Brute | Ithaca Beer Company

844 Ratings
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Brewed by:
Ithaca Beer Company
New York, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed with vintage (aged) local hops, barley, wheat, corn, aged in oak with Brett and finished with three types of champagne yeast.

Added by albern on 06-22-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 844 |  Reviews: 391
Photo of kingcrowing
3.93/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap poured into a sampling glass, reviewed from notes.

Pours a light slightly cloudy light wheat color with a very small white head. Nose is sweet and tart and a bit funky.

Taste is also quite tart and funky, it's got some sharp carbonation that works really well with the tart funkiness which adds to the drinkability. Finish is super dry.

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Photo of codewarrior
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Cork and capped 750mL Bomber (Batch E!027), poured into a Balloon.

Picked this up from the source, and boy am I glad I did. For me, this is the definitive Golden Sour (yes, it blows temptation out of the water ... no-contest).

A: Hay-colored and cloudy. HUGE soapy head, HUGE, dissipates slowly and laces the glass beautifully.

S: Tart, dry and sour. Light too ... man I want this in my mouth, this thing smells phenomenal.

T: Sweet up front, tart in the middle, dries out and fades into fruits (heavy on the cherry and berry) and pollen. Spectacular taste here.

F: Sparkly and light, but thick enough to coat the mouth.

D: Definitive. Awesome.

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Photo of rtepiak
4.2/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

an above average american lambic interpretation. Pour is golden with a fantastic amount of bubbles. About four fingers initially. And a consistent amount of bubbles coming up. Like a good pilsner. Some mild cloudiness. At first as the nose is cold and tight its grassy. Citrus sour notes but most brett. Subtle raspberry, that fades. To peach, and floral lemon peel. Palate is a well backed lambic. Nice mild sour character that doesn't marginalize other qualities. The wood is always there. In the malt and smooth settle of the sour. And in the bitter to give it dimension and minerals. Great beer. Decent sour.

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Photo of stakem
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 750ml brown bottle stuck with a yellow synthetic corked and capped, poured into my favorite snifter. This is the most recent batch #E!027. Tonight is a celebratory type of night and this is the closest thing I have to champagne...only better.

Brute pours a hazed light golden orange color with more than 2 fingers of white head that slowly receeds leaving some patches of leggy lace about the glass. After the initial surge of carbonation and head formation, it settles to a thin cap supported by some rising bubbles. A light swirl revives the head back to a finger's strength. The orange glow that this brew displays is interesting. Even though it appears somewhat cloudy, it doesn't have any particles floating around or stuck in suspension that I can see.

The aroma of brute includes some sharp citrus notes reminescent of lemon upfront. All through the nose is the scent of brett with a contrasting smell somewhat like that of wet leather and funky goodness that is somewhat cheesy. Underneath the predominant character of brett and lemony citrus is a light grainy sweetness that ties it all together and really accents the citrus component of the nose. Once brute reaches warmer temperatures, some alcohol character comes out and really gives the first indication of some woodsy notes.

The taste of brute is tart upfront with the lemony citrus character that has a minor puckering quality. Some of the alcohol's presence comes through here and highlights the sharpness of this brew's flavor. Beyond the citrus aspect is a light grainy sweetness that blends into the brett's contribution of funk, cheese and leather. This brew finishes with a dry woodsy flavor that has a light grainy taste that offsets the tartness and acidity.

Brute is a light bodied brew with a moderately high level of carbonation that is prickly and light on the tongue. This beer is crisp, refreshing, complex and overall just well balanced without brett overkill to allow you to enjoy everything that is going on inside this brew. It has an excellent amount of drinkability and enough alcohol that allows you to enjoy another glass but without the effects playing too much of a factor.

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Photo of crashlimo
4.42/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Batch E!027

A: Pours a hazy golden yellow with apparent carbonation. A small amount of white head accumulates, but does not stick to the glass.

S: Sour citrus notes and funk permeate the air. Crisp smell with hints of apple.

T: Ever so crisp, dry and tart. Strong flavor of green apples, and hints of sour peach. Very refreshing, yet not understated. Wonderfully sour.

M: Mild carbonation created by the champagne yeast creates a light, crisp mouthfeel that compliments the light flavors.

D: Finishes slightly dry with a mild sour aftertaste that leaves you craving more, and more...and more. Flavors are just powerful and complex enough to stun ones taste buds into a slow leisurely drink (otherwise I'd worry about the urge to suck it down too fast)

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Photo of afksports
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Effin' excellent brew. I'm an amateur here, so I'm totally unqualified to talk about hop notes or brett or lacing or whatever. I'm doing my homework on beer 101, but in the meantime I'd like to enjoy some. This I can.

Brute has a distinct type of sour that finishes clean but leaves me thinking about granny smith apples in the dryness of champagne. The carbonation and head are great, and I feel classy drinking this. Buy me another and take me home.

I almost feel bad calling it beer. But I don't feel bad calling it awesome. Would drink again - for sure.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.24/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Crittervision -- thanks! Batch E!018

a - pours a bright golden color, quite cloudy, one inch fluffy white head, not much retention or lacing

s - great aroma, lots of barnyard funk and sour lemon, very earthy, light acetic character, aroma is closer to the character of a traditional Belgian lambic than most of the American wild ales I've tried

t - strong tongue ripping lemon sourness and barnyard funk up front, lighter acetic/vinegar notes on the midpalate with the funk and sourness leaving rather quickly, as great as this is initially, the finish is really truncated and disappointing, really my only knock on the beer, finish does extend a bit when the beer warms up, but it's still rather short, alcohol is well-hidden, pretty dry overall

m - medium-bodied, with moderate to lower carbonation, not much alcohol warming, dry finish

d - pretty drinkable for the style, the sourness and funk are intense (up front, at least), but they aren't overly harsh on the palate, the smell and taste are interesting and sufficiently complex, alcohol not an issue

Really good sour overall that would be exceptional if not for the short finish. Really glad to have another bottle to see how it develops.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml into tulip. From notes. Unsure of batch. Consumed in April 2010.

A- Nice golden pour, fluffy snow white head with pockets of air.

S- Lemony, grassy, a bit funky. Nice nose on this one.

T- White grapes, green apples. Nice and tart, like biting into a granny smith. Really spectacular balance here- nothing is out of place or overbearing. Nice funky yeast notes with a dry finish.

M- Fairly high carbonation, the bubbles are sublime. Very good.

D- One of the most approachable sours, one I could drink a lot of. This stuff is awesome. I think this is one of the best American wild ales out there. Highly reccomended.

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Photo of Pahn
4.89/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle into Duvel tulip. Batch E!027, 2010. ABV: 7% this batch.

Appearance: Careful pour yields a three inch white head that dissipates steadily, leaving a few spots of lacing. Pours a hazy fulvous (I found this color 'fulvous' on wikipedia, and though it's more hilarious for me to just flatfootedly say 'fulvous', I leave this parenthetical note anyway). Doesn't leave much lacing to speak of.

Smell: At first it's effervescent and acetic, moving quickly to tart apple and peach, with some faint funk in the background. Freshly cut orange. While it stays effervescent, the acetic character pretty much drops out and the smell moves from tart fruit to sweet peach to citrus to a mild, creamy oak and vanilla to various berries. There's more happening (and more good happening) than I can meaningfully record.

Taste: So subtle and balanced, but so full-flavored. Tart but smooth, lots of fruit, with a big brett note in the finish. It tastes like it smells, but with a significantly larger brettanomyces influence at the end, more barnyard and musty than tangy. There's flavors reminiscent of champagne and white wine, and a persistent acetic character that keeps everything sour but never distracts from the beautiful fruit, wine, and funk.

Like the smell, there's too much happening here to describe it all, but what I can say is: the taste is flawless. I hate to give out 5s, but this really couldn't be better for what it is. It could be more sour, the oaky notes could be stronger, the brett (which is surprisingly big) could be bigger, but none of that is the point. Those flavors are all here (along with more), they're all distinct, they're all in harmony, they're all delicious. Drinking this beer is like listening to a brilliant symphony for the first time; you're picking out things you love, you're enjoying it thoroughly, but you know it has depths further than you can appreciate or understand in one listen.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Tart, but soft and creamy, with a dry finish. Fairly carbonated but not overboard. The feel is like the smell and the taste: all subtlety and class.

Drinkability: This beer is refreshing, complex, restrained, and delicious. I would drink this regularly. It's one of those beers such that, despite having a refrigerator full of world class beer, when its bottle is empty, I will be sad.

Honestly, I think Brute is flawless. It's a shame that it's relatively hard to get, because it would be a perfect gateway beer for wild ales. If these flavor profiles didn't make sense to you before, they would after having Ithaca Brute.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
4.19/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Initial pour is opaque golden hugh with rocky white head that fades pretty quickly and looks a little sub-par. Pretty complex aroma; super lemony, grassy, oak, light hoarse hair, green grapes and sour apple. Nice balanced taste, tart, grape-y, lemon zest, clear wheat influence, a little funky but not too funky. Really clean through the palate. Oak is present. This beer has a farmhouse quality to it somehow. Prickly bubbly mouth feel. Sometimes a sour is too sour to be drinkable, not this one.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
4.72/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at kraftworks.

A- comes to me with two fingers of bright white head that settles in a bit to an almost mirror finish. Hazy golden yellow orange in color.

S- tart peaches and lemon zest. Hint of florals and honey. Pale wheat and funk.

T- sour peaches and lemon juice. slightly sweet pale wheat and a nice yeastiness. Sweet tart finish.

M- medium in body with a nice understated carb.

D- this is a beautifully put together wild ale. The layers of sweet and sour are amazing. I love this stuff.

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Photo of tempest
4.3/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to my friend Keith for sharing a bottle from Ithaca. This was a fantastic sour that reminded me of the best gueuzes I'm sampled. The main difference between this and its Belgian counterparts was the lack of the barnyard character that make a lambic extra funky. This, instead a had a lightly sweet, but mostly sour herbal lemon tang. The oak aging adding a subtle candy vanilla while the champagne yeast helps with a dry finish to round the beer out. If you like sours, you need to find this.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.52/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bendurgin for sharing!

Batch E!027

Poured into a tulip. Color is hazy golden and the head is huge when poured. The white head shrinks into lacing.

This smells of tart apples and the funkiness is well tamed for a brett beer. A hint of lemon citrus also noted.

This is really a wonderful tasting beer. A slight bit of sweetness first hits the tip of the tongue but is followed by a crisp, tart finish. I am pleasantly surprised by the flavor, as there is not much dirty, horseblanketyness to it. This is really a brett beer for the people.

This is a fantastic beer that I'm glad to have tried. I will definately be on the lookout for more

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.55/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I got the one from the incredibly generous 6DaysBottomOcean who graciously extended his cellar to me. The appearance is hazy golden with a rocky white head about a finger thick. The smell is faintly sour; it reminds me of tart apples with a bit of brett funk and earthy oak flavors. The taste is sour green apples with a bit of vinegar. Slight funk from the brett with a little bit of oakiness. The tartness is perfectly what I want, ever so slight with a bit of sweetness. The mouthfeel is fair, the carbonation being what I would expect, nice and lively with a medium body. Easy to drink but overall not my absolute favorite. Still a solid beer worth trying.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.65/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden with a relatively thin but tightly beaded head that sticks around. A nice golden glow to this beer. Smells acetic to start, then spicy oak, and then a more mellow creaminess on the finish. Very nice flavors here. Lots of big acetic notes. a slight touch of funk, big spicy oak, and some nice horseblanket notes. Outstanding. Prickly and very sour in the mouth, this beer is extremely refreshing. I really enjoyed on a late summer day in Atlanta.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.27/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Patrick (Jctribe25) for providing this in trade earlier this year.

The beer is a beautiful bright gold/brass color with excellent clarity and some sparse carbonation. The light fluffy white head form and then vanishes immediately. No signs of lacing anywhere.

Aroma is bright, tart and of white grapes and green apples. Lots of earthy notes and a whiff of dirt.

Flavor is very nice. Light tartness initially greets you, then gives way to some fresh fruits.. Green Apples and some white wine notes. The earthy aroma make their presence known in the finish. You pick up some minerals here along with the earth flavors. Lots to contemplate here.

Body is very light and is certainly reminiscent of champagne. Carbonation is just a prickle on your tongue.

Really a nice beer and one I am glad to have had the chance to try.

Well done.

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Photo of kbnooshay
4.82/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am still peeved that Ithaca uses wine bottles for their whole excelsior! series. The cap has embossed grapes on the top. Come on! Anyways, the label is shiny and gold.

a- This poured a super hazy, murky golden otange color with a super massive frothy, fizzy white head. This head holds its shape well. Aroma is super fruity. Candy sweet. Lots of nice bitter apple smells. Awesome champagne character.

t - Funky and earthy! Fucking brilliant! Lots of champagne flavor from the yeast they added. Nice tart apple flavor. Some pepperyness.

Mf/d- Champagne but less carbonation than one. Slightly drying finish that makes your mouth water.
Beautifully balanced and surprisingly refreshing.

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Photo of mrandypandy
4.77/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml capped and corked bottle picked up at the brewery. Third (and most recent as of this review) batch of Brute.

A- Pours a hazy orange/yellow. Huge, fluffy white head on initial pour lasts and leaves nice lacing on my glass.
S- Slight aromas of barnyard brett funk, with a tart tinge to it. Inviting.
T- Delicious. The balanced/restrained tart flavors work well with the earthy notes beind it. Everything I want a sour to taste like.
M- Light, refreshing, crisp, with just the right amount of dryness. High carbonation.
D- Falvorfull and complex make this highly drinkable. The high price tag makes this a difficult daily drinker, but that in no way detracts from it's score.

Overall - After a couple of times having this I decided it was time to actually review it. Just the right amount of tartness and complexity make this a fantastic brew, and highly recommended if you can get your hands on some.

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4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch# 010!

AP- Golden, with a nice cloud of yeast from the bottom of the bottle. (had to shake this one up, to get all the funk out of it.)

A-Strong dry funk, from the brett no doubt. Sweet green grapes and another fruit i can't quite put my finger on.

T- Wonderful flavors of apple cider vinegar, with nice slice of sour green apple cut on the side. Has the usual suspects that you expect from sour beer, yes are old friends horse blanket and fresh cut hay are here as well.

M- Light and crisp, just what is needed on these hot summer days.

O- Overall, one of my favorite sour ales. Refreshing, with just the right amount of sweet dry funk to keep me wanting to come back for more. Well done!

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Photo of axeman9182
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle from 2009 (batch E!018) poured into my Duvel tulip.

The beer pours a very nice hazy gold, with a voluminous white head. Retention is decent, but an almost complete lack of lacing keeps me from giving it a higher appearance score. This beer was aged in barrels with brett and then allowed to sit in the bottle for a year, and all that is evident with the first whiff. The nose is overwhelmingly of the classic barnyard funk, with some background tartness and faint apple sweetness. The taste is largely the same, though there was a certain harshness to the brett flavors while this beer was still warming. Once it approached room temperature though things smoothed out and Brute became a much better beer. The mouthfeel was great, very dry and a great bubbly, but not overbearing, carbonation. Like with the taste, Brute's drinkability gets dinged by how much worse of a beer it was right out of the fridge. Wild ales are such natural slow sippers though that most of this beer was consumed at an appropriate temperature. I look forward to hopefully getting my hands on some of this year's Brute and trying it with a little less age on it.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one looks like champagne. Light chardonnay looking body, bubbles kind of all over the place. The head indicates that, yes, this is a beer. A semi-dense head, tight bubbles, not a whole lot of staying power.
Sharp aroma, a bit sour. White grape, lemon, green fruit. Effervescent in the nose.

Tangy and tannin in the taste. The white grape becomes a bit sour and the lemon is juicy. Lime and golden apples. Thin body, but it does a number on the palate. The carbonation combines with the sour to cut through anything before it. Quite a nice aperitif if you're starting out on a meal.

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Photo of 7ways
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

3rd batch. And it's just as amazing as the first two.

Pretty murky straw and orange colored, like the sky when it gets all creepy before a good storm. Well constructed head. Thick lacing. It looks like a painting.

Initial Brett aroma literally makes my mouth water. Smells sweet, citrusy and dry (can a beer smell dry?). Kind of reminds me of picking apples in upstate New York when I was in grade school, how's that for an aroma-induced flashback?

Tastes much more sour than it smells. This is the youngest one I've had, and it's much less puckering than what happens to it with 6 months to a year on it. The flavors of raw oak, lemon, lime, orange, and apple are much more straightforward. The apple is more like a golden delicious than a granny smith. But the rich earthiness and sour kick are still there...waiting.

As with the older vintages I've had, carbonation has no room for improvement. Lovely effervescence like a fine champagne. But there is also a depth and subtle richness that brings it all together.

I like it better with at least half a year on it, but I'm a sour junkie. I've had Temptation, Isabelle, and DDG, and Brute owns them all.

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Photo of Ryan011235
4.37/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter (1st pour) & a tulip (2nd pour) on 8/8/10

Batch E!018

Bright golden color, especially held to the light. Mostly clear, there is a faint hazy sheen to it. Poured two fingers of vigorous white foam. For all it ample visual carbonation, the head is just as ephemeral, thinning to a skim in short order. Swirling helps a little, though retention is nil by the end; same for lace. Clumpy sediment on the last pour.

The overall aroma seems rather very sour. Quite bold, actually. Crisp notions of tart apples & maybe white grapes. Lightly toasted grain overtones. The wheat I get; not so much for the corn. Brett funk is appreciable in the back but doesn't appear to be the focal point. Musty notes become more assertive as the beer warms. Notes of wood also become more apparent with warmth.

The taste is no less sour. Indeed, it's very sharp & puckering with ripened light fruit esters. Though said sourness hits hard, it opens up mid-swallow, allowing for more barnyard funk to be expressed more than was suggested with the nose. Notions of tired old oak towards the back. As with the nose, grains are light & add subtle layers of earthiness. At times there seems to be a pinch of corn, though fleeting. Faint hints of pepper & earthy hops.

Basically light bodied - crisp & biting. Carbonation is vigorous, especially on the first half of each pour. Even though it tastes slightly over time, it never shies from being prickly. The champagne yeasts really have this one kicking. Funky, dry finish with sourness lingering on.

I must say, this is quite an impressive beer. Despite initially seeming merely awash in sourness, Brute offers up a nice amount of complexity as it graduates from cool to warmer. A very enjoyable Wild Ale. Recommended.

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Photo of Lazerlobe
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Batch

Look: Brilliant golden hue with neat white foam, holding tight for the 15 minutes since my pour.

Smell: Lemon, must, fruity esters

Taste: Melon, lemonade, bubblegum, light cobwebbiness and a mild tartness prevail with a dry, crisp finish. Awesome flavors but the bubblegum is a little off-putting.

I'd like to give this a little time to let the brett take more of an assertive role. Great sour overall and I'm proud to be sipping on something from my own backyard.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 07/24/10 notes.

a - Pours a golden color with 1 inch of white head and light carbonation.

s - Smells of sour fruit, citrus, lemon, and some funk. Very enjoyable.

t - Tastes of tart, sour fruits, especially lemon. Nice citrus, tart, and funk. Very enjoyable.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - I loved this sour. I thought there was some great sour fruits and funk in the smell and taste. A great sour I would love to have again.

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Brute from Ithaca Beer Company
4.39 out of 5 based on 844 ratings.
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