Wednesday, November 17, 2010

IPA Can Clash — Caldera vs. Maui Brewing Co.

Caldera IPA

ABV 6.1%

Dark reddish orange.
Malt, moist ground funk, pine sap and caramel.
Citrus peel hops, toffee, soap.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Intense and long lasting bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):

Maui Brewing Co.
Big Swell IPA

ABV 6.2%

Light orangish yellow.
Aroma: Powerful floral and citrus.
Flavor: Sweet flowers, honey, cedar, citrus.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Mellow citrus and sharp acidity.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good

Blow by Blow
There is no shortage of IPA in the Northwest. However, your options are a bit more limited if you are looking for IPA in a can. This Can Clash features two imported (to the Seattle area) IPAs, one hailing from Southern Oregon and one from Hawaii. We popped them open on a brisk November evening to find out which one was best.

The Maui came out strong with an extremely intense aroma that packed a powerful punch. The Caldera was more subdued in the aroma but made up for it with a huge dose of hoppy bitterness in the finish. In a way, the beers were kind of mirror images of each other, with the Big Swell starting strong then slowly fading and the Caldera starting subtle and slowly building — two different approaches that both deliver the hops but in completely different ways.

In the end, both beers were still standing and both were confidently gesturing to the crowd as if they'd won. Turns out they both were wrong as the results revealed that it was a split decision. I preferred the wonderful aroma and sweet, citrusy flavors of the Big Swell while Ellen was drawn to the big, bitter finish and caramel notes of the Caldera. Neither quite reached the heights that some Northwest IPAs attain but both are well worth the space in your backpack should you need some liquid refreshment on your next hike.

Split decision: l chose the Maui while Ellen preferred the Caldera.


  1. I think the Maui gets my vote, but only with a slight lead.....