Brute | Ithaca Beer Company

391 Reviews
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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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Reviews: 391 | Ratings: 843
Photo of infi
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #E!013, courtesy of BA r0nyn.

Poured into a snifter.

Golden yellow-orange pour sits in glass and is full of vigorous bubbling activity, almost like a champagne. A thin, white and bubbly head sits atop with some generous amounts of lacing on the glass. Smell is full of lemon zest, lemon rind, lemon juice and lemon pith. Essentially lemons and yeast with a good amount of funkified juice from the Brettanomyces. It surprisingly dominates the Gueuze Cuveé in funk and sourness.

Taste is quite a novelty with it starting off being substantially sour and tart and then transitioning into an incredible breadiness and yeastiness. The breadiness in the aftertaste is adds a real nice dimension in the taste, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Sourdough bread in a glass. Never had anything like this honestly, so this was quite nice in taste difference.

Mouthfeel is was light and crisp, again like a champagne. Lots of bubbly can be felt on the tongue and on its way down. Quite effervescent in that respect. The drinkability is moderate - not too fast and not too slow. The sourness and tartness might be the hardest to get through at first but the breadiness that shines through helps ameliorate it.

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

Batch E!010

Opens with a subtle pop.

Poured into thin stemmed wine glass.

Pours a huge fizzy white head that settles very quick. No lace. Color is an appealing orange mango. I can't see through this one.

Aroma: This is a sour one. Very tart. Brett and oak chips are fairly present. The brett creates a nice farmhouse funk to it. It also has some very sour fruits in the background and a citrus aroma.

Taste: Big oak flavor, brett funk, citrus. Very, very tart almost too tart. I like it, but it puckers the much so much. A nice wild, but there are better.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly sour and tart. Kind of funky. Light bodied with a very high amount of carbonation. Ends with a sour oak clean aftertaste.

Overall, this beer is just a little too sour for me. It is drinking very slow for me. I couldn't drink an entire bottle, but one glass is a nice sipper. However, it is decently tasty.

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

From a 750ml bottle purchased from the brewery in Aug of 09. Tasted from a Spiegelau champagne flute

This is a very solid wild. It pours a hazy yellow with a little head and slight lacing. The nose is a lot of fresh ripe lemon juice and a good hint of funk. The nose on this reminds me of a more elegant wild than many americans are currently producing though that may be a function of its youth. Over time the nose picks up more citrus peel and hints of sweatiness that are not overbearing. The taste has more lemon with soft acidity cleansing the palate with every sip. The funk is there again but is still fairly subtle. The finish rounds out with a slight saltiness that makes this quite refreshing. I'm very glad that I have half a case of this to go as I'm quite interested in seeing how this will age. A big tip of the hat to Ithaca on this one.

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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 ffejherb
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 1. Poured from 750ml bottle on 10/5/09, courtesy of BA Tanger.

A - Cloudy, unfiltered and cider-esque appearance with half a finger's width of bubbly white head and fizzy carbonation.

S - Sour green apples (think Granny Smith) with some citrus notes. Lots of fruity esters and some spicy notes from the Champagne yeast. Funky and earthy notes are very subtle in the aroma.

T - Initial flavor is very cider-like with a dominant sour apple character. Citrus notes are also apparent, but take a back seat to the tartness of the apples. Sour grapes, perhaps? Some faint earthy hops appear in the backend, but overall this is not bitter at all. A tart, champagne-esque quality and oaky dryness dominates the flavor.

M - Light to medium bodied with fizzy carbonation and a syrupy texture. Fairly astringent on the palate. Finish is crisp and dry, and extremely tart on the palate.

D - Very nice Wild Ale with a pleasant tartness. Brute is quite complex, yet it maintains its drinkability quite nicely.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch # E!010, from Buckeyesox and enjoyed in his memory (you're missed Dev). From the label: "Brewed with vintage local hops, American barley, wheat, and corn, Brute is fermented on oak for many months with Brettanomyces, then finished with a blend of three champagne yeasts".

The beer is hazy, pale yellow color, with about 3+ fingers of white foam that retains for about forever. The aroma is tart and fruity, kind of like white wine but a little sweeter. The taste both meets my expectations and surprises me a little all at once. I expected a sour bite but was unprepared for the bracing tartness with which this beer presents itself. None of the sweetness from the aroma comes through, really this is so sour and puckering that it shocked me. I love this style of beer but this tasted less funky than what you might expect, none of the horseblanket or grass or musty whatnot, just all the sour turned to 11. A strong white wine might be the best descriptor after all, a bit dry and more bitter than sweet. Or maybe not bitter at all, just acidic.

Despite those descriptions this is really very good, a nice achievement in brewing. We're at a lucky time in American brewing, many craft breweries are now experimenting with Brett, it wasn't that long ago that you only had some Belgian breweries and maybe Russian River to go to for these flavors. Here's to hoping that even more breweries go for it in the future.

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Photo of zhanson88
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch E!037.

Appearance: Pours a brilliant, clear golden color with a good amount of carbonation. About 1.5" of white head forms, which has extremely good retention and lacing. Great looking wild.

Smell: I get a lot of funk and brett right off the bat. Some white grape flavors and a bit of honey lend some sweetness. Lots of horseblanket and lemon tartness as well. Really nice smell that has some balance.

Taste: White grapes and other pale fruit character lends sweetness initially and remains present throughout. Funk, brett, and horseblanket hit the mid palate, and some lemon tartness finishes it. Not tons of tartness or sourness on the palate but plenty of funk. Good, but probably a bit sweeter throughout than I had anticipated.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Light bodied with great carbonation. About perfect in that regard. Finish could be drier though. The sweetness retracts from that aspect. Overall, a very good wild. Really enjoyed it and would have again for sure.

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Photo of Florida9
4.19/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Mostly clear, golden yellow in color. Forms a fizzy white head that offers up a bit of retention, but no lacing. Aroma of sweet green apples, rice, and dry yeast. Taste is likewise pleasant. Dry apples, cider, light sweet-tart action before turning dry on the finish. Lively carbonation. Slight tartness. Good shit.

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

Thanks to brewdan for this one.

Batch 1.

Hazy pale yellow with a big rocky white head. Good head retention.

The aroma is quite mild and light with a wheaty tart character. Notes of brett, barrel and sweet lemon peel, and hints of unripe bananas. Balanced smell.

The taste is more interesting, though, and more eventful. Nice sweet fruity character up front with some malts shining through. Then, a quite prominent tartness develops with notes of barrel and brett. The finish is dry and effervescent with tart fruity notes. All in all, lovely development of the flavors and aromas in the mouth.

The body is light and the carbonation is very lively. Dry mouthfeel but with some residual smooth sweetness.

Interesting and well done. Nice sparkling character, but gets repetitive after a while.

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

Shared generously by Chico, been pretty excited to try this for a long time. Batch E!027, 2010?

A- Hazy golden yellow with a beastly white head. Brutally foamy with huge retention. Some suds but not a lot of lace.

S- Sour grape notes blast into my nostrils with a big vinegar/acetic presence. General apple, light fruit, wine Flanders feel.

T- Sour light fruit is up front (grape, lemon). Oak and vinegar round it out with just a bit of sweetness. Straw, funky barnyard and grape vine stand out as well.

MF- Creamy light body with cheek-puckering sour. Love the oily vinegar feel.

DB- Pretty sour and it reminds me sort of a mix of RR Temptation and Monk's Cafe somehow. Interesting and certainly worth trying if you have a chance.

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Photo of number1bum
4.2/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks as always to BeerTruth for this goodie from Ithaca.

Pours a slightly hazed golden color with a fizzy two plus inches of white head. Although it's on the fizzy side it does keep a very full, yet thin lace, and leaves a bit of stick.

The second I popped the cork out of this one I could smell the sour. I've had a handful of Wild Ales as of late and this is probably the most sour nose I've experienced. There's a lot more than just fruit going on, though; lemon zest, bready grain, a bit of sweetness even, some pepper, oak and a hint of vanilla.

The taste also starts off sour, with fruity lemon tartness especially. The nose had some sweetness but there really isn't any residual sweetness in the taste. There is some black pepper, as well. Gets very dry through the finish, with a cracker sort of dryness lingering in the mouth. Not as much oak in the taste as there is in the smell, which is too bad because it was really nice in the aroma.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with ample carbonation but also a light creaminess. It's quite dry through the finish.

As sours go this is a really good one that is quite drinkable. Really prominent sourness in both aroma and taste. Awesome job here by Ithaca.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.2/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into Stone Tulip.
Batch E!010

A - Pours gold with lots of bubbles rising to the top. A huge frothy white head that I almost pour out of the glass. Not a whole lot of lacing, but the head continue to stick around for quite some time. The looks of this wild ale are all very champagne-esk.

S - Sour/tart notes right from the start followed by some sweet fruity notes such pineapple, kiwi, and mango. A little more sweet on the nose then sour, which I like for something different. This one doesn't punch you in the face with the sour/tart, but instead, invites you in with the sweet fruity notes.

T - Here's where the sour/tart notes take over and the fruit takes a back seat. I would say a medium amount of lip-puckering on this one. This one doesn't turn my lips inside out like some wilds.

M - Light bodied, clean and refreshing, smooth/dry finish. The bubbles continue to fizz inside my mouth upon every sip, good carbonation.

D - Not super sour, so it's easier to drink then other wilds. A very good wild by Ithaca, gotta get another bottle.

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

pours a really cloudy golden color with a thick white head that fades to thick lacing. The aroma that it puts off is exceptional very sour, the yeast esters are very noticeable, the malt still comes through nicely. the taste is exactly what I would like from a sour beer the nice grapefruit citrus flavor ends on a dry note. the mouthfeel is a of a medium to heavy body with effervescence sliding up the side of the glass. a great beer, I don't think that I would drink too many of them for fear of heartburn, but still a quality product.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.2/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was a tough bottle to open, but well worth it. A huge, dense, foamy, white head dominates over an almost clear, dark gold beer with explosions of streaming carbonation. The head lasts long after the session, leaving thick patches of lace on a Brasseurs DeGarde flute.

Opens with strong, sour apple notes and a light funkiness. There is some lemon with warmth. A touch grassy and the apples turn to peaches.

A strong, sharp tang of acid cuts the sweetness down. Some spiciness with apples following through. The flavors are strong, but not heavy or overpowering. There is a long, dry, sour finish. With warmth, earthy flavors like oak are released.

Slightly chalky and definitely dry, Brute has a medium to full body with vigorous, to say the least, carbonation.

This is a great example of the style and will go well with pungent, creamy cheeses. I am tempted to make mac-n-cheese with bleu cheese. This would also be a fine conversation beer during a party.

I have subsequently had this on draught, and while it was the highlight of my trip to Ithaca, the bottled version was better.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.21/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to bmanning for this bottle.

A: Pours a hazy barnyard yellow with an unbelievably large bone-white head that is completely cratered surfare of the moon style. Bubbles in the head slowly pop as it makes its way down the glass, leaving plenty of lacing.

S: The initial nose is tart, but not overly so. Some citrus, green apple, green grape, and a little bit of earthiness. There are some hints of slightly more tropical fruits, and perhaps the faintest touch of a honey-like sweetness.

T: A little bit of moistened barnyard funkiness along with some fruity tartness. Perhaps a little bit of lemongrass in there. Vague hints of oak. Quite good but not extreme enough--I'd like a little bit more of a sour kick, but all around quite tasty and worthy of its acclaim.

M: Moderately dry, yet quite wet at the same time--it's very intriguing. It feels like the back portion of my palate is getting quite a bit of acidic dryness while the front is feeling the sweetness--I've never had a beer so divide my taste buds before. The carbonation is good--high for a beer in general but definitely not too much for the style. A slight puckering effect, making this a much more sessionable wild than most. The use of champagne yeast is certainly evident.

D: With the low alcohol level, thin body, and agreeable amount of carbonation, this is one of the most drinkable sours that I've had, and I'll definitely be looking for some more of this.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.21/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: poured a bubbly golden yellow in color with pale yellow highlights and a thin bubbly head that left slight wisps of lacing sticking to the glass.

S: plenty of funky brett was noticeable upfront on the nose with great citrusy notes, oaky wood character, mild vinegar coming through and slight vinous fruit.

5. The funky brett character was more apparent on the palate alongside some citrusy twang, very nice oaky barrel accents, champagney bubbly dry flavor accompanied by vinous fruit notes and a touch of vanilla.

M: the brew was medium in body with a good amount of bubbly carbonation which had a sweet, bretty funky, oaky, citrusy, mild vinous tart and dry finish.

O: thought it was a solid brew all around and the yeast definitely brought out champange characteristics.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

09/14/11- Review of a 750 mL from Batch El037. Before I begin, I'll just inform you that my first bottle blew up inexplicably in my cellar. It was kindly replaced by Ithaca (along with a very nice glass to boot). This was poured into this very glass.
A: Yellow golden with a slight glow, nice white head.
S: Nice rustic apple, angel food cake, slight honey and caramel with a citrus (tangerine). Excellent.
T: Mild tartness, good white wine acidity, fruitiness, bitter woodiness. Good.
M: Good creamy froth, medium body, mild, crisp finish.
O: Great. Well balanced and doesn't attack your taste buds. The acidity is great.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, pale straw color with full, large bubbled white head. Decent retention and no lacing. Smell is a light blend of straw, white grape, sour apple and a tart sourness. Taste mimics smell but is a little more agressive and brings hints of oak. Body is medium but very spritzy due to the champage yeasts. Fantastic brew, while the flavors are not the most complex, this is one of the best overall blends of simple ingredients in a wild ale.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer easily produces a three-finger thick, pale, cream colored head in my 25cl tulip. The beer is a murky, pale amber color that shows an almost completely opaque, yellow, straw color when held up to the light. The aroma is pleasingly tart but with a slightly sweet, fruity, white wine grape like aroma. There is an interesting note that is sort of a cross between musk melon, honeydew and the sweat from someone who drank too much wine the night before. Fruit aromas of Muscat grapes, a musky tropical fruit, some tart / sweet apple and a touch of star fruit are all found in the aroma too. I like how the funkiness has taken a turn that I have never quite experienced in a beer before, the Brett is much more sweaty, but in a clean non-barnyard way, than usual.

Wow, much more dry and tart than I was expecting; with all of the fruit notes in the aroma I expected there to be a fair amount of sweetness left in this beer, but there is none at all. While bone dry this still has a nice, creamy body to it that is also note hindered by the fizzy carbonation that causes the beer to foam up as it rolls across the tongue. The texture of this beer is quite exquisite. The oak character here is quite soft and subtle; actually it is most noticed by it effect on the texture of this beer. There is a touch of oak-spiciness towards the finish as well as a slight woody oak note.

My second pour of this has me noticing a spicy oak component in the aroma that I did not pull out the first time around. Flavors of Lactic acid define the sourness in this brew, which, along with the oak really makes this seem like a dry, tart, oaked white wine. While in many ways this is much like a Lambic, it has a much softer feel to it somehow. Certainly the acidity is not approaching the levels of a hard Lambic and the funkiness is actually quite subtle (apart from the sourness). This does have a touch of the sweatiness that was noticeable in the aroma, as well as a touch of mustiness to it. As the beer warms up it picks up just a hint of sweetness, which does a good job of accentuating a nice white wine grape fruitiness.

A tasty beer, though it could use a boost in complexity (more funk would certainly suit me right). The aroma definitely is quite a bit more complex than the flavor, it promises ample funk and a substantial fruitiness that the flavor just doesn't quite deliver upon. Still this is quite enjoyable and it is quite easy for me to finish off this 750ml bottle.

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Photo of hooliganlife
4.23/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

to celebrate an awesome 2009...

pours a semi bright golden haze. big fluffy white head lets you know there was champagne yeast used.

sour grapes, barnyard funk, bright citrus, floral, light oak

sour up front, but not overpowering. light lemon zest, and white grape. a hint of sour apple. light hints of oak. the finish is a dry malty taste with a light sour flavor.

very carbonated. light body overall. tingles the mouth all over.

a GREAT sour. most of what i have had from the east coast has been rather dry and very sour. this is more well rounded which makes it perfect for anyone wanting to try something new.

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Photo of philbe311
4.23/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - An extremely hazy pale lemony yellow color... Did I mention hazy??? Even with the haze, this one has a certain glow about it... One fingers worth of fluffy slightly rocky white head sits a a tap... Loaded with fast paced carbonation...

S - Green Apples... Sour lemons... Wheat... Yeast... Some white grapes...

T - Granny Smith Apples... Lemon Zest... Tart peaches... A pinch of salt... Yeast... The funkiness of the brett is present, but not overwhelming... More tart than funk, but that's okay by me...

M - Light to medium body... Highly fizzy, yet quite sturdy... Even and consistent... Dry... Soft... Delicate... Sophisticated...

D - I could drink this all day and night long, each and every day... Overall, this one is better than the sums of it's parts... I would gladly move aside most other beers for another oppurtunity to be reunited with this one... This one is anything but a Brute... Awesome beer...

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
4.23/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL corked bottle. When I popped the cork it overflowed a little, like champagne. No surprise there I guess, given it's got champagne yeast in it.

Very nice looking brew!! Tan in color and relatively hazy clarity. Great big white fluffy head that lasted a long time and left tons of thick lacing.

Smell is a little sweet and a little sour, with funky apples and light fruits, and a touch of grains.

Taste is bold and very flavorful. Great sourness along with apples and tangerines seem to come through first, followed by a great brett funkiness.

Feel is light bodied and very carbonated, almost champagne like in body but sour ale like in taste. Aftertaste is sour apples and crabapples.

Overall it's a fantastic creation that I'll certainly be having again and again!!

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Photo of brystmar
4.23/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Blind Tiger during VSK. Pretty sure this was the most recent vintage (E!037).

Pours a deliciously hazy gold with plenty of foamy white head up top. Leaves good lace on my glass as the drink continues. Aroma is quite dry with effervescent champagne yeast and grapes imparting funk and complexity. Dry and yeasty, grassy, mild hops, some tartness.

Dry and surprisingly smooth on the palate. Fruity with lots of funk hanging in the balance. Mild fruits and some citrus to finish things off, and just the right amount of tartness to separate this baby from its champagne cousins. Body is much more full than I remembered which, although nice, leaves me wanting more.

I recall Brute having more carbonation (and it really needs that), so I assume the over-carbonation issue the bartenders initially had when it was tapped was over-corrected by dialing back the CO2 too far. Shame.

Overall, I didn't remember Brute being this good. I've now had every batch; batches 1 & 2 are wildly different from both each other and the two more recent releases. 2 still remains my favorite, but any Brute is always worth seeking out.

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Brute from Ithaca Beer Company
4.39 out of 5 based on 843 ratings.
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