Maui ‘Big Swell’ IPA

Maui 'Big Swell' IPA
Maui 'Big Swell' IPA

And then, a few days later, something rather similar — which makes a certain amount of sense in that my Monday was spent dealing with the same nonsense that lead to the unexpected Saturday night off. But it all worked out alright, and was fun in its own peculiar way, and so I cracked open one of these to celebrate.

Plus, here we are with another canned beer. I gave some of my thoughts on them — and on the spelling of Aluminum (no second i) — in my recent Diary entry on the same brewery’s Coconut Porter. That rant (the canned-beer one, not the Aluminum one so much) was prompted by comments made by local beer writer Neil Miller, and this was his Birthday. Perfect.

So soon after the Ballast Point ‘Big Eye’, it was nice to have another big-but-balanced American pale ale. The tagline on the can uses the word “hoppy” for thirty percent of its text, but the beer serves as a nice reminder that hoppiness isn’t exactly the same as bitterness, closely related though they are. It manifests here with all those wonderful classic American pale ale flavours of citrus fruit and fresh, resiny pine — but they’re all just a little more relaxed than they often are. Not tired, like a bad import or anything lacking in freshness, just relaxed. Imagine something already-delicious like Hallertau’s ‘Maximus’ finally escaping the clamour of Auckland,1 getting itself a beach holiday and just chilling right the fuck out. Rather fitting, really, given its Hawaiian origins.

And damn, they aren’t kidding when they say smooth, either; it’s peachy, hazy golden colour, pillowy soft, excitable bubbles and luxuriously lush feel all put me in mind of Golden Bear’s ‘Bear Trappe’ though the two beers otherwise come from quite different backgrounds and styles. As I said on the Twitterthing when I bought this and the porter, anyone who wants to say there’s no such thing as good canned beer should have to do so to the Maui Brewing Company’s face — and to 21st Amendment, and to BrewDog, and… You get the idea.

Addendum: And then, the day after I posted this, Neil presented a somewhat-more-nuanced position on Twitter:

My definite preference is for beer in bottles but cans have their place. What is in the vessel is ultimately the most important. Some cheap cans can taste a bit metallic but a good can is fine – Big Swell IPA being the perfect example.

Though there’s still an under-current of anti-can sentiment in there — why else the definite preference? — I totally agree with the idea that it’s the beer that counts most. On that, given the inner (non-metal) lining of the sorts of cans usually used, metallic tastes are much more likely to be a brewing fault than attributable to the cans (a point covered, ironically, in the recent New Zealand TV programme for which Neil was a Talking Head). Still, it’s nice to know the fairly-strident lines he delivered in his ‘Beer 101’ tasting session — overhearing bits of which while clearing glasses was what initially freaked me out — don’t quite match up with his considered views on the matter.

Verbatim: Maul Brewing Co. ‘Big Swell’ IPA 18/4/11 355ml can $10 @ NWT 6.2% Reward for a weirdly enjoyable return to lawyering today. Really pretty hazy peachy gold, big fluffy white head. Soft nose of fruit + piney oily sides. Not big and bitter and punchy, still soft and smooth. Lush. The bubbles are totally reminiscent of Bear Trappe’s. And hey, it’s Neil Miller’s birthday, so a good canned beer is apt. It’s like Maximus went on a beach holiday + chilled out.

Maui 'Big Swell' IPA, tagline
Maui 'Big Swell' IPA, tagline
Maui Brewing Co. 'Big Swell' IPA
Diary II entry #93, Maui Brewing Co. 'Big Swell' IPA

1: Well, not that Hallertau live in the clamourous part of Auckland. Or really Auckland at all, as such. They’re clever enough to be a twenty-minute blat up the motorway out of town. But you know what I mean.

Have at it: