinkable beer, nice mouth feel
O really enjoyed, great IPA

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Photo of FundumpClyde
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a keg (first one in Canada in Calgary). Solid beer with interesting mango aftertaste. Good IPA. Nothing wrong with it, but not mind-blowing in any way.

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Photo of Kelz87
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12 oz can into imperial pint glass. I'm assuming it's not super fresh since I'm not on Maui, but well within date since im on the neighboring island of Oahu. Update: it was canned 6-17-15

L- pours a semi-hazy yellow-orange color with about 2 fingers of white, sudsy, semi- sticky head. Very mild, inconsistent amount of lacing on the glass as the beer depletes.

A- a huge tropical nose (pineapple/mango) with some sweet malty caramel notes.

T- very deceptive taste! Lots of grapefruit, grass and some pine upfront. The pine and some grapefruit start to fade once the palate is coated opening up some more floral notes. The floral really stands out after the beer warms up a little if you can endure the initial harsh bitterness.

M- very well carbonated, average to thin mouthfeel.

O- this one kind of surprised me. I hated it the first time I had it months ago, but since I'm throwing it in as an extra in a trade I got one for myself and I'm glad I did. I used to think it was an IPA that lacked any flavor and just punched you in the mouth with bitterness, but after drinking again as my palate has developed I can see this one has some stuff going for it. Not a great beer, but not bad either. If you ever make it out here to the islands it's worth the try, just be ready for the bitterness.

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Photo of tigg924
2.99/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Pours clear, gold, with 1/4 inch head and moderate carbonation. Taste is grain, with big citrus and light piney hops. Decent American IPA, that falls slightly on the bitter side. Not a bad beer, but one that falls about average in the IPAs that I have had.

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Photo of sfnagle
3.47/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The look, feel and taste are reminiscent of any bland American lager. The smell makes up for some it, as does the bitters. But in the end the beer really lacks any complexity. A local favorite for sure, but it has room to grow.

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Can poured into a mason jar style Lagunitas mug. A bright sparkling yellow-orange hue with five fingers of thick, milky white head that recalls meringue. Head shows a sturdy resilience and leaves nice concentric rings down the glass. Points for visual appeal.

Aroma is a tad deceptive ... Very mellow, peppy but not harsh, recalls fresh oranges and whiffs of grapefruit, lemon, and pine. Smells sweet yet herbal. The taste is rather ... Divergent. A brutal onslaught of pine needles, black pepper, lemongrass, dead leaves, herbal liqueur, old teabag, dried bitter grapefruit/orange rinds, with little in the way of tropical or otherwise sweet fruity character. Whoa. Uber-drying, tannic, resinous, and perhaps coarse. This is not the deft strokes of a paintbrush, this is throwing a whole can on the ceiling. There's a slight nutty caramel malt note buried underneath the brush pile. Admittedly, things get more nuanced once one acclimatizes to the bitterness ... More citrus becomes apparent along with a melon and gummy candy sweetness. Alas, it is nigh impossible to completely escape the medicinal finish. A solid middleweight in terms of body, with carbonation on the high end.

This beer has some great attributes. It takes some work to appreciate these, however. They did indeed mention hoppy. Might be a bit much for the haoles.

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Photo of thebrood1987
4.25/5  rDev +11%

It has an obvious smell of pine and grapefruit with a sweet malt character as it warms. You get the pine right up front and then the grapefruit and sweet malt combine to eventually end with a bitter grapefruit pine on the back of the tongue. Its a very straightforward beer that has an obvious good quality to it. A definite west coast ipa and a damn good one at that!

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Photo of metter98
3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is clear amber yellow in color and has a slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high off white head that died down, leaving a thin collar around the edge of the glass and thick lacing down the sides.
S: Light to moderate aromas of grapefruit hops are present in the nose along with some hints of caramel malts.
T: As in the smell, the taste has flavors of orange citrus along with notes of grapefruit and underlying hints of caramels malts. The hops also contribute a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels just about medium-bodied and somewhat crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink. Although nothing really stands out among the aromas or flavors, it could make for a good choice for someone that does not want something that is that bitter.

Serving type: can

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Photo of jj139
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

12 can poured into pint glass

A - orangeish/golden color with a two finger eggshell head.

S - Shy nose of caramel malt and grapefruit & citrus

T - Right at first you get a nice refreshing taste of citrus followed by a very aggressive hop assault. Long and very bitter aftertaste.

M - Medium body with just about the same in carbonation

O - While a decent IPA, I prefer ones with more balance in them. I wouldn't refuse one if given but would not be buying this again.

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Photo of reebtaerG
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had on draft at Lures

A-Pours clear orangish light golden with thin lacy white head.

S-Aroma is lightly sweet oaky caramel malt with earthy aromatic fruit hops.

T-Taste is chewy dark caramel malt with clean crisp tropical hop finish, earthy grassy notes.

M-Mouthfeel has a medium body with good carbonation.

O-Overall another good example of an IPA

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Photo of heygeebee
3.46/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

An odd one, looks the absolute biz with the puffy pillow head, then the smell is all sweet sweet lychees and apricots with floral hops in the mix. Taste is sweetish and in vein of smell. Hops are not overpowering. Not bitter at all. But the real oddity is the mouthfeel, soooo creamy and light, almost like nitro out of a can.

Sweetness kills it tho :-( and not an easy finish of a can....

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Photo of Rob23
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a half inch head that slowly goes away.Smells like a west coast IPA for sure.First taste is piney,hoppy and bitey(yes I made that up).Mouthfeel and overall taste is pretty solid.I actually expected less from this brewery since i have visited them and had a bad experience there.This is actually a good IPA.My only complaint is that it could be a bit sweeter since it is from Hawaii.

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Photo of Hibernator
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Big Swell IPA
12 oz can
Canned 011514 in jet ink on the bottom of the can
Served in an 8 oz hotel glass

I picked up a 6 pack of Big Swell IPA on the way back from an ATV tour at Kipu Ranch earlier today. After being in the sun for the past few hours, this IPA is quite refreshing.

Pours a hazy and golden light orange with a fluffy white head. Awesome trails of sticky lace form on the side of the glassware.

After my first whiff I detect a floral and hoppy nose with some maltiness in the background.

There is a caramel malt backbone with some sugary sweetness. The finish provides a nice hop profile with flavors of oranges and limes. A solid IPA with an unsuspecting ABV level of 6.8%.

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Photo of BierJager89
4.24/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours an opaque straw color with a short white head that fades slowly to a few big bubbles.

S: A bit of malt, a lot of orange, fruity ale esters, grapefruit peel and honey tangerine in a slightly dull nose.

T: Taste is quite a bit sharper with lots of grapefruit peel up front, orange and orange rind over a light malt backbone, turning into honey tangerine and orange zest in a nectary, sweet, fruity finish. Out of the can, it's a bit quicker transition with a lingering sweetness in the finish.

M: Medium bodied with less than average carbonation for an IPA.

O: I really liked this beer. It's very citrus-forward, and I like the specifically honey tangerine taste and scent it has. I love regular tangerine, but honey tangerine is even better to me. Body is nice and smooth for an IPA, too, which is always a plus for me. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of jtierney89
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slightly hazed orange glow with tight bright white head that's about two fingers high.
Super floral nose and super resinous as well. Lots of bitter citric fruit rinds. Quite a pungent nose.
The flavor is a hop assault. All of what's on the nose comes through on the palate from front to back. Bitter citric rind all the way with a bit of sweet biscuity malt beneath but in no way is this brew balanced. Slightly slick finish with really clean bitterness. Brisk and bitter. I like it but the price is outrageous.
On the lighter side of medium bodied. Lots of deep hidden hop flavors. Oranges grapefruit and citrus very floral with hints of pine as well.

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Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,060 ratings.
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