I’ve been very much enjoying the Mad Tom clone I brewed up a few weeks ago, so I figured I’d do another one today. What’s “Mad Tom” you ask? It’s a beer that is put out by Muskoka Breweries, styled after American India Pale Ale, or “AIPA” for short. Very hop-forward in taste and aroma, you’ll either really like it or not care for it at all. I find for me, the more hops the better… LOVE the flavour!

Here’s how the recipe works: after I’ve mashed my 9 or so pounds of malted barley grain (i.e. soaked them in 150 degree water for 90 minutes), I remove them grains, pour sparge water over them (more on that later), then for the 60 minute boil, I add in the pelletized hops in at 60 minutes, then 30, 10, and at flameout. That’s a LOT of hops! The one added at 60 is for bittering, and not much flavour comes through. The alpha acids are fully converted to a bittering compound, which helps counter the malty sweetness that would come through otherwise. The less time hops are boiled, the more their flavour and aroma come through. Think of pine and grapefruit… (depending on the hop variety). Quite tasty!

So, what’s sparging? Glad you asked! This is a new step I added into my brew day that helps extract all of the wort from the soaked grain. I used to just squeeze it out when I suspended the nylon bag over the boil kettle (think of the grain being in a big tea bag), but that does add some tannins that are in the grain husk. The better thing to do is pour hot water over the grain until the run-off is clear… which is a process called – you guessed it – “sparging”.

Once that step is done, the wort gets boiled, and hops added as previously described… and even that is different now. My former means of boiling was to use my propane camp stove, but I now have a honkin’ big 100,000 BTU burner (see pic). Wow, does it ever pump out the heat… and go  through the propane! They’re mostly meant for deep frying turkeys, but they double well as a boil kettle for beer. Works for me! The burners on my camp stove weren’t hot enough when the temperature was anything below -10 F, so I can now freeze my ass off AND make great beer at the same time.


Half way through writing this blog, I had to go outside and use the snow blower – A.K.A. Jim’s walker – to rid our property of 15 cm of freshly fallen snow. Old man winter was a naster dude this year, with everyone crying for warmer temps and the snow to be gone. I truly hope this is the last dump of the year! Nothing to do with beer; just needed to rant… 😉


Cheers for beers!