The Ithaca Ale House Grill & Taproom

very good

31 Ratings

Type: Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

111 N Aurora St
Ithaca, New York, 14850-4301
United States

(607) 256-7977 | map

No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-30-2007

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Ratings: 31 |  Reviews: 21
Photo of suspect
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

The Ithaca Ale House is right on the edge of the commons which makes it's location pretty cool. Also - they're open for lunch. If Bandwagon were open for lunch I'd much rather go there, but all in all, I enjoy a trip to the Ithaca Ale House probably once a year. It's pretty pricey when a couple of beers and a burger add up to $38 including tip.

Regardless, the food is good and the selection is pretty good as well. Not sure how fresh their bottles are, I ordered Thirteen on draft which was $8 for 10oz...pricey.

The bartender had the biggest bottle of Double Bastard I've ever seen stashed behind the bar. Seriously, it was about 3 feet tall and he said it was about 3-4 years old. I would *love* to be around when he cracked that open!

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The Ithaca Ale House is a restaurant and bar that is located among many other bars and restaurants on Aurora, right on the downtown/commons area.

The bar is in the front of the place on the right, with a few flat screens above it, as well as a few coolers stocked with 25ish bottles with various offerings from DogFish Head, Bear Republic, Ithaca and others. The taps are also located behind the bar, attached to kegs that were cut in half and attached to the wall. Beyond the bar there are more tall tables, along with some low tables; you can see into the kitchen from this area.

This place is crowded basically every night, but not with just students. Some grad students, young professionals and others of various ages tend to hang out here. Like most of Ithaca, the vibe is casual and pretty friendly, although sometimes the crowd is a little much for me.

The servers know about the beers and are helpful. Service at the bar is especially friendly and good, with a couple of the usual bartenders being great. I haven't encountered anyone who is a huge beer nut here, although that isn't really required for good, knowledgeable service.

Of the 20 taps, probably 10 stay the same all the time, and they include beers such as Racer 5, Arrogant Bastard, Harpoon White and a smattering of regional favorites from breweries such as Troegs, Brooklyn, Ithaca, Watkins Glen and others. The rotating taps usually have at least one or two harder to find beers such as Ithaca special releases and a selection of seasonals. I most recently saw Sierra Nevada Hoptimum there.

The food is above average bar food. The sandwiches are quite good, and most are made with sauces/breading/marinades that are beer based. You can choose a side including salad or soup for no extra cost. There are usually a few specials that have been rather good when I have tried them.

Overall, the Ale House is a good place to check out, especially because all of the other good beer places (Bandwagon, Silky Jones, The Westy, Pixel, Chapter House) do not open until 4-5, while the Ale House opens for lunch.

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Photo of nh2032
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The Ithaca Ale House is right on "restaurant row" at the north end of the Commons. They offer 20 taps with a very nice variety. Their "standard" offerings seem to be Racer 5, Arrogant Bastard, Stone Pale Ale, Harpoon UFO, Lindeman's Framboise, and the usual Guiness/Stella. There is almost always something from Ithaca Beer Co. and an offering from Roosterfish in Watkins Glen too.

The rest of the selection rotates quite frequently, but focuses on NY and PA with Brooklyn, Saranac, Southern Tier, Troegs, Victory, and Sly Fox showing up often. Additionally some really nice draft-only beers show up once in a while including Ithaca Super Friends, Barrel Aged Super Friends, Brooklyn Blast, Brooklyn Cookie Jar Porter, etc... These typically go quick, but it's nice that the tap updates are posted on their webpage a couple times a week.

They do offer two flights: a "beginner's" flight which doesn't have anything special and a "what's new" flight. Both of these include five 4 oz pours and usually run about $10.

The atmosphere is pretty good although it can get quite loud and crowded if there's an event going on at either of the schools. Service is typically pretty good, again depending on how busy things are.

The food is good with a nice selection. I've had 4 or 5 of the different burgers and they are always excellent. My wife enjoys the flatbread pizza as well. The Ale House Nachos are great and are easily big enough to feed a group of 4 or 5.

Overall, a great place to stop, just wish it was a little closer to home and we'd be there multiple times a month.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Pulled up a seat at the bar and was immediately waited on by someone who knew beer and asked what I might be looking for. Solid.

Plenty of great local offerings and lots of tap rotation and nice clean pours. They don't have 100 beers on tap but what they do have is all on the better end of the spectrum.

Food is better than normal pub faire. Definitely a great place for lunch or dinner if you are looking for a place to check out and have food with a few nice pints.

Great prices on everything and well worth your time when in Ithaca.

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Photo of asabreed
4.14/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

My wife and I stopped here for a beer a couple days ago.

There's a long bar starting at the corner when you first walk in, wooden booths along the other wall across from the ball, each with a Great Lakes possibly-aluminum sign (is that the word?) hanging above each bar. Decent decor overall, very friendly atmosphere.

The bartender was straight-faced but efficient, always checking everyone's drinks, knowing how to pour beer, answering questions, etc. He knew his stuff. And the service was great.

We didn't try the food, though we were thinking of going there later and we didn't, but it seems like it's nice pub grub. I saw a few burgers being delivered to the booths, along with some appetizers.

Oh, and I suppose I forgot to mention that they have about 15 taps, which is a good number, though a lot were bordering on your normal domestic brews you can get. But they did have a few good ones like Ithaca Ground Break and Troegs Nugget Nectar, and there were more that I was choosing from that I can't remember currently.

Overall, a nice place, relaxed atmosphere, good bartender, and we'll be returning for a brew next time we go. Check it out if you're in the area.

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Photo of sholland119
3.88/5  rDev -1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

A nice place to stop for a decent meal and good craft beer.

Cool, modern atmosphere with a C-shaped bar inside the door with some high top tables behind and in front.

About 20 taps of mostly craft beer, centered on local (Ithaca), New England (Wachusett) and CA (Stone, Lost Coast, North Coast) beers. A nice beer list as well. Nothing mind blowing but plenty of decent beer to choose from.

The menu has a wide variety of burgers, flatbreads, salads and sandwiches. Our sandwiches were tasty.

Service was not unpleasant but not particularly attentive.


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Photo of slander
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Some good hours spent first at the Ithaca Brewfest and now post Pixel, we've come off the hill to find the Ithaca Ale House kind of jamming, as is everywhere tonight. And it was about this time that those aforementioned good hours spent caught up to me some, these notes the next morning found "scrinted" (meaning written in print without lifting the pen between letters like script), on the backs of 2 small "Ithaca Brew Fest" drink cards in very poor penmanship and with some questionable "what's that fricken word?" action. Filled in the blanks some on a revisit en route to Rochester a few weeks later...

Crazy "C" shaped bowling lane slat wood under plexi bar off to the right seats a dozen and a half, with a wrap around pipe foot rail. A center space on the stone block bar back wall holds 4 "mounted keg" towers, with 5 handles on each, over a stainless steel drain panel & counter area. Tiered booze to both sides and shelved below, and hanging glassware above from the underside of shelving units with sunken spots, displaying vodkas, wines, Ithaca Ale House growlers, an Arrogant Bastard magnum & Harpoon mug, and other bits of this and that.

A pair of raised bar tables off to the right tight in that little area between the bar and the paneled doors & front windows, and 5 booths running the far wall adjacent to the bar. To the rear, peeks through to the kitchen off to one side, and a ½ dozen raised bar tables before a slight step up stage area, with a stone backed wall. There are usually 10 small tables there, but someone's setting up for stage play just now, and they were good enough to set up a very large speaker right next to me. I'm hoping to get the hell out of here before loudness happens from it. White walls with mounted mini bell spots, Guinness prints and brewery neons & signage. Foldy corrugated metal ceiling with exposed rafters belly & duct work throughout, drop mini bell spots over bar, and ceiling fans a-spinnin'. Flatscreens above the taps and in the front corner, and another sunken TV to the rear over the kitchen. And a small pen out front with 7 tables for curbside seating.

20 taps, nearly 1/3 of them NY state micros (Ithaca Cascazilla & 10, Roosterfish Summer Sky Hefeweizen, Sackets Harbor War of 1812 Amber, Saranac Pomegranate Wheat, Blue Point Toasted Lager), and then some regional (Clipper City Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Sly Fox Pils, Wachusett Blueberry), other regions' regionals (Stone Arrogant Bastard, Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale, Mojo Hazed & Infused, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, Green Flash Hop Head Red, Abita Purple Haze, Blue Moon), and blah blah imports (Guinness, Pilsner Urquell, Stella, Lindemans Framboise). Oh, they have bottles, too, housed in a glass front cooler below the bar. Hadn't remembered them 'til now 'cause they really are forgettable. 2 dozen +, with Yuengling Porter being the star amongst the macros, maltos, ciders and blah imports. Good taps overall but a beat bottle scene.

"Phil, did we eat last night?" Apparently, I had a chicken fiesta fajita wrap; dealt roasted peppers, grilled onions, lettuce, and shredded cheese, the standard fajita finxins, duh. Can't say for sure but I think I enjoyed it, I am sure that I didn't not enjoy it, said sustenance (I do remember the onion rings though).

My revisit a few weeks later was for one beer and out (Ithaca 10, served in a snifter and tasty as all hell). Turns out, my notes from that night were pretty "on". Music sucked (of the bad 80's variety), beer good (the taps anyway), food yes (really, I could have done better than a chicken fiesta fajita wrap), and the crowd mostly kids (I was never this young). Still, a good option off the hill.

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Photo of madmanjf
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Stopped off here just prior to hitting the Ithaca Brewfest 2008.

Awesome selection ... can't remember exactly, but I think it was around 24 lines or so.

All micros ... nice variet and selection.

The atmosphere at the bar and around the restaurant was sleek and modern ... unsual for most beer bars so it was a welcomed change.

The food menu looked great ... I had the Stout Burger which was Excellent.

For beers I had the Hop Rod Red and Racer 5.

The bartender was a beer enthusiest. I say this because so many times in beer bars, the person pouring is clueless about beer. Kudos to the management and ownership for putting someone behind the bar that knows their stuff.

When in town, I'd def go back.

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Photo of Tbn2
3.38/5  rDev -13.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

I was visiting Ithaca for some grad classes and a few of the local students took everyone here for the Monday night twenty-five cent wing special. The draft beers were also two dollars all night long.

The beer selection was pretty good. They offered about ten or so local and regional brews on-tap and had about twenty or so in the bottle as well. The wings weren't bad and everyone seemed happy with their food.

The only problems we had were: 1.)The waitress refused to serve on of my friends because he had an out of state license. It didn't make any sense to me because I don't have a NY driver license, but they served me without question. 2.)They didn't completely split the bill up for us. There were 14 of us in our party and the only thing they did was split it halfway so it was seven and seven. We asked if it was because of the size and the response was "No, we just won't split bills." We thought this was kinda foolish because they already split the bill once, so why couldn't they do it again.

Having said all that, I would still go to this place again. The beer and food were good and the prices weren't outrageous.


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Photo of jjayjaye
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

I'd definitely recommend the Ithaca Ale House if you're in town. You can use the parking garage and walk to the commons. The bar is in front of the place as you walk in and it runs about half the length of the place. Couple of dozen seats at the bar (maybe). The left hand side are booths that go all the way back, i'd say eight or so tables past the bar. It has a nice new look with a stone motif and a classic open corrugated metal ceiling. I'm ranking the service 3.5 because i was 'barked at' as i stood at the bar reading the tap handles "there's a draft menu at the tables!"...excuse me. It wasn't very crowded. The wait staff was otherwise very attentive. 20 taps, about half InBev, but a good amount of locals including Ithaca Flower Power and Excelsior TEN!! My son was happy to hear that they offered veggie burger versions of everything on the menu. I had the Blackened Haddock Po Boy. It isn't a 'fast food' experience by any sense of the term. My plate was excellent. I plan on making it back every time i head back to Ithaca to fill up at Finger Lake Beverage Company.

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Photo of zdk9
3.59/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

Went and had a couple beers with my drinking buddy. Bartender was friendly and seemed to know quite a few people, but the clientele seemed mostly to be Cornell students. There were about 12 taps including Arrogant Bastard, Hoegardden, another Belgium lambic, a Saranac, and a Sam Adams. There was also bottled macros. On a Wednesday night there were a fair number of people there until 12 when everyone promptly left (even though it was open another hour...weird). We enjoyed the beer and watching the barside glass rinser (can you get that for a home bar?) and there was a good balance of atmosphere and beer but better places to go for both.

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The Ithaca Ale House Grill & Taproom in Ithaca, NY
3.92 out of 5 based on 31 ratings.
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