IPAbbey (Excelsior! Series) | Ithaca Beer Company

very good
33 Reviews
IPAbbey (Excelsior! Series)IPAbbey (Excelsior! Series)

Brewed by:
Ithaca Beer Company
New York, United States

Style: Belgian IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerTruth on 04-22-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 40
Photo of sulldaddy
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

sampling a cellar temp bottle aged from the 2007 release. Bottle number 1092.

Poured into a snifter, I am careful not to get any sediment on this first pour. Beer is a beautiful bright clear copper with heavy ruby highlights. Very minimal eggshell white head leaves only wispy islands almost immediately after sitting the bottle down on my desk.

The aroma is very mild at this tasting and is basically some mild grainy malt and a bit of caramel sweetness mixed with some earthy hops and a bit of grass. I bet the hops were bigger when this was first bottled.

First sip reveals an average bodied beer with very mild and spacious carbonation. The flavor is a bit of sweet malt with caramel dominant and followed by some astringent herbal, tea leaf hops. Sits a little bitter on the palate after each swallow.

No real hints of the ABV and the beer is very drinkable.

wonder if they will ever do this again?

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer review from BA Mag Aug 2007.

Part of Ithaca's new Excelsior! series of bold, hand-bottled, bottle-conditioned beers. A "Hoppy Tripel Ale" brewed with Canadian honey malt; Saaz, Simcoe and Amarillo hops; and a Trappist yeast strain. Ours is bottle #50 from the April 2007 release.

Chill-hazed (though it clears up as it warms), this beer pours a dark amber color with copper hues and a nice creamy white lacing and stick. Complex aroma of breads, herbal characters, resin, citrus flowers and light caramel, as well as a hint of ripe fruits and soap-like notes. Super-smooth and creamy on the palate. Body is firm and round, with a slight chewiness to it. Prickly bitterness strikes the palate first, then herbal and woody notes; a backhanded citric smack lingers throughout. Touch of aspirin and dry leafiness. Hop oils coat the palate with a dense resiny presence. Gets quite bready at times, with sugary notes, ripe stone fruits, blood oranges, mild toffee, dark bread crusts, a slight buttery note and burnt, earthy characters around the edges. Wood/bark notes emerge in the dry finish, with a lingering herbal flavor in the oils. The alcohol is hidden well in this one, but its warmth will indeed sneak up on you.

We love this emerging enthusiasm for hoppy and strong Belgian ale that beers like De Ranke XX and Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel have helped to put on the map. IPAbbey offers the same enjoyment and flexes qualities that Tripel and Dubbel IPA fans should no doubt enjoy. We dig it a lot.

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Photo of Minotaur
3.96/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An ale combining elements of the Belgian Triple and IPA hop quantities. This is from a 2007 bottle. Poured into a Chimay goblet.

The appearance is definitely "rustic". It is speckled with black flecks which cause a haze in the amber-brown body of the beer. There is almost no head to speak of and no real lacing. Just a tiny skim of white here and there atop the swampy water looking murk. Little to no carbonation.

Things begin to get better with the aroma: the nutty, bready sweetness of the belgian ale with an overlay of Simcoe hops: floral, citrus, sweet fruits, berries.

The taste is wholly unique. Upfront it can be intensely grapefruit bitter but there is a massive honey, caramel-malt sweetness beneath that sharp attack. There is a strange melody being played beneath the very light and not particularly deep sweetness - and the very sharp hops. Initially it almost seems disconnected, but when had with food - especially spicy food (I had this with a curry) - it begins to harmonize entirely.
Other flavors: plumb, holiday spices such as coriander and ginger, the distinctive sweetness of the honey becomes highly pronounced. There is also the characteristic Belgian flavors of yeast and sourdough bread that poke through, and seem to characterize the blend.

Post food and through out the glass the bitterness returns, nearly overtaking the sweetness. I almost feel like there are too few "mid-range" flavors The alcohol presence is now making itself known.

I am fairly well amazed at how intensely the bitterness and floral quality of the hops has been maintained through out the nearly three years of aging.

The mouthfeel on this beer is very good: smooth, liquor-like, soft despite the intense palate.

It is a very drinkable, if not bitter hop-heavy, beer.

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Photo of drseamus
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

April 2007 Bottle 056; provided by aerozeppl

A: Amber body with plenty of floaties. Great lacing.

S: Honey malt and the smell of bitterness. Some tropical fruits float around in there also.

T: Still good hoppy bitterness despite the age. Pretty amazing how well it held up.

M: Medium bodied and smooth as silk.

D: Pretty drinkability. Very smooth despite the bitterness.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

April 2007 Bottle 056

A:Hazy golden color with minimal white head. Spotty lacing. Bottom of the bottle yielded a ton of yeast sediment into my glass.

S: Honey then faded hops. Little bit of citrus as well. A touch of da funk.

T: Honey starts you off nicely. The hops are vibrant considering the age on the bottle but faded a little bit. Bitter in the finish. A touch of the belgian yeast comes across in the middle.

M: Medium bodied. The carbonation is nice and subtle.

D: Super drinkable. Held up really well for the two years on it.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my standard tulip glass. The ale appears a hazed rich apricot color with about two fingers of dense light tan foam. The head leaves a decent lace behind on the inside of my glass. Nose and flavor are of caramel, toasted cereal grain, orange, lemon peel, yeast. A notch or two better than medium bodied with ample carbonation. Worth a try.

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Photo of yesyouam
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle #742. IPAbbey is a slightly hazy solid sienna with a quickly disappearing oil-slick head. The aroma is very fresh and of bright, fruity hops. It is medium bodied and smooth. It's mostly just hops in the flavor. It's quite bitter (think citrus peel) but not over the top. It is balanced with a mild sweetness. This doesn't really seem like a Tripel to me-- I never identified any esters that I would look for in a Tripel. This just seems like a really good IPA.
(rated Jun 12, 2007)

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this bottle in a trade with Nutbrown. Thanks Alan!

Apr 07 release, bottle #1359

It pours a hazy honey gold with about an inch of foam. Lots of nice sticky lacing.

The smell is very nice with notes of caramel malt, candy sugar, and a strong hop nose of citrus and some other fruits.

The taste starts with a nice burst of citrus hop bitterness that's quickly tempered by caramel malt sweetness and honey malt that is just plain yummy. Further sips and I see that not all of the sweetness comes from the caramel and honey as I get lots of candy sugar. There's some fruit thrown in there, not literally mind you, I sense some light banana and apricots. A little spice here as well as I can just taste a touch of cloves.

The mouthfeel is medium, the carbonation is very light(the lightest of hisses when I opened the bottle), and it finishes with a perfect balance of sweet and bitter.

Drinkability? Man this goes down easy for a 9%abv brew.

Bottom line: MMmmmm. Delicious.

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Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Honey yeasted Belgian IPA. A good example of this new style. Though the honey yeast contributes to mouth texture, is it necessay? It moderates the IPA bitterness and overall a good balnce, integration of ideas. Worth seeking out, and a game changer for this brewery.Simcoe, Amarillo, and Saaz, and Trappist Ale Yeast. Good drinkability.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been sitting on this bottle for probably far too long but it held up well.

Poured into the goblet a nice copper color. Fairly translucent but just enough color to make it difficult to see through. White head that dissolved to a thin veneer around the edges of the glass. Nose is candied sugars, some sweet cherries, and plenty of malt.

Flavor is spot on for a tripel. Nice alcohol burn makes this a perfect after dinner sipping drink. Very sweet with a strong woody flavor that balances it off. Some sprucey hops that give just enough tang. Sweet beginning with a nice bittery finish. Light mouthfeel with some pleasant heat from the alcohol.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received this along with the rest of the 07 Excelsior series in a trade last month and have decided to start working my way through them to see how they stack up. I was most excited to try this as I am a big fan of the IPA and wanted to see how an American brewer would do at a Belgian IPA. Served this 750 ML wrapped and capped bottle into an over sized wine glass.

Appearance - The pour was very nice, with a very cloudy and hazy bright amber colored liquid coming out right away to splash into the bottom of the glass. A very nice three inch high layer of foam then came over the top and gradually settled down into a thin layer, but still hung on around a half an inch throughout the remainder of the session. Some nice cratering and rocky looking appearance to the head was evident. Lots of carbonation streaking up toward the surface throughout and a good bit of side glass left in its place. Overall a very nice and very solid look from this one.

Smell - The aroma was an interesting blend of classic IPA bitterness and a yeast filled Belgian single. Very light in both regards with hints of orange, lemon grass, banana and light apricot all easily picked up. It seemed that the warmed it got the more it leaned toward the IPA side, with a more pronounced citrus smell coming forward and the grapefruit really starting to dominate the overall aroma, Still very nicely down in both regards with lots of cereal malts and bread like aromas making up the back end and the base on this one.

Taste - The flavor followed the taste almost perfectly. It had a nice initial bite of citrus, grapefruit like hops, but this was blended out quickly by the flavor a apricot, and cereal grains. Nice mixture here, as most Belgian IPA's are. I was surprised to see how well this followed along with the Belgian side of things as opposed to really turning over into an American IPA. Nice strong finish with a good bit of drying and a nice touch of bitter to cap it off.

Mouthfeel - An excellent Mouthfeel on this one overall. Rich and creamy and smooth with almost perfect carbonation, I really thought this came off excellent. A nice light refreshing follow through really capped it off perfectly.

Drinkability - For a 9% beer, you could not really taste anything of it at all. Smooth as silk going down, I was easily able to sip on this one with no issues, occasional coming in and scooping up a bigger sip.

Overall an excellent Belgian inspired beer, I was very impressed with this one overall. I thought they did an excellent job at staying true to the style and to keep the overall hop character intact. If you can find this one I would definitely go out and get it.

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Photo of riversider76
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a amber gold,with some orange hues. Looks thick,with a thin white head,and nice lacing. Aroma is of sweet fruits,with a bit of pine,and grapefruit. Body is thick,and silky. Taste is an almost perfect balance of malts,and hops. Sweet dark fruits,with a rum like flavor,and a hoppy finish. Excellent!

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Photo of GFSchwab
4.55/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was such dooozey.

It was poured out of its glass bottle with refermentation all over the place. There was even spent yeast around the mouth of ther bottle.

It poured a translucent dark amber color with very minimal head and solid lacing around the miniscus of the beer glass I was drinking it from.

The smell was quite hoppy, however greatly accented with generouis ammounts of belgian malts.

The taste was outstanding, with an enormous malt profilwe to accompany the rich citrusy hop flavor, with a blanced malty/bitter cloying on the aftertaste. The full compliment of the beer lingers long after swallowing it.

Although it was quite high in alcohol, and very hoppy, it went down quite easy and was medium in overall body.

I have to say for my first "Belgian IPA" it was quite nice.
Such a great, great beer.

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Photo of Deuane
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Released 4/07 Bottle #1310

A-Hazy deep copper with a nice medium tan head

S-Very floral with a nice pungent citrus hop kick. A bit of sweet maltiness and "belgian funkiness" comes thru

T-Quite hoppy with the kick of citrusly hops. Overall a nice hop flavor with that unique Belgian yeast flavor coming thru at the end.

M-Solid with crisp hopiness and a lovely malty goodness supporting. A very solid brew.

D-A very interesting beer...I am quickly becoming a big fan of "Belgian IPA's" This one is a solid example.

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Photo of jackorain
3.81/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle with a nice green label, attactive. Label says "Release Date: APR-07" and "Bottle #1896"

A-ligth brown and murky. Not much head from agressive pour. Poor retention. Some sheeting, leggy lace. There was a brown scum around the inside of the mouth of the bottle. It almost looked like it was laid down at some point. But I di purchase it at the brewery and it was standing up at that time.

S-big hoppy aroma, simcoe is here for sure. Grapefruit and pine. Yeastiness is present in the middle. Caramel malts show through as well,

T-This beer is hoppy, big pine and grapefruit, caramel mlats and frutiness certainly don't balance out these hops. Lemony, sour and grapefruit bitter finish. A little dry too. Not too much yeast here in the flavor. I diod expect a little more funk like Houblin Chouffe

M-medium body, nice even carbonation

D-its okay, I'll let it go after splitingone with my wife over spicy chinese. Paired well with that though.

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Photo of brentk56
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 1136

Appearance: Pours a murky amber with very little head despite an increasingly hard pour; surprisingly manages to leave some lace, however

Smell: Mostly caramel malt with just a hint of piney hops

Taste: Opens with a caramel base flavor, more like an amber ale; by mid-palate, some earthy and woody flavors arrive, moving this into English IPA or ESB territory; after the swallow, it gets fruitier, with stone fruit and earthy pine flavors

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with low carbonation

Drinkability: Mighty bizarre beer; I'm not getting anything Belgian out of this, but I do like the way it tastes

Thanks, BeerTruth, for the opportunity

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Photo of HombreWing
5/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Released Apr 07 Bottle 123

Eyes: Red into russet color. Bright...clear. Pours beautiful tan head. Bubbles galore.

Nose: Some caramel Malt...spicy yeast and grassy, herbal hops that are very present.

Tongue: Malty....Bos Keun malty with herbal hoppy finish

Texture: Full bodied ...smooth

Overall experience: I had this one bottle that I have been holding since May 07. If I wasn't with friends tonight when I opened it, I would have hidden myself away til I finished it off myself. I should give it a 5 total. Better than Belgian IPA's from Belgium ! Even if Ithaca makes it again next year there is no guarantee they get it this right again !

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.03/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(Bottle #1788 - APR 07)

Appearance: Pours a hazy coppy body with a thin, short-lived off-white head.

Smell: The heavy hop aroma of apricot, citrus, and pine is evidence of the bitterness that awaits. A bit boozy, too.

Taste: A light, short-lived taste of caramel offers almost no sweetness and quickly dissolves into flavors of apricot, grapefruit, and resinous pine with an assertive bitterness. Minor hint of Belgian yeast. There's a light acidity on the highly bitter finish. The alcohol is quite evident.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Mild carbonation. Slighty syrupy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Tough to finish. The domineering IPA characteristics really squash it's nobler Belgian side leaving it a bit of a fiasco.

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Photo of Kendo
4.29/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle # 572, bottled in April of 2007.

A: Poured into a Duvel tulip. Body is murky copperish amber with lots of sediment/floaties. A small ivory head disappears quickly. Only minimal splotches of lacing.

S: I think "instant c-hops on the nose" -- grapefruit and tropical fruits waft up from the glass before I even pick it up. Upon closer inspection there's some alcohol as well. Smells nice.

T: Caramel malt base then hops -- like the nose, there's grapefruity hops with tropical fruit (papaya or mango). Feels sticky and juicy, but a dry, lemony taste lingers and cuts through the sweetness, leaving a nice dry bitter aftertaste. Alcohol is noted, more so as it warms, and that familiar warm feeling in the belly is evident right away.

M: Sticky and juicy in feel, medium to full-bodied in heft.

D: Pretty good for a beer with this much booze. That dry hoppy bitterness really cuts the sweet fruit and encourages another sip.

Notes: I wrote "very fruity" at one point. I'm not sure if that flavor was from the American-style hops or the Belgian-style yeast -- or some combination of the two. I thought this beer worked pretty well, though at these prices (I think I paid $8.99 at a Consumers in Erie County back in July), even if this were a regular offering from Ithaca, I probably wouldn't buy it all that often. . . .

Thanks to MRMOJORISIN for his hospitality -- and raided beer cellar -- on Saturday night. . . .

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Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.4/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle. Poured into a goblet.

Nice looking beer. Nice amber color with good looking white head.

Smells of thick bready malt and simcoe hops. Unmistakable. Taste is again nice and bready and thick, and laced with simcoes. Unfortunate that they felt the need to hop this up as much as they did. I would think it more of a DIPA than anything resembling a Belgian style.

Big body on this one. You can really feel the thickness. Not entirely unpleasant, though I was hoping for something else. Drinkable yes, but I wouldn't share another and probably won't seek this one out again.

I didn't get anything resembling a tripel from this, but a fairly decent DIPA.

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Photo of number1bum
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BeerTruth for this one.

Pours a hazy orange copper color that struggles to produce much of any head. About one finger of head eventually builds with a very aggressive pour but it's bubbly and recedes quickly leaving nary a trace. Lots of bubbles, as well.

Smell is earthy and bready with some citrus hops and a bit of sweet caramel malt. There's also some belgian yeast in there, and the nose is also quite boozy.

Taste has a hop bitterness to it that hits you up front and stays throughout. It's not overpowering at all, and there's enough bready and sweet caramel malt flavor to balance it out. Some citrus hop flavor sneaks in toward the finish and the finish is quite dry with lots of hop resins coating the palate. Not much alcohol in the taste although it comes out in the nose.

Mouthfeel is very creamy, and the brew is quite smooth. Interesting and pretty complex but it's not spectacular. Definitely worth a try though and I'd have it again if I happened upon it.

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Photo of djamieson
4.55/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up at the brewery in Ithaca and enjoyed it during a rainstorm while camping at nearby Buttermilk Falls. Since we were drinking out of the bottle, as is the only way around the campfire, appearance is not applicable. The aroma was consistent with the proclamation on the bottle as a Belgian abbey ale with a ton of hops. As a hophead with some solid experience living and drinking in Belgium, this beer knocked my socks off. The strength (ABV) and malt sweetness point to a tripel all the way, balanced near perfection with heaps of NY state greenery, this should brighten anyones soggy campout. Big up to Ithaca on this Masterpiece.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Peachy hazy cloudy pour with a settled head cap with a scant coating leaving zero lace.

Bright peach and apricot nose over waffle malt scent leaving behind some green melon aromas.

First swigs: Peach hops front over meringue flavor. Light playful body and spicy hints of cardomon and orange peel. Mix of light spice and peach sherbert pale malt?

Feel is subtle bubble fwisk ginger ale. The 9.0% ABV is completely totally hidden.

Last swigs: Sherbert and pale malt waffle ease. Well done Belgian pale. An easy version of Houblon Chouffe.

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Photo of WesWes
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a hazy amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is excellent. It has a wonderful hop aroma that really stands out. It also has a solid malt bill of mostly pale and light crystal malts. It's well balanced with a slight Belgian yeast fruitiness in the back. The taste is good also. It is extremely bitter from start to finish. This is one damn hoppy beer. It goes down easy with a hefty malt bill and finishes smooth with a yeast feel. It's not dry like some IPAs. It's a bit sweet and fruity at the end, although it's hard to tell with all the hops. The mouthfeel is great. It's a full bodied beer with just the right amount of carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. It's a lot more IPA than Abbey, but it drinks well and has awesome hop character. Cheers!

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Photo of shirfan
3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle number.... 666.

Bright orange-copper with a thin layer of very fine lace. Crystal clear at first, lightly cloudy with some chunks after a swirl-n-pour.

Aroma of tangerines, fresh bagels, and a hint of saltwater air.

Taste is complex yet soft and almost even understated until a delayed floral and leafy hop bitterness sets in from the IPA side of this creation. Not especially estery, but there is a bit of sweet tangerine and perhaps honey flavor floating around.

A good brew to be sure, but I think the belgian influence could be stronger. As it is, the IPA is bigger than the Abbey.

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IPAbbey (Excelsior! Series) from Ithaca Beer Company
3.96 out of 5 based on 40 ratings.
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