Time for a confessional: a month ago I was thinking back to my 2012 Ontario craft beer tiers, which saw Muskoka come out on top. Looking back over the past eight months (the tiers were delayed and came in March), I was wondering if Muskoka was slipping to breweries like Great Lakes, Beau’s and Amsterdam. Where those breweries have established themselves through a number of one-offs, barrel aging programs and other interesting activities, Muskoka steadily releases the same wonderful seasonal beers every year. The Spring Oddity was the only new beer of the year, which was a really nice beer but doesn’t make for the most impressive resume. Then came big news that through a wrench into my thinking – Muskoka was releasing a year-round Double IPA called Twice As Mad Tom, which they were kind enough to send me a sample of.
To make another confession, I have to admit that I didn’t love Mad Tom at first. It’s a beer that slowly worked its charms on me and I now consider one of the best Ontario IPAs. Luckily Twice As Mad Tom comes in a four-pack ($??, 8.4%), so I could try it a number of times to really work out my opinion. (Some people want IPAs and Double IPAs in bombers, by a standard bottle is just right for me. I find it nice to try the same beer on different nights, in different contexts.) The beer pours a clear burnt orange with a nice cap of white head. A big, clear aroma of candied orange and pine. Grapefruit and peach jump out as the first flavours, lying overtop a graham cracker sweetness. Leads to a big pine finish that is assertive but not overly bitter. A little resinous and minty at the end. Nice lively carbonation.
Twice As Mad Tom is a clear extension from Mad Tom. It relies on the same balance and structure that makes the original such a classic IPA. The difference in ABV is actually pretty small (6.4% to 8.4%), so it really just feels like a slightly amped up version of a great beer. Some may want bigger differences or a bigger beer (ie. more hops and more bitterness), but to me the two beers make sense separately and as a package. In many ways it is a big, aggressive beer, but also fairly tame by Double IPA standards. It will appeal to those drinkers who first got into IPAs through Mad Tom and beer geeks looking for a solid Double IPA that is always available. Well done Muskoka!