Big Swell IPA | Maui Brewing Co.

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very good
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Big Swell IPABig Swell IPA

Brewed by:
Maui Brewing Co.
Hawaii, United States | website

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
50+ IBU

Added by GClarkage on 01-19-2008

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Reviews: 400 | Ratings: 1,019
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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Photo of beergoot
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Solid gold color with lively carbonation and a thick, frothy white head. Floral and citrus hop aroma hits you right off and then slowly fades with a more pronounced malt nose. Big hop bitterness dominates the flavor and aftertaste; slightly juicy with a light malt character. Medium bodied, crisp, clean and dry finish.

A big hop bitterness is the highlight of this IPA. Not much of an overt malt presence in the taste, but there is enough to keep the hop bitterness from completely running away with things. Zesty and delicious.

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Photo of Tsekouratos
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sparkling orange color with a white head that left lacings on the glass. Aromas of pine, citrus and tropical fruits at first. The taste was pretty much the same, more intense with bitter orange and maybe lemon. Holding the sip in the mouth for a couple of seconds added a nice sweetness to second the hops. The aftertaste was long and dry and very pleasant. The body was light to medium and the carbonation was medium, maybe the only disadvantage. A very nice beer!!

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

Pours a cloudy, maize color. 1/3 inch head of a white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of hops, sweet malt, earthy malt, slight fruit, and a hint of pine. Fits the style of an American IPA. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of strong hops, slight pine, slight hop oil, earthy malt, and slight fruit. Overall, good appearance and body, but too much earthy malt for my taste.

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

A - An orange-tinged gold with a decent looking white foamin' head.

S - A healthy dose of citrus and hops.

T - Not as aggressive as I'd feared, although I was gagging slightly by the end of my pint (poured 2 cans into a glass). Robustly hoppy, with refreshing grapefruit segments. Got really bitter for me on the aftertaste towards the end.

M - Pretty nicely balanced, seemed to keep up with the tongue.

O - IPAs really aren't my thing, but I'm trying to change that which is why I went for the Big Swell. I was pleased not to be overwhelmed by the bitterness, and I always appreciate a nice grapefuity edge. Perhaps this style is starting to grow on me.

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Photo of ADZA
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another can offering and pours a clear golden hue with the fluffiest three finger billowing head and tight lacing everywhere,the smell is pineapple,guava,boiled candy and a slight touch of piney citrus,the mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation and has tastes of piney citrus bitter hops first up followed by the briefest cameo of caramel malts and finished with a solid grapefruit bitterness and overall it's a solid IPA that's all about the hops but its nothing stand outish either cheers.

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Photo of Hendry
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Cloudy amber with a 2 finger off white head,decent lacing.

Aroma is mostly candied citrus with sweet malts dominating the mix.

Flavor is malty like the nose,some hopiness trying to break through with little success.

Medium moutfeel,grainy from the high malt content,not overly dry in the finish.

Another beer promising a huge amount of hops, yet the malts override: meh!

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Canned on date of 04/10/13

Appearance - Pours a fairly clear golden orange with a white, frothy 2 finger head. Retention is decent, and leaves a thin film of microbubbles across the surface. Spotty lacing with good stick.

Smell - More malty than one would expect; biscuit and touches of caramel met by mellow, tropical hop notes. Mild pineapple and orange.

Taste - Malty upfront. Aforementioned biscuit is also found in the flavor, along with hints of caramel. Mild earth and tropical fruitiness... and then the Hops really kick in(!) about mid-taste, really driving this thing home with an ever-strengthening grapefruit pith bitterness that extends into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body with low to moderate carbonation. Smooth and drinkable. Slightly slick.

Overall - Good thing this beer didn't suck, because with a name like Big Swell, it's got 'Big Swill' nickname potential written all over it. Jokes aside, it's a fairly good IPA, but it is this reviewer's opinion that for $10-12 bucks per sixer, there are better IPA's out there for much better value.

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Photo of Moose90
4.06/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Canned 030413
Tasted 061713

A – Pours a somewhat hazy light orange color with a good sized fizzy white head. Fades quickly but leaves a nice thin coating and laces down the inside of the glass.

S – Lots of pineapple on this one, some mango as well, not very citrusy, get more tropical fruit notes, papaya as well. A little bit of pine is present. Nicely sweet.

T – More citrus comes through on this front, some grapefruit notes mostly. Nicely bitter overall, leaves you wanting to come back for more. Nice sweet notes of pineapple and light caramel malts.

M – Perfectly medium bodied with a finish that is astringent yet nice.

O – Not bad at all, nicely balanced, simple and approachable. The flavors here are great, and this tends towards the juicier side of the IPA spectrum. Very nice.

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Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,019 ratings.
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