Ithaca is a brewery that, for some unknown reason, hasn’t garnered much love on this blog. This is more of an oversight than anything else, so don’t grab your torches and pitchforks just yet, as I’m trying to rectify that. Flower Power has steadily built up mindshare in Kaedrin’s crowded go-to IPA category, and just this past summer, whilst on vacation in upstate New York, Ithaca provided me with a savior amongst macros; I sucked down a few Ground Break saisons which were quite nice.
So now I snap into their Excelsior! series of beers, their line of limited run experimental beers. This one is made with four different rye malts, some Centennial and Crystal hops, and is partially fermented/aged in old Rittenhouse Rye barrels. So lets develop some old habits, shall we?
Ithaca Old Habit – Pours a murky brown color with half a finger of fizzy off white head that completely disappears after just a few seconds. Smells of dark crystal malts and a sharp rye twang, with hints of that whiskey barrel poking through. Taste has a similar feel to it, very sweet, lots of rich caramelized fruit, some spice coming from the rye, and not a lot in the way of barrel character, though it’s there. The fruit character is interesting, especially in the finish, which isn’t tart or sour or anything, but it has a bite to it that’s hard to place. It very randomly called to mind a soda I used to drink growing up called Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak (if you grew up in the Philly area at a certain time, you almost certainly know and love this stuff). Of course, I haven’t had that in at least a decade, so take this with a grain of salt, but hey, neurons fire for a reason, and this beer was firing Black Cherry Wishniak neurons. Go figure. Mouthfeel is reasonably well carbonated, on the lower end of full bodied, a little richness, and some stickiness that lingers in the aftertaste. It’s great in small doses, but gets a bit cloying for a whole 750. Reminds me a little of The Bruery Rugbrod. Overall, it’s an interesting beer, definitely got that rye character and it’s a decent drink. B
Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/18/13. Batch # E!045.
Still intrigued by the rest of Ithaca’s Excelsior! series, in particular beers like LeBleu and Brute. Alas, the only other one that appears to be available to me at the moment is White Gold… which may make an appearance at the next beer club…