By Lakes Of Muskoka Cottage Brewery.
Ok, this review is a bit of an experiment. I just got back from Southern California (drinking Firestone Walker, Pliny, Green Flash, Hercules DIPA – all beers with exceptional and above ratings on Beer Advocate) so I’m trying one of these straight away while those are still my standard be(e)rer. In a recent blind taste test (several weeks back) I preferred this over several Ontario IPA’s (Duggins, Smash Bomb) and even Central City’s Red Racer (which surprised me). Poured from a bottle into a tulip. Here goes:
Appearance: It’s got a great head which started really pillowy and came down only slightly with nice lacing. The color is a nice clear copper with a little orange, which is where I think it ought to be.
Smell: Pine, hoppy-grapefruit, some light sweet-honey malt. It doesn’t have the big tropical fruits of a west coast IPA (mangos, passion fruit, melons, or papaya), but it’s nicely balanced and there are a few hints of some of those fruits.
Taste: It continues with the piny grapefruit which gives way to some malty sweetness and hop sweetness (honey and tropical fruit). It’s a little faint, maybe I’m looking too hard. It finishes with a great, deep grapefruit bitter. Overall, the best part of the taste is the rich grapefruit bitter.
Mouthfeel: A little lighter than I’d like, but with a nice sharp carbonation. A little alcohol burn to help with the grapefruit bitter.
Overall: This is a solid IPA that is certainly among the best of the style in Ontario. I think it straddles the line between being easily drinkable/session-able (which is really, really is) and being a top-tier IPA which could maybe help Ontario play (even field a player!) with the bigger guys in the North American beer-review world. Maybe if there was a double Mad Tom (Crazy Tom? Committed Tom?) where the tastes could be ramped up beyond what might be expected in Ontario this might help bump this “good” beer into the “exceptional” category. As it stands, an vastly under-rated beer which should help break the unfortunate excuse “it’s a great IPA for something brewed in Ontario.”
Right now, this is my go-to Ontario IPA. I prefer it to Smashbomb, for what that’s worth. It’s more on the earthy/piny/English side, where Smashbomb is more on the citrus/tropical fruit/American side. They make a great team!