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
Reviews by WesWes:
Photo of WesWes
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark amber/brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a tremendous rye malt scent along with the "black cherry" aroma the bottle speaks of. The whiskey presence is there in the nose. The taste is good. It has a spicy rye flavor that goes down light and finishes warm and oakey with a nice whiskey-ish feel. It's a lot lighter than it looks. It's medium/full bodied with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking beer. It's lighter than a barleywine, but packs as big a punch.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Brent
2.3/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Perhaps my bottle was not a good representation of the overall production of this beer, but I found it unpleasantly sour and harsh, more like a poorly-executed wild ale, although I don't believe we are dealing with an infection. The only beer that was a drain-pour during a BA gathering.

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

A beer I have been looking forward to trying since it came out,poured into an impy pint glass a deep mahogany brown with a slight chill haze to it a pillowy one finger almond colored head atop with good retention.Complexity the word to describe not only the nose but flavors of this beer,at first I picked up juicy fruity malt aromas like orange with brown sugar sweetness the hops are subdued but do provide some floral character.I would say malt tilted but hops are there on the palate the whiskey barrel aging shows itself with some real vanilla/oak sweetness along with a chocolate covered nut quality the rye is actually somewhat irrelevent just a very slight lactic-like bite.The complexity of this beer gives high marks sure Iam a hophead and was expecting maybe more of a hop profile but its a damn good beer,the creamy mouthfeel is to die for.A "nice" beer here it is well crafted.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.44/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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!!

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
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.

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Photo of weeare138
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to TomDecapolis for opening this. Bottle # 359...
Appears a dark chestnut color with a small, light tan head that slowly fades into a creamy head of film and a frothy collar.
Smell is of cherry pie, hazlenut, vanilla, cola, and earthy hops.
Taste is of the mentioned aromaswith a hint of booziness found in there, along with fruity candy ala gummy bears.
Mouthfeel is smooth, with raspberries, and cocoa syrup swirling along the palate. Light astringency keeps this one from being great but it's good, nonetheless.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Im sampling a June 2007 bottle # 950 at cellar temp poured into a snifter.
The beer pours a clear deep amber hue with bright ruby highlights. A fine fizzy beige head foams up minimally and fades to a clingy edge layer rapidly.
Aroma is malty with some caramel and toffee, but hits hard with sweet vanilla and brown sugar. There is a bit of bready scent mixed in too, but faint.
First sip reveals an average body and fine tingly carbonation. The flavor is sweet vanilla and toffee up front, rolls to just a bit of herbal rye, and finishes with a bit of dry wooden oak and some general booziness. Not a hot finish, just that general "wow this is a stonrg beer" flavor.
Hurts the drinkability a little bit, but overall it is well made, just a bit of a sipper, I actually wish I had someone to split my 750 with.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, batch E!017.

Pours murky, dark amber with an inch-plus head of dense bone. Plenty of lacing and a solid skim coat for the duration as well.

Aromatics are loaded with whiskey, grape jam, plums, and juicy malt. Vanilla, oak, hazelnut and a hint of smoke follows through.

On the fuller side of medium bodied. The carbonation is a bit expansive and prickly, which allows it to cut through some of the sticky, thickish mouthfeel.

Grape jam, plump malt, caramel, figs, raisins, and whiskey start the palate. A solid booziness sets up shop and stays for the duration. Tasting quite fresh and juicy with plenty of whiskey kick and quad character.

Finishes with lingering whiskey, plums, jam, raisins, and sweet malt.

Great beer! My only gripe is that the crown cap is a 13mm and I can't reseal the bottle to enjoy the rest tomorrow. Oh well, the sacrifices my liver does make.

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

A 750 mL bottle of Batch E!007 purchased at Sam the Beer Man in Binghamton. This is review #1500.

A: The beer is deep brown, looking remarkably like a loaf of rye bread. Brighter orange highlights are evident throughout the ale. A thick head resulted on the first pour and a dense patch of lace has resulted.

S: Soft bourbon notes, vanilla, pepper and corn, dominate the nose. Soft and dominate don't contradict themselves, I promise. Bready, dark rye does manage to sneak past the bourbon.

T: The nose intimates an intense bourbon flavor but the taste is slow to deliver, very slow. Bready rye with mere hints of bourbon greeted me, not the full-on whiskey flavor that i was expecting. The back-end of the sip brings out the full sweet bourbon flavors. In between, the rye and bourbon battle, Mortal Kombat-style, for domination and the results are interesting. The ale is bready and chewy but sweet with vanilla and pepper. Chocolate flavors appear throughout as well. The complexity of the rye-bourbon interactions is unusual and I think it works. The biggest problem I see is that the ale leaves a rather flat taste that seems to be weak bourbon (perhaps the ale needed more aging in the barrel?).

M: The mouthfeel is different. The ale lacks significant carbonation, so the flavors are inclined to linger too long on the palate. Rye grains and bourbon seem to have a testy relationship; they are not complimentary at times.

D: The ale is too big and complex to pound. I am happy to watch some college football and sip on this one for a few hours.

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Photo of asabreed
4.55/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

Released: June 07. Bottle #933. Darkest ochre with blood orange highlights when backlit with afternoon sun. I'm impressed that the beer sounds like heavy cream while splashing into the glass, but a bit concerned that it isn't opaque. Up top sits a crown of rich, frothy foam the color of golden brown sugar. The lace is more a uniform sheet than an intricate pattern, but it looks good all the same.

The barrels that were used to age Old Habit Strong Rye Ale definitely did their part in the creation of an appealing aroma. The base beer is more porter than stout, since it isn't overly huge and roasted malty. It's also a little disappointing that rye malt isn't more noticeable.

Old Habit is fandamntastic beer. On paper, it sounds incredible. On the taste buds, it *is* incredible. For the record... four different varieties of rye malt, Centennial and Crystal hops, aged in the Tennessee rye whiskey barrels. Forget lesser rye malted beers and never mind the nose, this one is ryerrific!

The brewers must have roasted some of that rye malt, unless they also used chocolate and/or black patent and didn't advertise it. OH has a stout-like roastiness that provides needed support for the other flavors. I'm not sure that a 100% rye malt beer is even practical, just as a 100% wheat malt beer isn't.

The distinctive flavor and spiciness of the rye comes through loud and clear. Think rye toast dipped in melted chocolate and caramel, then sprinkled with white grapefruit zest. The contrast between sweet, bitter and spicy makes an interesting ale more interesting yet.

Unfortunately, the body/mouthfeel doesn't match the melodious sound of the initial pour. Fortunately, it's still good enough to avoid negatively impacting the flavor profile and the drinking experience. Even more malt would be great, but I can't argue with the laid back amount of carbonation.

Those of you (of us!) who swoon over rye beer will love this stuff if you're lucky enough to lay your hands on a bottle. Since this year's batch was just released, what are you waiting for? Old Habit would be a hard habit to break if I lived in IBC's distribution area. Not that I'd want to, of course. Thanks to BeerTruth for this uniquely delicious beer.

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

June 2007 production. Wonderful integrated concoction of bourbon, rye,chocolate,almonds, almond milk, hazlenut, hops. This all comes through nicely in the smell and the taste. Well balanced. Cola dark black with ruby highlights, rich full mouthfeel, exceptional.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big ole magnum momma bottle wrapped up like a bottle 'o wine with a hand pressed cap. Opens with a quick *fwsk!* Label bottled June 07, bottle # 880.

Pours into a goblet with a deep auburn, burnt sienna hue topped with a frothy khaki head cap settling to a bubbly ring around the glass.

Candy lollipop scents with a light hint of bourbon barrel and rum cake. Spice cake bready scents follow through.

First swigs: Soft bourbon barrel woody characters weave with a roasty texture. Spice cake chewy middle. Rum torte dessert with a chocolate cocoa hint finish. Nutty almond extract and butter pecan ice cream evolve fully while sipping.

Feel is a thick viscous brew with a tongue coating. Gentle warmth, not hot, and a soft underattenuated carbonation.

Last swigs: Pecan pie thick with a roasty porter twist. Not too sure if I agree that this is a rye, but it is a big American Ale. More of a big porter, not Baltic, with a hidden ABV strength. Perfect match for a chocolate covered pretzel.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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

Bottle cracked by the other Matt at his place last night. Supposedly these were infected but I don't think so after drinking this last night. I think its over oaked.

Beer is dark brown and forms a huge off white dirty yellow head of small / medium bubbles that leaves some lacing on the glass. Beer is heavily carbonated (sign of infection) but the bubbles rise through the beer so slowly, it makes the beer appear super thick. There are also floaties in my pour, little tan flecks of probably yeast cake from the bottle. Looks OK.

Aroma is odd, its almost liquor like, tannic, and sweet.

Beer is heavy in the mouth but the high carbonation cuts it well. Its sweet and has a lot of bitterness at the back of the mouth. The bitterness isn't from hops, at least I don't think so, it feels more like tannins to me, like wood. Seems very over oaked. Its OK, overall, but I'm not super impressed.

I'm not saying that this beer isn't infected but I would expect a lot more lactic flavors than I got. I also think its vogue to say a bottle is infected right now. Start a thread on it and you'll get 200 replies of people all weighing in a beer they've never had. There may have been a brett note in the nose, but I didn't get any in the palate. So I would say there may be some brett in the bottle but definitely no lactobacillus.

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Photo of brentk56
4.39/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Released: June 07 Bottle: 127

Appearance: Pours a murky dark amber color with a rocky beige head; while the retention is decent, it could have been better and the lacing is modest

Smell: Lots of caramel mixed with whiskey barrel aromas, including vanilla and black cherry

Taste: Opens with complexity right off the bat, with all sorts of caramel, treacle, vanilla flavors joined, by mid-palate, with both citrus fruit and black cherry; after the swallow, the whiskey barrel flavors add depth : the finish is reminiscent of a dark chocolate covered cherry

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate to low carbonation

Drinkability: Like the others in this series, it suffers from undercarbonation, but not as much as the others I have tried previously; other than that, this is an intriguingly complex strong ale; very impressive

Thanks, BeerTruth, for the opportunity

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Photo of Viggo
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled after biegamans epic Summer Saison tasting, biegamans bottle.

Pours a clear dark red/brown, medium sized but thick off white head forms, drops a solid ring of lace on the glass, good retention, looks nice. Smell is sweet and caramelized, rye spiciness, wood, some chocolate, very malty, some floral and light fruit, quite rich aroma, nice. Taste is nice as well, toffee, rye spice, dark bread, alcohol, lots of fruit, some woody/earthiness, light chocolate malt, nice balanced finish, good stuff. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium to low carbonation, very smooth, alcohol is nicely hidden, some warmth. Thanks Jan!

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Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev -0.2%

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

750ml bottle #459 released one week ago today.

Pours dark, almost opaque color with a mahogany hue near the edges and a full finger light tan head that resists fading. Little lacing observed.

The smell comes out best in the back half of the bottle, as it warms. You get the vanilla cherry, described so well on the bottle, from the barrel treatment.

Medium-Full bodied, The mouth feel is creamy and nicely carbonated. The first wave of darkness coats the mouth with a chocolate malt and light oaked flavor from the barrels. Adding to the complexity, it finishes with a light nutty coffee flavor.

This is a really good drinker. I understand that it might be closer to 10% than 9%. The presence of the alcohol is there, in a wonderful way. Highly recommended.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.39/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clearish, dark brown body. Sure, there's no head, but check out the legs!

Smell: Aroma of fresh rye bread and dark fruit syrup. A hefty amount of wood in the nose from the start, but, as it warms, more boubronesque notes of vanilla and light brown sugar emerge.

Taste: Rich, dark fruitiness, then everything goes hot. The spiciness of the rye links up to the bright booziness to give the impression of capsaicin heat. Once you realize there's no chili inside, you can isolate the rye and whiskey components. Afterwards, a simple syrup sweetness perks up, along with hints of vanilla, brown sugar, and more wood. Finishes sweetish and hot with a lingering woodiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Mild carbonation. Syrupy mouthfeel, which is not to say that it's cloying, just very, very thick.

Drinkability: It's definitely a sipper, but an interesting one.

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Photo of Magery
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much more robust and flavorful than imagined. The beer opens with a surprisingly dark brown color, yet quite clear. A demanding head retention holds firm throughout. Quite sturdy and characterful from the offset. Aromas of strong malts hinge on sweet / and nutty, earthy scents, followed by earthy / pungent hops. Quite Scottish Ale in nature, without so much of the campfire-smoke character. Flavors confirm the nose, with a hearty malt base that does not wholly depend on sweetness. Yes, it's toffee-like and richly malty, but has a strong backbone of nuts, dirtyness, earthyness, and a hit of musk that cannot be denied. Takes on pumpernickle bread flavors and spices at times. Remaining sharply bready well into the body, and never waivering. A lingering of toffee, roasted bread, and pungent hops ride well into the aftertaste. Very good beer, when a deviation from most Scottish Ales is in order. Thanks Nathan!

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Photo of klewis
4.01/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark brown with a giant, foamy, everlasting head. Perpetual sustain and heavy lacing.

S: A spicy molasses aroma amidst a backdrop of whisky and oak.

T: A strong whiskey and earthy taste with a spicy character, mild sweetness, and a bit of heat. Overall, an intense flavor.

M: Full-bodied with too much carbonation. Thick and syrupy.

D: Overall, solid.

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Photo of rab53
4/5  rDev -0.2%

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

Thanks goes out to Kegatron for this brew.

750ml Bottle
Purple Tin

Batch E!007

Poured into my Corsendonk Christmas Ale glass a very nice amber color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger creamy light tan head, with some nice sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is malty, with some hops notes, very slight toffee tone. The taste is slightly sweet, malty, with a nice touch of hops, big on the Rye Whiskey. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden fairly well. Very drinkable, this is a very nice brew, different than I thought.

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Old Habit from Ithaca Beer Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 164 ratings