It's a Mad, Mad World!


One of the great things about having time off over the holidays is that I had the opportunity to relax, put my feet up, and do as little as possible.

Oh yeah: and drink some fabulous ales!

After my review of Muskoka Brewery's Winter Beard Double-Chocolate Cranberry Stout, I couldn't wait to try more beer from this Ontario cottage-country brewer. And I didn't wait long.

This time, I sampled the Mad Tom IPA. Here's the skinny:
Mad Tom IPA
Bracebridge, ON
LCBO: $13.45, 6x355 ml; 6.4% alc/vol
This is one intense IPA. From its nose to its finish, this brew smacks of flavour. Though I have to admit that when I first poured it into my glass, I wasn't so sure of what to expect.

When I think of a true India Pale Ale, I visualize a beer that is pale in comparison to a porter or stout, which is what originally defined the IPAs. Alexander Keith got it wrong when he made his IPA: these brews were made in the U.K. and prepared for the long haul to India. They were primarily brewed with roasted pale malt, which gave it a dark hue, but less dark than the stouts.

For me, if an IPA is very pale—such as with Keith's—then it ain't done in the traditional way. In my opinion, that is.

But this review is my opinion, isn't it? And anyway, I'm getting off-topic.

For Muskoka Brewery, the golden-orange colour of the IPA is somewhere in between Keith's and my opinion of what an IPA should be. And hence, my trepidation prior to tasting it.

With Mad Tom, looks are deceiving.

Getting beyond the paleness of this pale ale, I went straight to the aroma. And man, is Mad Tom intense. The first thing to hit my nose was concentrated fruit and honey. I smelled lychee: lots of lychee. As the bouquet opened, I also detected citrus—grapefruit and orange.

The grapefruit carried through to the palate and was backed with beautifully bitter hops. The taste continued into a long, satisfying finish that made me want to take another sip. And another.

I love bitter beers. And I love Mad Tom. I enjoyed drinking it so much that it just might become my new regular beer.

If you enjoy full-bodied IPAs, you'd be mad to pass this one up.

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