Old Habit
Ithaca Beer Company

Old HabitOld Habit
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Rye Beer
4.01 | pDev: 16.46%
Ithaca Beer Company
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Old HabitOld Habit
Notes: A Robust American Ale brewed with four different Rye Malts, fresh Centennial and Crystal Hops and our proprietary Ale Yeast. It is partly fermented in Tennesee Rye Whiskey Barrels, then carefully blended. Enjoy the gorgeous ruby color, strong aromas of vanilla and black cherry, earthy flavors of nuts and oak and the warm spicy finish.
Reviews: 117 | Ratings: 164 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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utopiajane from New York

4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer poured a murky dark brown with a thin loose head of foam that fell before I even picked up the glass. Nose is lovely. Mellow and spicy rye. Deep but not too bold. A light airy wood and a modest sweet whiskey. Dry dark fruit like raisins, nuts and a touch of expansive malt sweetness like toffee and caramel. A fragrant bit of vanilla and I can't wait to taste this. Taste is lovely. Spicy rye that has become modest with a bit of age and from the oak barrel. Deep and tall rye flavor that is not unbounded like most rye ales but rather proper and containing all it's loveliness so that you can have it but so that it does not overrun the other flavors. A touch of smooth vanilla and airy wood. A surprise in some brilliant tart cherry. The cherry really enlivens the palate and lets you taste all the malt sweetness by contrast. The mouthfeel is surprisingly light with some tiny prickly bubbles in the finish. A small warming form the alcohol Smooth and very mellow. This one awesome beer.

Apr 26, 2014
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Chickenhawk9932 from Pennsylvania

4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a coffee colored head that quickly dissipates.

Smells of dark fruit - grape, wine and oak. Also get whiskey, bright fruity hops, and floral notes.

This a rich complex brew full of big flavor. Starts with oak red wine and whiskey then works around to citrus and resinous hop punch kept lively by a heavy carbonation. Notes of raisin and plum, spicy rye and apple linger in the long dry finish with a hint of chewy malt - slightly butterscotchy.

Nov 06, 2013
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rlee1390 from Indiana

3.96/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A-Deep brown when pouring, one finger deep tan head that doesn't last long.

S-Whiskey barrels, vanilla, rye and oak.

T-Starts with rye spiceness and bourbon notes, caramel, chocolate and vanilla as well. It is missing something to give it lasting flavor.

M-Medium bodied, tad watery, little to no carbonation.

O-The finish was lacing, but the beer itself was worth a try.

Oct 08, 2013
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brydeen from Minnesota

3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed as part of Blind BIF round 8

A: Pours a very murky brown, with very bubbly, but surprisingly thin off white head. Dissipates quickly, except for a thin stubborn layer.

S: A light tartness up front, quickly enveloped by a smooth sweetness. Caramel, toffee, and vanilla present. I'm thinking barrel aged, likely whiskey. A slight char aroma too. Intriguing.

T: Rich toffee, and slightly buttery. Reminiscent of a werther's hard candy. The slightest tartness on the back of the tongue in the aftertaste. Almost like apple cider, with light spices. Apple brandy maybe? Consider me perplexed.

M: Surprisingly smoother than expected, and medium to full bodied. Really creamy, but over carbonation is its downfall. Alcohol is hidden very well.

O: Jekyll & Hyde between the smell and taste. The tartness in the nose is very prominent, but very subdued in the taste. It's tasty, but just a little muddled

Jul 09, 2013
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suspect from New York

4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into an Excelsior Tulip.

A: Reddish brown color. Mild pour leads to a fizzy two finger khaki colored head that dissipates pretty quickly. Lacing is spotty but present.

S: Nose full of rye malts and whiskey. Some funk is present as well but I have no idea where that comes from. Fruity notes as well in the form of cherry and boysenberry.

T: Very malt-forward with fruity notes as listed above along with some nuttiness, vanilla and whiskey.

M: Creamy smooth which is odd considering how quickly the fizz faded. Alcohol burn on the end of the sip...at the very end. And the burn lingers a bit as well, in a nice way, like a good bourbon.

O: This is an excellent beer that gets better as it warms. I will definitely seek out another.

Jul 06, 2013
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Bernie666 from New York

4.66/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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!

Jun 16, 2013
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atr2605 from New York

4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-pours a very deep amber with a tan head that fades and leaves a nice lacing
S-oak and cherry with some dark fruit
T-cherries and plums mixed with the spiciness and vanilla flavor of the oak barrels, finishes with some citrus
M-medium-full bodied, smooth and creamy
O-Really smooth and complex beer. Extremely well crafted

May 17, 2013
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mltobin from Connecticut

3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shared a bottle with a few friends. Old Habit pours a dark reddish-orange color with a small head. The nose contains brown sugar, oak, cherry and rye. A very interesting beer so far and we have not even gotten to the taste ! Taste has spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla, along with plums, cherries and roasted malts. Mouthfeel is medium, some carbonation. The finish is a tad bitter, but still pleasant. Overall, a unique beer done well that I was glad to have had the opportunity to try.

Aug 23, 2012
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rudzud from Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A thanks to JLindros for sharing this bottle. 2008 Vintage (infected). Reviewed from notes.

A - Poured a ruddy cloudy garnet hue with a nice three finger head with tons of side lacing.

S - Aromas of barrel and sour/funk infection. Yep, this 2008 batch is definitely infected but smells nice and tasty. Almost like a funky lambic.

T - Sharp bitterness and slight metallic taste with light funky flavours. Off funk, as opposed to barnyard funk. There is slight rye and cherries but mostly just infection.

M - Mouthfeel isnt all that bad but there is more of that sharp, metallic feel and taste that lingers.

O - Overall this isnt that bad considering its infected. It makes for an interesting brew.

Jun 19, 2012
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billab914 from Virginia

2.51/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Batch E!017. Poured from a 750ml bottle into my CBS snifter. It poured a murky dark brown color with a thick, foamy head filling the top two inches of the glass.

The aroma shows a lot of sour, tart cherry flavors to it. I get a little bit of a malty, caramely like flavor trying to peek through but the sour and tart flavors are a little overwhelming.

The taste also has a sour, tart cherry presence throughout the flavor. Towards the finish some of the malty, rye and woody oak flavors try and come out.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and carbonation is high. Overall I didn't find it that great of a beer. The sourness wasn't that bad tasting, but it overshadowed everything else in it. It wasn't an awful beer if you think of it as an American Wild, but it still wasn't that enjoyable beer overall.

Nov 12, 2011
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SFLpunk from Vermont

3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL brown glass pry-top bottle. E!017.

This bottle has been laying down in my fridge for a week or two and when I opened it there was a lot of brown sludge inside the cap...

Pours with huge head, dark brown/black body. Nose smells of champagne yeast and whiskey barrels. Palate is medium bodied and slick with deep dank malts and smokey, spicy whiskey and toasted oak notes.

Notes: The mouthfeel suffers due to what seems like over carbonation in the bottle. Tasty beer, but not my favorite. A little worried by the sludge, but glad to try it though.

Aug 03, 2011
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mikesgroove from South Carolina

4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

brown with a huge tan head on top. Slow receding left tons of lacing down the sides of the glass and really gave it a very nice and very complete look. Aroma is huge, lots of spice at first, caramel, molasses, hints of brown sugar and earth, deep hops. Warming brings out some touches of dark fig like fruit notes but nothing like that warm rye touch that really adds to it. As I take the first sip a really wave of caramel and light peppery rye hit the tongue. Light notes of chocolate that come over it wave after wave. Really quite complex and I have to admit not at all what I was expecting. Still very well done.

Jul 14, 2011
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mikereaser from Pennsylvania

3.82/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured on 7/6/11

A - Pours a murky dark brown with an overflowing amount of off-white foam that slowly faded. There is alot of wet lacing down the glass.
S - i'm picking up some chocolate, caramel and an overall sour type aroma. Eventhough this is supposedly infected, and it seems like its heading that way, i like the aroma
T - Oak, raisins and plums, chocolate and caramel, There is a bit of sourness to it, but not as infected as I was expecting. Very malty, some butterscotch as well. There is alot of flavor going on in this beer.
M - Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. There is a syrupy type feeling
D - not bad at all, I don't think I could sit down and have many, but its very enjoyable


Jul 06, 2011
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aasher from Indiana

4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark maple syrup brown in color with a soft and spongy two finger beige head. It was very thick and viscous. It smells of plums, dark sweet malts, and has a faint whiskey aroma. The flavors are of oaky chocolate, light coffee, and a light whiskey finish. It's really nice and complex and better than anticipated. It drinks nice and smoothly, like its had a year to mellow. The complexity is really enjoyable. I've thoroughly enjoyed this beer and was glad I could share it.

Jun 19, 2011
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THECPJ from Delaware

3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: dark copper red with a 2 finger head

smell: rye, spices, dark fruits,

taste: sour cherries, rye, spices,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: an interesting rye beer for sure. but glad I got to sample this before it's all gone.


May 23, 2011
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bamadog from Ohio

3.66/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I bought this bottle some time ago, and then like the next day, word hit that the batch (E017!) was likely infected. Definitely infected, judging by the gusher that I got when I cracked it, but I can't say I'm necessarily disappointed by this, as it could still be awesome. Review is from notes taken on 3/29/2011 and poured from the bottle to a goblet.

Appearance: As mentioned, definite and total gusher, took a while to get it out of the bottle, but I managed to pull it off. Pour is a dark mahogany/ruby color; body is dark and very murky, shows a lot of chunks settling in at the bottom; starts with a big 3 finger light tan foamy head that fades relatively slowly to a full and uneven, thick cap with plenty of thick webs of lacing left behind on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Got a funk a to it, comes across sour tartness, like brett; bit of an alcoholic phenol scent behind the tartness; as it continues to warm the sweet caramel malts start to sneak out; the funkiness really

Taste: Easily the maltiest beer with this tartness that I have ever tasted -- an interested blend of the sour tart/lactic tart comes along with a TON of caramel/butterscotch maltiness; bit of a rye seed and bready flavor behind all of the sweet malts; bit of an alcohol in the end that melds quite well with the rye, caramel and funk. See, this really worked out with the infection... Makes me wonder if Ithaca actually planned this... JK, but it'd be awesome if they did.

Mouthfeel: Body is of medium weight and comes across quite dry in the end; aptly carbonated, probably partially because of the infection, it comes across as soft and foamy/smooth; a pretty dry film is left on the roof of the mouth; belly is left a little warm from the acidity and slightly higher ABV of 9%.

Overall: It works for me, and I wouldn't mind picking up at least another to put it away for another year or so to see what continues to happen to it. Great flavors that came out just fine with the infection and everything. The ABV may be a bit of a factor, and I'm definitely feeling it by the end of the 750, but it's doable.

Mar 30, 2011
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claspada from New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The dreaded batch E017! Ooh I'm scared; pause, not! Because I am not an idiot, I put this in the fridge for a day and then the freezer for 20 minutes and I was able to open and pour the whole 750 into a large glass with no effort or rushing to avoid the gusher effect. Anyway...
Aromas of sour cherry and a tad bit of spicy funkiness. Lesser amounts of bready rye and bitter grapefruity pine. All except the sour cherry are fairly muted however.
The taste is still delicious despite the "infection" as many report. Begins as the nose did, but with a mellow sour cherry, then dates, figs, vinous, purple grape flavors, the rye and malt quickly support the initial sourness adding a pleasant rye/biscuity breadiness. Amazingly this beer is balanced superbly between the funk and malt; hops aren't a factor which is a good thing. As it warms the funk continues to subside and the thick delicious bready rye maltiness takes center stage; even a bit of brown sugar dark maltiness. If this is a "disaster" as many have called it, may every beer I ever have from now on be a disaster. Carbonation is obviously high which I enjoy over under-carbonated syrupy high ABV brews.
Also, FYI, I normally distaste sour beers and I am thoroughly enjoying this. Wow this has held up amazingly and thanks to sites like BeerAdvocate.com I was able to properly "prepare" this beer for consumption. I had been searching for this for what seemed like forever and found it at my new favorite store New Beer Distributors in Manhattan and was cautiously optimistic because it was the "infected batch" but purchased it anyway and I am glad. This is delicious. Ithaca's Excelsior series have all been superb.

Mar 27, 2011
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zoolzoo from Connecticut

1.84/5  rDev -54.1%
look: 1 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Batch E!017, oh no!

Once uncapped the bottle erupts like a volcano all over my counter and floor. This is one of the worst gushers I have ever seen. In fact, its still oozing over in my kitchen sink, AFTER a pour. I wonder if this is infected?

Alright, now that I mopped the floor lets see what we have here. Pours a turbid brown, big hazelnut head. Mouthfeel is way off, over carbed as expected. The aroma is sort of musty basement, dirt, a sour note, and a hint of whiskey.

The taste isn't totally rotten, but considering what this beer could have been its terrible. Think of a fucked up, muddled Flanders aged in whiskey barrels. Drinkability? Drain pour.

Maybe next time...

Mar 08, 2011
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JimLetson from New York

4.21/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL from batch E!017 poured into my tulip. I vented it and it looked okay, so I pulled the cap off, at which point about half the bottle blew out. Still smelled okay, though, so I went ahead and drank it.

Appearance - well, the first glass was mostly head. After that died down a bit, I poured some actual beer in, and it looks nice. A really deep garnet colour. The head is pinkish-brown and silky smooth. Takes forever to go down, and it sticks to the side in a really beautiful pattern. It's a great-looking beer.

Smell - up front, it's mostly sour cherry and a little raisin. It reminds me of Duchesse de Bourgogne. A different kind of sweetness comes through in the second whiff, along with spicy odours; I can only assume this is from the rye in the beer and the rye whiskey barrels it was aged in. I'm not super-familiar with how rye whiskey smells and tastes, so forgive me if what I think is rye has, in fact, nothing to do with it. In any event, the beer looks nice, and also smells nice.

Taste - complex. The sour cherry in the smell definitely comes through in the taste, but the first thing I taste is spice, presumably from the rye. The aftertaste again reminds me of a Flanders Red more than anything else. Next sip is more whiskey than anything else, though I do taste just a little hop bitterness. Not much, just enough to balance out the sweetness and spiciness. It's really a good balance.

Mouthfeel - I don't know if this is because so much of the carbonation blew off when I opened the bottle, but damn, this is smooth! What bubbles there are are tiny, and they don't leave any sort of prickly feeling on my palate.

Drinkability - I imagine it would be difficult for me to polish the bottle off myself if half of it hadn't gone on the floor or down the drain. Also, the mass of flavours mean that a glass or two will be enough for an evening. My taste buds have been exercised plenty for one day, thanks. Highly delicious, but not especially repeatable more than twice.

Despite the gushing, this was a really good beer. I wish I could get some more, except I bought my bottle shop out. Perhaps next time. If you can get it, I highly recommend it.

Feb 16, 2011
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ThePorterSorter from Oregon

4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was expecting a completely different beer with a typical rye ale/ipa. I am surprised, excited by the mystery of this dark beverage, and awaiting what will unfold.

Beer bursting out as soon as I start the opening process, even after letting the beer cool off in the fridge. A dark mahogany brown poured from within, which was my first indication that this was no typical rye-P-A. Pouring the beer into my tulip produces an image identical to the pictures I found online. A light tan head of approximately one cm is left behind after 3 inches worth of initial over-carbonation floated off. The beer looks delightful.
After letting the beer settle, there is a healthy amount of yeast sediment in the bottom of my glass.

Rich caramel wood sugars with a sour acetone and alcohol pushing closely behind. I am reminded of beers such as immort ale and a less potent Raison d'extra. Notes of coffee, raisin and prune, probably best summarized by dried fruits and smoked wood. What an intense richness.

Tremendous beer. I am as so pleased by the balance, body, and complexity of this beer. Robust wood caramel followed by fresh cream and coffee. A slight bitterness that builds on the palate, but perfect for a sipper. A buttery warmth from the barrel comes in strong as the beer begins to warm, I may even make some popcorn now that I'm in the mood...

Rich, delightful, decadent, all the things a $12 bottle is expected to offer.

Rich and flavorful. There are a lot of dark notes, but also a desired creaminess to make the beer seem lighter in body. I have not encountered a beer this dark with as much aeration and fluffiness; a close comparison being a coffee porter/stout.

There is no reason you couldn't chug this beer down or sip and analyze. I have never had a rye beer of this caliber and definitely am impressed by the flavor and body it has to offer. I honestly think you would be hard pressed to find a beer with as much character as this one for only $12/750mL. Enjoy with a friend and drink responsibly (because the 9%abv will sneak upon you!).

Feb 12, 2011
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mdfb79 from New York

4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/21/11 notes.

a - Pours a mahogany color with one inch of white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sour fruits, sour cherries, dark fruit, light lactic.

t - Tastes of spices, sour fruit, cherries, dark fruits, and fruity malts.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

d - I enjoyed this one a lot, though it seemed more like a quad to me. Lots of cherries in it; would like to have again.

Jan 28, 2011
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karenp from Pennsylvania

4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch #E!017

A. Fine mahogany burgundy color. Didn't gush at all, but when pouring into our pitcher, filled it half-way with head. Nice, and of course thick yeast sediment to do with what you like. Head once decanted is minimal.

S. This is why you buy beers that smell. This smells of whiskey, wine and sherry. Surprise:) It smells exactly as it supposed to: deep, dark, smokey and...have you ever smelled whiskey?

T: of course, changes alot with age. Needs warmth to come out. It tastes like the wine dark sea of a smoky yeast rich beer. Infected? Not sure if that means infected with wild yeast or some other bug. I don't detect much Brett. Alcohol not too evident, even though it's 9%. Again, whiskey dominant. Not sure if I can taste rye.

m. Not sure what mouthfeel means: certainly no problem as long as you are expecting feels rich yet clean, meaning no syrupiness. Light carbonation remains after 20 mins. in glass.

d. Well, I would only drink a beer like this on special occasions. It's 9%, and very intense. So enjoy knowing this is a totally drinkable whiskey soaked ale.

Jan 27, 2011
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Lothore from California

2.74/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A- As others have stated, this one is a gusher. I opened it in the sink and it quickly gushed out as i poured it into my glass. Very cloudy, murky brown color with a huge, tan head.

S- Dark fruit, toffee, raisin and a lingering funky sweetness that worries me.

T- Bold whiskey notes, dark fruit, raisin, brown sugar and a tart cherry finish. The cherry is very possibly an infection and it just throws the balance out of whack. Either my bottle wasn't at the stage of the last two reviews or the infection hasnt nearly taken hold as much but it is still there, lingering.

M- Thick with lots and lots of carbonation.

D- This is not entirely undrinkable in it's current state however it looks like sour cherry notes are pushing it there and it's not nearly the beer it is supposed to be. I wasn't able to finish my glass and drainpoured the rest of the bottle. Worth a shot I suppose.

Jan 24, 2011
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brewdlyhooked13 from Ohio

1.11/5  rDev -72.3%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Yikes, the last few reviews of this note significant infection issues. This is batch E!017, I guess we'll find out how well QC did their job...

Appearance - just cracking the cap enough to let the first whisper of carbonation out starts a foam plug climbing the neck of the bottle. Yep - a slow foamer. Probably a fast foamer if I pop the cap off now. With the bottle opener, I let out the carbonation slowly, over the sink, and maybe an ounce or two collects in a teacup. I pour it carefully into a tall glass, but the foam is insistent. First two fingers, now three and four rising up over the glass and coning. The beer is a deep reddish color that is absolutely churning within. Nice color, but everything about this lets me know this beer is infected.

Aroma - I don't know if it is Brett specifically, but it totally dominates the nose outside of some background woodiness.

Taste - in the interest of beer science, documentation, and posterity, I drink. I do actually get the beginnings of some sweet malt and some vapory notes of oak and whiskey, but the rogue critters take it from there. Funky, dry, and astringent, the rest of the taste experience is a bust. I'm trying this 4, 5, 6 times, and it's getting harder each time. The only positive is a pleasant belly warmth into the finish. Not enough to save this one, though. It's too bad, too. Money's tight and money spent on infected beer hurts.

Mouthfeel - the beer has a nice smoothness, but the rampant carbonation is spoiling more than just the flavor.

Drinkability - even in this state, I can tell this beer has the potential to be a fine bottle of suds. I get glimpses of what the malt and barrel are attempting. It's all the more disappointing that it's undrinkable.

Jan 12, 2011
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davod23 from California

1.43/5  rDev -64.3%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Well, that's a downer.

Bottle opens and begins a slow gush. Damn it. I quickly pour it into my Bruery tulip. It's a reddish brown color, pour is pretty thin. The clarity is okay, big tannish head.

Aroma is off, as expected from the gush. It's not terribly pungent, but what there is indicates infection. Dirt, minerals, a vague sour cherry. It smells a bit funky as well, a bit of dryer sheet.

Taste is bad. It's not the worst thing I've ever had, but it's close. Obviously nowhere near the mark. Sour cherry, rotten flowers.

Thin mouthfeel, long unpleasant finish.

Drainpoured it after 2oz. Brewing fail.

Jan 11, 2011
Old Habit from Ithaca Beer Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 164 ratings