Old Habit | Ithaca Beer Company

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Old HabitOld Habit

Brewed by:
Ithaca Beer Company
New York, United States

Style: Rye Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by zdk9 on 06-06-2007

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Reviews: 117 | Ratings: 164
Photo of Sammy
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
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 BEERchitect
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
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 brentk56
4.39/5  rDev +12.3%
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 zeff80
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out an opaque, dark burgundy color with a light brown, bubbly head of foam. It left some thin rings of lace.

S - It smelled of biscuity malt, rye, caramel and some hints of chocolate. There was a bready aroma, too.

T - It tasted very malty with bready caramel flavors. The rye added a slight bitterness as did the chocolate.

M - It was crisp and smooth with a dry finish. A medium to full bodied brew.

D - I really enjoyed this rye beer. It's my first from Ithaca and I hope to have more from them.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

E!017 batch. Possibly infected. Poured into a tulip.

A: Pours A very dark mahogany with a bit of an almost purple hue. Pours with one of the most massively billowing heads I've seen and it stays up for a long, long time, leaving thick lacing in its wake.

S: Initial whiff is a bit of sourness, so I'm guessing this is at least partially infected; however, if I hadn't heard about these issues, I'd think it was appropriate. The sourness fits in quite well with the zip from the rye and the bit of whiskey that comes through in the nose. I'm actually really enjoying how this has all come together, intended or not. As the beer warms, the sourness fades a bit as well, bringing out more of the whiskey.

T: A very slight amount of sourness (and maybe it's just my mind playing tricks), nice whiskey, spicy rye, a bit of alcohol heat, and hints of dark fruits.

M: Quite creamy and on the heavy side of medium-bodied. A slight alcohol touch.

D: Pretty drinkable. Nice complexity comes through, especially as it warms.

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Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +10%
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 ChainGangGuy
4.39/5  rDev +12.3%
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 BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +10%
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 billab914
2.51/5  rDev -35.8%
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.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle c/o hobbie100. Thanks Richard!

Shared with Matt, Jeff, and Adam.

A: Old Habit appears a dark walnut shade, with yeast sediment in suspended animation. The floaties are trapped in the beer! Don't fret, I'll get them out. The beer has a light, khaki head akin to the pants I'm forced to wear to work on occasion. The head has some serious staying power. When it finally gets off the top of my beer, it leaves a mess all over the glass.

S: Funky tree branches soaked in whiskey barrels that were left out in the rain. Also lurking in there is a large and in charge malt presence.

T: This beer has a fair amount of complexity about it. It's odd and funky. Some say it's infected. I don't necessarily subscribe to that point of view. There are a few pungent scents and flavors, but I don't think there is a bacterial (yeast) infection. No need to get the brewer's Monistat at your local homebrew store. It's just woody.

Maybe the brewer went on vacation and was like:
"Honey, did you take that beer out of the oak barrel like I asked you to?"

"Sorry dear I thought you said add more oak to the barrel."

M: There is a formidable alcohol presence and a hoppy, bitter finish. Where did that come from? The hops must've sneaked out and jumped in the wrong brew kettle.

D: Splitting a bottle four ways was a good move. This beer was half-decent, but not something I'd want to drink too much of.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown that when held to light shows a dark, but perfectly clear ruby. Nose is extremely clean. But not in a bland or boring kind of way. If this were a porter or a stout, I'd say this has a lot of malt qualities. Carries a pretty thick and robust character. Flavor is extremely hearty. Just a mass of robust qualities. It is hard to judge this one as I have not had any rye beers to this point, but it seems extremely well made. Feel has a great carbonation to it and a thick enough liquid feel. This one is extremely drinkable. Even though this is my first sample at this particular style, I feel as though I can firmly say that this is an excellent example of the style and overall a beautiful beer in general. If you see it....don't hesitate. If you did...you'd be robbing yourself of an experience. Beautiful. One of my most amazing experiences with beer in very recent memory. If Ithaca doesn't make this a regular in their lineup, I say they are moronic idiots.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Joe for busting this out. Served in a 2009 Night of the Living Ales taster glass. Batch E!007.

A - This is a terrific looking high-gravity brew. Two fingers of tannish foam that dissipates slowly and leaves tons of lacing. Nice transparent reddish-brown color.

S - Good old ale smell to this one - apple, caramel, roasted malts, burnt sugars, molasses, some spicy rye. There's still a bit of faded hop character as well that's a nice addition.

T - Similar to the smell, but with some added chocolate flavors and a touch of whiskey bite. The malt profile is very similar to Kuhnhenn brews. I'm a little inarticulate after a few drinks tonight, but it's quite delicious. Aftertaste is surprisingly clean. Well hidden ABV.

M - Solid medium body with a good sticky residual feel and a little bit of heat. Lower carbonation that suits the style

D - Surprisingly drinkable for a 9% brew, I went through my glass really quick. The clean aftertaste and lower carbonation make it easy to down.

Another solid brew from Ithaca! Slowly working my way through the Excelsior series.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
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 aasher
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
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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Photo of WesWes
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
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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Photo of Mora2000
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a reddish-amber color with a white head. The aroma is tart dark fruit and roasted malt. The beer is definitely infected, but it doesn't smell too bad. The flavor is rye and tart cherries and other dark fruit. I also get some roasted malt. The beer is fairly dry and is nice and drinkable, even if it is not as the brewer intended. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this a few times over the last couple of years, but the most recent bottle and the review comes from Ditmier... Eric is a beer buddy's homeboy. Enjoyed immensely at a tasting a while back and reviewed from notes.

Lite tan head and a lightly hazed deep amber.. great lacing.

I catch the barrel aging out of the gate.. not over done but well presented and adds a great complexity immediately.. malty with some spice.. touches of chocolate.

Spiciness abounds in the palate... lite cherry and caramel.. nice vanilla mid palate .. again some chocolate that reminds me of a boozy cordial without all the sweetness... Great medium body with a lighter than expected carbonation... very smooth I like the way it circulates around the palate.

This is an excellent brew that I need to remember to try and trade for again.. Fantastically complex and ramps up the definition of "rye beer" for sure... Rye Wine maybe??!!


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Photo of yourefragile
3.12/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Batch !017. Hooray for infection! Hooray for beer!

Opening the bottle, gusher ahoy! Cloudy, brown burgundy color with a massive tan head that never fades and coats the glass in lacing. Aroma is...lacking. Dry, and soda like and with sleight whiskey and alcohol pinch. Very medicinal and antiseptic, not very appealing. Flavor actually isn't as bad as expected. We agree it's a "mess", very thin, highly carbonated, almost oxidized body with smooth bourbon-y finish. Very little rye or malt character in the body. Oddly I sort of enjoyed this beer in this condition, but would love to try an uninfected bottle of this beer.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle, solid 6 oz. sample or so thanks to dukedebourgogne,

A: Pours red with a medium white head, good retention.

S: Strong rye whiskey nose, very evident of the spirit, bready as well, strong ethanol component, you can feel it in the nose.

T: Dry taste of rye bread along with the big whiskey component. Cherries and some dark fruit round out the flavour, a little bit of grape in there too.

S: Strong ethanol, rough feel, medium to full body, very spiritous.

D: This was a fun beer to taste due to the strong barrel aged flavour, this is definitely a barrel-aged beer where the spirit is really big in the flavour. All and all, I really liked this one, if you like whiskey, you'll like this beer.

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Photo of rudzud
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
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.

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Photo of weeare138
3.95/5  rDev +1%
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 Bitterbill
4.44/5  rDev +13.6%
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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Old Habit from Ithaca Beer Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 164 ratings.
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