Old Habit | Ithaca Beer Company

very good
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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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Ratings: 164 |  Reviews: 117
Photo of tclapper
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of sideshowe
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of Magery
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of HopStoopid120
5/5  rDev +27.9%

Photo of mjtiernan
3/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of thebouch01
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

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 SFLpunk
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

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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 mikereaser
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
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


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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 THECPJ
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
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.


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Photo of bamadog
3.66/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

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Photo of claspada
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of zoolzoo
1.84/5  rDev -52.9%
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...

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Photo of JimLetson
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.3/5  rDev +10%
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!).

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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 karenp
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
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.

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Photo of Lothore
2.74/5  rDev -29.9%
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.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
1.11/5  rDev -71.6%
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 davod23
1.43/5  rDev -63.4%
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.

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Photo of nickd717
1.35/5  rDev -65.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

750ml bottle thanks to Crack1Open.

Major gusher!!! Hazy weird reddish-brown appearance with a massive fizzy tan head. Lost half the beer into the sink (and most of the other half later when I drainpoured it).

Bretty, funky, oaky, aroma with slight dark fruit, infection evident.

Tart bretty flavor with an odd acrid finish. Some plum and fig notes. Not good.

Medium-bodied with carbonation WAY too high.

This is terrible. Ithaca needs to do something about this infection problem. This is the third or fourth DIFFERENT beer I've had from them recently that has been infected. Brute yeast doesn't work so well on beers other than Brute it seems.

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Photo of Arbitrator
1/5  rDev -74.4%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Chilled bottle into a glass. Shared by nickd717, I believe. Thanks Tick.

Batch E!017.

A: Pours murky brown in the glass. It's amply carbonated, with a good cap that remains for the duration of the drink. The bottle is a slow gusher. Sigh.

S: Minerals, funk, cherries. It is somewhat floral. At this point I know it's infected so I don't really bother parsing the nose too much.

T: ...Or the rest of it. Gave up on the notes here and threw my glass out.

I've had a few infected / off bottles from these guys and I find the pattern frustrating.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle, batch E!007, into The Bruery tulip. I've been saving this one for awhile, and decided today was the day it was intended to be drank. One of the very last of the relics brought down from Brooklyn in the move. No special occasion, just an otherwise subpar day.

Pours deep brown, almost black, with a thin, frisky tan head on top that is nicely persistent. Nice lacing.

Nose is beautiful, and unlike pretty much any other beer I've smelled before. Rye whiskey is first up, bringing a beautiful mixture of spicy alcohol, rich rye graininess and deep, dry oak to the mix, malt underneath has a rich, densely sweet breadiness reminiscent of toffee. A tiny hint of chocolate as well. It's odd, the nose doesn't exactly leap from the glass - you really have to pull it out. But what's there is fantastic. Beautifully put together. As it warms, a bit of cardboard does emerge which pulls this one back a bit.

Taste is interesting as well. Certainly the first signs of some cardboard like oxidation found in this one, though it doesn't ruin the beer. Dry oak and rye whiskey notes are still prominent, as is a bit of a toffee character as seen in the nose, though with a restrained sweetness that fades quickly. Dark and a bit grainy, bordering on chalky. Hints of chocolate show up on the long finish.

Mouthfeel is very nice - medium bodied, a bit on the light side, with a carbonation that is light, almost fluffy, though fades quickly. Dry, a bit oxidized, leaves a bit of a cottonmouth feel after the fact. Still, though faded a bit, still a very nice mouthfeel.

Drinkability is fairly decent, despite the oxidation. The alcohol is very restrained, the flavor is still quite enjoyable, and the mouthfeel excellent. At its peak, this must have been a powerhouse of a beer.

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Old Habit from Ithaca Beer Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 164 ratings.
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