Old Habit - Ithaca Beer Company
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Ratings: 159 | Reviews: 117 | Display Reviews Only:
4.97/5 rDev +26.8%
Rye beers somehow make their way straight to my heart. The rich uniquely sweet and earthy flavors and distinct freshness just get me every time. Ithaca Beer Co stopped me in my tracks last weekend when I sat down with my good bud and we enjoyed a bottle of their Old Habit Strong Rye Ale; part of their Excelsior line of beers. This Rye beer is aged in Kentucky Rye Whiskey Barrels. Ummmm... Thank you!
First of all, I really appreciate the design of this bottle. To the untrained eye it is obviously a wine bottle. All the way from the shape of the bottle, to the very classically designed label and the rubber cap on the head of it make it stand out as something special. It has been brewed with four different rye malts, fresh centennial and crystal hops and then fermented in gorgeous oak barrels from Heaven Hill.
I picked this bottle up with many others during my most recent beer mission to Buffalo, and this proved to be a very very worthy choice.
I poured the Old Habit into two snifter style glasses to capture all the aroma and flavor that I was expecting to come. This beer is 9%abv, and is loaded with rich aromatics. The pour was gentle but extremely lively building a dense and creamy tan colored head with rich browns and lots of action. By the end of the pour there was a powerful two inch mountain of head resting gently above a deep ruby beer.
This picture unfortunately does not do the color justice, but it really was a purple and mahogany deep ruby with streaks of amber and black ivory piercing through it. Completely opaque, with minimal carbonation apparent, it starred at me telling me to drink it, now! I would of course oblige, but first would go in for a nose.
I brought my nose close and breathed deep. A rush of rye malt sweetness and soft caramel maltiness tingles the nose. Shortly, a huge rush of aroma comes bursting at you from the oak ageing. Massive aromas of oak and whisky sweetness are very obvious. Spicy rye whisky, the sweet vanilla and spice of the whisky too shows itself with no regard for shame. It comes right out there raw and uninterrupted. If you look deep, there are light berries and dark cherries hidden too in the nose, and a light field fresh scent of hops. Absolutely magnificent.
I would now dive into this beer, as I promised it I would - instantly lightly tart but hugely sweet rye malts flow over your tongue while the whisky and oak sweetness melts over the sides and aggressively caresses your cheeks. Warming and soft vanilla and caramel makes its way in with malty warmth and honey sweetness. This beer shows significant complexity and spice from the rye. The cherry and berry lively fruit aromas come in now also with light touches of sweetness. Light smoke begins to show, but its subdued under huge oak and malt sweetness.
Also though, the Oak barrels undoubtedly have contributed much spice and charter to this beer. Notes of coriander, white pepper, cinnamon, allspice and cumin seed are all playing in the background. The rugged alcohol sweetness of rye is floating by aiding the strength of this warming, soft soothing beer. The mouthfeel is actually exactly that - minimal carbonation gives it a sublime body which aids its cause perfectly. To much carbonation would have created a beer that attacks you, rather than delights.
By now too, I am impressed with the beers head retention. A good 10 minutes later and still a dense creamy light brown head managed to keep its cool. The finish is sharp and sweet, ripely quenching with crisp hops, and leaving me wanting more. Very appetizing. It really was a huge pleasure to enjoy, and is without a question among the best Oak Aged Beers I have ever had.
To often all you see are oak aged stouts, which are beautiful. But sometimes the oak can overpower a stout and become unbalanced. This Rye Beer example is superb, and I tip my cap to Ithica for creating such a magical beer. I will be very excited to enjoy theirTwelve, a Belgian Style Quadrupel.
08-22-2010 23:14:27 | More by StephenRich
4.7/5 rDev +19.9%
Everyone once in a while you have a beer than defines an entire style. For me this is rye beer and everything else is shit after it.
A: Poured a super dark brownish red color into my snifter. Had about a finger and a half of white head with some lacing.
S: Rye. Great most rye beers do not actually smell like rye. You get a little reminded of the bourbon barrel as well with some hints of actual bourbon and oak. A little bit of spiciness is there as well. Little bit of vanilla in there as well.
T: Damn playboy. I just love this beer. The rye and the barrel work together so well other brewers really should get on Ithaca's coattails The rye is right up there and actually tastes like rye. The whiskey barrels actually flush out the rye taste quite a bit. The bottle talks about a black cherry taste and I do get a bit of that as well. This is complex and well crafted.
M: Silky and smooth. How is a barrel aged beer of 9% smooth? I have no idea but it is.
D: The old habit is my new habit. Damn this beer just really speaks to me in a way my liver fears. It is hard for me to get which makes me appreciate it even more. The folks down at Ithaca have been turning out some kick ass beers of late. Time for the rest of the world to notice.
12-21-2008 00:00:12 | More by aerozeppl
4.68/5 rDev +19.4%
New batch E!045. Amazing. Had it years back when cheif was still there and was amazing then. But Ididnt remember it being this good. Slightly sour and a bit fruity with a some vanilla taste in the finish complement of the burboun barrels. A very complex beer and overall just awesome. One of the best beers I've had in a while. Right up there with brute, le blue and the original ithaca 10!
06-16-2013 07:02:56 | More by Bernie666
4.63/5 rDev +18.1%
Batch E!007 -- thanks to bgthang for the share at a small BA gathering.
Pours a rich, chestnut-sienna body with a beautiful, light brown head. The cap of tiny bubbles sticks around for quite a while, leaving some nicely draped splotches of lacing. Wafting upward comes notes of caramel-toffee candy, lots of brown sugar, amber malts, and a pinch of aromatic rye.
Old Habit hits the palate running with a huge burst of oaken woodiness, followed immediately by notes of spicy rye and sugary, toffee malts. Prune and fig chime in from the yeastiness, making for a wholly delicious, complex rye beer--perhaps the best one I've ever had. Mouthfeel is smooth and juicy, with a nicely carbonated medium body that finishes with a kiss of rye and hops. Dee-lish. Incredible beer. [Insert additional generic rave]. Will definitely be seeking this one out again.
04-12-2009 22:14:21 | More by wagenvolks
4.58/5 rDev +16.8%
Thanks to Kempleton for this awesome treat
The 2007 bottle pored into a snifter. When held up to the light it produced a wonderful burgandy color brew topped off with a off white head that last for some time before turning to a thick lace
Big bourbon aromas filled my nostrils with each sniff I got more complex smell of spices like pepper and vanilla and a light rye presence is also there as well
This ale is great if you like whisky. The whisky flavor is strong I am glad I went with the snifter for this brew It reminded me so much of a great Rye Whisky I couldn't get much more from it. I will say it wasn't warm at all from the alcohol it did hide it quite well. The mouthfeel of this brew is full with light carbonation
I liked this brew I didn't know what to expect from it. Now that I had it I would search it out again for another bottle for my cellar
11-24-2008 00:47:03 | More by joepais
4.55/5 rDev +16.1%
25.6 oz. bottle into a Brooklyn tulip. Had to pick up another bottle from the series, and will continue to do so when I can and they're available.
Appearance: What I love about this is that every time you pour it it's like the first time, which, maybe oddly enough, doesn't happen as often with beers. And even after the initial pour, there's head and lacing around the neck of the bottle. But nothing's out of control -- it's just Belgian-like, through and through, which was unexpected. And the color's somewhere between an RIS and an amber, with a ton of gorgeously deep red and blacks going on, nearly opaque.
Smell: The complexity to this sucker is out of control. Big lambic woody sourness at first, along with the spiciness from the rye, the pungency of the hop tandem, charred notes of wood from the malt, along with some caramel, vanilla, and roasted chocolate, and some vanilla caramel booziness from the whiskey. And when it warms the whiskey notes mix with the tart and hugely pungent cherry aromas, along with other tropical and blisteringly ripe fruit that mixes well with the spicy rye notes. Always-changing and morphing and bringing weird notes as the temperature changes. There's TLC going on. Big time.
Taste: First, as it warms, you have the woodiness, the charred malts, the caramel nature, the sourness, a bit of anise, some charcoal. But there's a huge amount of spice, rye, and sharply effulgent estery sweetness in the way of tart cherries and candied caramel granny smith apple that do some great things too. Long lingering finish where the chocolate, caramel, and barrel notes come in, along with the booziness and sharpness of the whiskey notes, that seem to play with the rye spiciness and pungent hop character extremely well. Is this a Rye Beer? Barley Wine? Imperial Amber? What the hell is this thing? It's heady, wonderful, and encapsulating is what it is.
Mouthfeel: If this were up to the 11% or 12% range, maybe this could be cloying, but that's the other thing they get right here: they don't overdo it in the least. Like a slow-motion balloon popping in your mouth that expels slow clouds into every cavity. Just awesome.
Drinkability: A wonderful beer all around, and though I had Brute at the brewery almost a month ago, and have yet to open the bottle I'm hoping to save, I'm not sure it can beat Old Habit once I sit down to actually try it from the bottle. This is one of those "Whoa" brews for me, where the complexity, the drinkability, and the experience just click, left and right and up and down and everywhere. I haven't had an experience like this with a beer since Cuvee de Tomme, which makes me realize that Ithaca needs to 1) Keep doing what they're doing, 2) Get their beers to keep moving across the country, and 3) Keep making beers in this series. It's been about three hours now since I've been sipping on this, and I have a hard time believing that this isn't worth more than what I paid for it, which I believe was somewhere in the 11$-$13 range. This is how you experiment, folks. And this is how you get it right. Can't wait to try more, and more, and more, from the series.
10-13-2009 04:47:09 | More by asabreed
4.55/5 rDev +16.1%
note: bottle # 1485 from the first bottling
a: Deep dark copper in color, no haze in the first glass from the 750ml bottle. Pours with a big light tan head, decent retention.
s: Wow, there is a lot here! Some vanilla, oak, alcohol/whiskey, and some fruit that is about to rot. The malts combine some sweetness with sour earthy peats.
t: Starts with some vanilla and sweet smokey malts upfront. Sweet overripe cherries and a barely discernible hop tingle are next. At the finishing exhale a nice warming whiskey burn shows itself. Superbly balanced and complex.
m: The carbonation is creamy and does a great job coating the mouth and tongue. Overall texture is a bit syrupy.
d: Rumor has it this will be released again. I certainly hope so. Huge thanks to LittleBreeze for the chance to try this one.
12-04-2007 12:07:47 | More by DIM
4.53/5 rDev +15.6%
thanks to beertruth for this via trade and recommendation!
wow, think english barleywine brewed with rye malts and aged in rye barrels and the bottled for your enjoyment. What a wonderful combination of tastes and textures. The rye bite has been rounded off in the process and what's left is an amazingly balanced, drinkable brew that shows off finer qualities of both beer and rye whiskey. If finishes crisp and dry with a light resonant rye taste that just leaves you wanting another sip.
Having had a taste of a 1934 bottle of Rye whiskey for comparison purposes, this beer is great. If I was anywhere near the distribution area I'd buy a case or two for my beer cellar.
08-05-2007 17:12:00 | More by barleywinebrewer
4.5/5 rDev +14.8%
Bottle labeled E!007
A: Chestnut brown, some haziness. A fluffy and thick, rich head. Retention is very nice.
S: A big rye aroma... Like, a crispy rye bread. Not as many fusel alcohols as I might expect in comparison to the rye grain scents. Some powdery, unsweetened chocolate notes. I keep sniffing this over and over... Very good.
T: Big rye whiskey dominates. The powdery chocolate is there, again, but an after-thought. A leafy bitterness and a big, roasty malt backbone. Nice stuff
M: Big, creamy body... Quite rich and smooth. A nice, shimmering carbonation, and a load of flavour on the finish. A nice warming, a little after the fact.
D: Big sipper, and a flavour that pairs nicely. A very impressive brew, and one I found to be extraordinary. Awesome beer.
03-22-2009 16:09:05 | More by Proteus93
4.5/5 rDev +14.8%
Purchased in beverage center in Ithaca July 2007. Pricey, but attractive numbered 750 ml bottle (#370) from a top NY brewery. Served with Thanksgiving dinner in Neerlands Trappist goblet.
A - Deep golden ruby color with fine egg cream lasting head.
S - Refined, rich, malty rye aroma with plenty of fruit (cherry, lichee, pomegranate) and whiskey.
T - Mature rye with plenty of alcohol. Slightly sweet fruit (raisins, lime?) balanced with moderate bitterness and oak and whiskey and scotch. Delicious!
M - Fills the mouth and nose with creamy beer perfection.
D - Terrific brew. Maybe best example of American rye tasted. Will be looking for more Ithaca Beer Co. specialties.
11-22-2007 23:57:04 | More by melitameister
4.5/5 rDev +14.8%
This was released June 07 and is bottle #1905. Poured into sturdy chalice. Poured with minimal carbonation and no head or lacing. Poured a very deep, rich brown with a slight reddish tinge. A strong, deep, raisiny aroma with a slight spice note. A strong alcohol presence in the first sip that's not as noticeable on the following tastes. The earthy, fruitish taste followed the aroma closely. The sharp taste I usually find in rye beers is subdued, perhaps due to the age? Body is very full and pleasing, substantial without being overpowering. Very drinkable, but with 9% ABV you probably won't be drinking several in a row. I find myself wishing I had tried this fresher and saved a bottle for now, I think it would make for an interesting vertical tasting.
01-29-2009 05:27:19 | More by beertunes
4.47/5 rDev +14%
Sampled at a BA friend's house last night.
Came in a 750 ml bottle E!007 (whatever that means).
Appearance: medium brown color. Light brown head, smallish.
Aroma: Spicy, whiskey, oak. Malty sweetness. A great blend of flavors.
Taste: whiskey, oakey, spicy, hoppy, A magnificent blend of flavors. I love rye beers and this is definitely the best of the style. Quite a suprise. Add to wants has been clicked.
Mouthfeel: Incredible, creamy, excellent.
Drinkability: I could've put this whole 750 away by myself, easily.
Quite a surprise. Far and away the best Ithaca beer I've had.
01-26-2009 21:16:42 | More by JonathanL7890
4.45/5 rDev +13.5%
Batch E!007 into Duvel tulip during LNBA high time...around 3 AM
Beautiful full= finger head - buttery rye bread color - almost maple dulce de leche. Chewy and bready. Chestnut brown - more like cherrywood with a tinge of mahogany - in color. Good lacing.
There's deep, copious amounts of caramel malt with a slightly austere and metallic bushel of rye in there. Hop profile is a little piney - let this warm, most definitely.
First sip is colder than it needs to be but damn...so friggin' COMFORTING. The malt is like the heaviest winter blanket - huge, thick and warm. Subtle dark texture...austerity from the oak and a light but effective bourbon topcoat. The hop presence is mild but keeps the other elements in line from getting too big for their britches. Almost like a rye TEN. Lots of Beautiful Chemistry going on here. Dark roast of maly isn't hefty at all...very soothing.
This has one of the most comforting palate feels. Hops have a grass/pine bite and a little acidity to mesh perfectly with the huge amount of caramel and rye malt. Alcohol is present but restrained. Everything a nighttime beer should be.
Drinks a lot more quickly than it should...EXCELLENT product!
12-09-2008 15:03:50 | More by IBUnit63
4.45/5 rDev +13.5%
I got this bottle in a trade with nutbrown. Thanks Alan!
It pours a murky dark brown with a tiny amount of foam...by the time I set the glass down, there was only a ring around the glass and a tiny bit of lacing.
The smell has notes of fruit, chocolate, and oak. Very nice nose.
The taste is well, very tasty. I'm getting some fruity tones with cherries being number 1, some good chocolate, vanilla, and a very nice rye *and* nice oaky/bourbon overtone that seem to blend very well with the other flavours. Nice! Nice medium mouthfeel here and the carbonation is lightly done. Also, the alcohol is very nicely hidden and doesn't hurt the drinkability much for me at all.
The more I sip, the more I notice how complex this brew is...I guess that's because it's warming up since I opened it after I took it straight out of the fridge. ;^)
Man, what a great sipping brew this is...and yet another very impressive offering from the gang at Ithaca. If this is available locally to you, *Please* don't let the price tag scare you away($16.95 for the 750ml)...imnsho, it is worth every penny and was a super inclusion in this trade. Thanks again muchly, Alan!!
08-17-2008 16:13:43 | More by Bitterbill
4.43/5 rDev +13%
Pours a dark sort of caramel-like brown color, bit of red around the edges and a finger and a half of tan head on top. Head is pretty creamy and takes awhile to settle to a thin lace, and then leaves a bit of stick on the sides.
First thing to hit my nose is some citrusy hop aromas, followed by some sweet malt, chocolate, oak, vanilla and bourbon. Bourbon aroma is very nice and doesn't overpower the rest of it.
Taste is all of the aforementioned aroma characteristics just blended together beautifully. One addition is rye flavor which I didn't pick up much in the nose, but which definitely lends a nice spicy note here. I get a bit of chocolate flavor here, too, as I did in the smell, and there is some citrusy hop flavor going on too although it is pretty subtle. And let me not forget the bourbon, with along with some vanilla is very prominent but used perfectly. It never overpowers but is always there, and it lingers long into the aftertaste making me think I am perhaps drinking a spirit rather than a beer. The flavors come and go and change as it warms, and it's just wonderfully complex, smooth and delicious.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and the carbonation is appropriate. Could maybe be a bit fuller even given that it is somewhat of a sipper.
I really like this beer. I could sit down with a bottle of this and be very happy and content for the evening. Along with Allagash Curieux this is the finest use of bourbon barreling that I personally have yet experienced. Great beer.
07-07-2008 00:00:05 | More by number1bum
4.43/5 rDev +13%
A big thanks to my man JJ for hooking me up!
Released June 2007 - Bottle 1355
Appearance - Rusty dark brown. Minimal tannish head falls quick. Not much lacing to speak of.
Smell - Dark fruits, cherries, malt, booze, hints of vanilla and oak.
Taste - Same as it smells but with some light coffee, tangy rye, and light citrus. Finishes with some light bitter hops. The 9% ABV is hidden for the most part. The bourbon flavors are blended well. Not overpowering in anyway.
Mouth feel - Slick and smooth. Low amount of carbonation.
Drinkability - A damn good sipper that drinks like a barley wine. Recommended!
01-14-2008 02:51:35 | More by DavidEddie
4.43/5 rDev +13%
poured into my little samuel smith flute, this beer is a gorgeous rubyish brown .nice persistent head that leaves great lacing. honestly i can't say anything bad about it.
nose has some slight whiskey with an alcohol burn,bit of vanilla from the wood. slight bit of tart dark fruits.s
this is a great beer.nice notes of raisiny dark fruits,slight amount of spice from the rye, followed by very nice notes of whiskey and oak.somewhat fruity-esque mineral flavor in the finish,pretty intriguing though.that is the only way i can describe it.
mouthfeel is great.full bodied and creamy with a nice amount of carbonation to accentuate the flavors.
overall this is a great rye beer. wish it had wider availability.
10-06-2009 04:16:29 | More by wyattshotmaker
Old Habit from Ithaca Beer Company
88 out of 100 based on 159 ratings.