Muskoka Brewery – Mad Tom IPA

Hello! It’s been quite a while since I’ve made time to write a new entry here, but as usual there has been no shortage of new beers that I’ve enjoyed in that time. I was finally inspired enough to sit down for a moment to write down my thoughts on Muskoka Mad Tom IPA. The inspiration comes from the fact that Muskoka Mad Tom is the very first (to my knowledge) proper American West Coast IPA to be brewed, AND bottled, AND sold as a regular offering at The Beer Store and LCBO by a local Ontario brewery. Quite simply, the only regularly available homegrown American IPA in Ontario. And it is probably my favorite beer style overall 🙂

There have been many one-off kegs and casks, and sometimes bottles of American IPAs and the like available around Toronto for some time now (good ones too), but no brewery (except for Flying Monkeys, more on that later), for the lack of a better term, has had the balls to add it to their regular lineup of beers. Muskoka to the rescue.

NOTE: Flying Monkeys brewery is currently in the process of releasing their version of an American IPA called Smashbomb Atomic IPA. It has been delayed due to Social Responsibility rejecting the name and artwork. Read more here: http://service.lcbo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/909/~/flying-monkeys-smashbomb-atomic-ipa-beer-in-lcbo-stores%3F and here: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/WeirdNews/2011/04/04/17866866.html and everywhere else. The good news is that it’s coming, eventually.

I have previously written about American IPAs when I reviewed Double Simcoe IPA over here: https://brewbelly.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/double-simcoe-ipa-weyerbacher/ so I won’t go into great detail here about what the style consists of. I’ll just say that it’s a hop forward beer that focuses on showcasing american hop varieties, but also contains a solid malt backbone.

Muskoka Mad Tom IPA

Mad Tom IPA pours a clear light copper with a decent couple inches of head. The head eventually recedes to a thin film that laces very well. Mad Tom is dry-hopped with Chinook and Centennial hops and the proof is in the aroma. The aroma is very fresh and packed with citrus, pine and some sweet malts. It isn’t quite as potent as some of it’s American counterparts that I’ve tried, but it’s still excellent and very inviting.

After enjoying the aroma, but noticing it was possibly a little on the subtler side of the style, I assumed the flavor might be similar. Wrong. The flavor is where this beer really shines. This is seriously a proper American IPA. The flavor is a fantastic punch of grapefruit and pine, with a solid malt backbone and nice lingering bitterness. Awesome. I’m going to be buying a lot more of this for the foreseeable future.

The carbonation is solid and just right for me, and the mouthfeel has a nice silky, hop resiny feel. Also awesome.

Needless to say I’m a very big fan of Muskoka Mad Tom IPA. I’m still going to buy my share of Southern Tier IPA while supplies last at the LCBO, as it’s the best American IPA available in Ontario currently. But I’m also going to keep the fridge stocked with Mad Tom IPA, as I really want to support Ontario breweries that are branching out and brewing this style, and to show them that there is a market for this style of beer here. I really think it’s just a matter of time until American IPAs are a much more popular style here in Ontario.

Well done Muskoka! I’m going to make a point of visiting the brewery this summer on the way to the cottage. Muskoka is quickly becoming my favorite Ontario brewery. Adding Mad Tom to the new special releases (Summer Weiss and Harvest Ale) and the already solid Lager and Cream Ale…. great stuff. Thanks!

Score: A-

Mad Tom is currently available at select Beer Store and LCBO locations. Get out there and give it a shot!

– Jesse The Belly

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6 Responses to Muskoka Brewery – Mad Tom IPA

  1. Think you might have missed out on Mill Street’s Tankhouse.
    Pretty much your typical AIPA. Only Centennial hops so more Grapefruit and pine without the lemon/orange notes that Mad Tom has.

    • brewbelly says:

      Hi Bruce,

      I’d call Tankhouse an APA (American Pale Ale)… or even an American Amber/Red Ale. It does have similar hop characteristics as an American IPA, but the hop levels (IBUs) as well as the alcohol content are lower. The sweeter malts make me even lean more towards an Amber… but who really knows! Thanks for you comment.

      Jess

  2. patrick says:

    Totally agree in all your comments….
    I took the drive to Southern Tier on a recent road trip and was blown away on the whole brewery and the terrific beers.
    Glad Muskoka stepped up and brought the hops to the fore.
    Also loving the new Spearhead IPA….

  3. RonMacDonald says:

    Well now…..I gave up wines six years ago…too complicated, but little did I know that beer was as well…..this ‘mad tom’ is a complicated mix of hop and orange peel….that’s my palette…..but not withstanding……served very cold, to mellow it’s exentricitiies…it’s fabulous…seriously a good beer if and only if you love beer! Canadian?….but of course! drinkable? without a doubt….it’s strong and it’s flavourable, interpreted meaning it’s strong to the taste….but after the first the rest are the pleasure of beer! and of course from there on in…you know what to expect…..beer? of course! thanks! R.MacD.

  4. I’m a hop head and my first choice is always American IPA’s. I live in Ottawa where the style is just not popular and not readily available. To get my fix I need to travel to Vermont where they are all over the place. In my opinion, the best style going. Some of my favourite beers on the planet are Racer #5 IPA and The Alchemist Heady Topper DIPA. Muskoka has done a great job with this offering… a true West Coast IPA in Ontario. I love the big grapefruit taste. I had my first one on labour day weekend and was very impressed, much better than McAuslin’s IPA which is closer to an English style. I can say that Mad Tom stands it’s ground against some of the best IPA’s in the USA and it’s now readily available to me! Thank you Muskoka Brewery!

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