It looks like Ithaca is making a go of it. The vaiety box has snazzy multi-coloured branding and the brewery has expanded its facility in the south-end of town allowing it to expand from 3,000 barrels in 2003 to 10,000 - and even moved into homebrewing supplies. Ithaca itself, home of Cornell University and its extensive agriculture department, is a wee bit back-to-the-landy, a bit hackysacky, so supporting homebrew may be a big thing for a micro to try. This April 2005 article from The Ithacan says this is the brewer's sixth year and that they have developed, in co-operation with Cornell, a Double IPA with NY state local hops. Must find it.
- Nut Brown Ale: When I tried this beer last year it was too frigid out of the fridge and, so, unbalanced. Now, at room temperature, there is all that limey hop and chalky hop but it is supported by a full palate of malts, well balanced. I like it much better at this temperature - which is a good lesson in ale. Each beer has its own logic. Even though a fairly moderate 5% and quite dry, it makes for a good sipping ale.
- Apricot Wheat: One of the ones I did not try last year, Ithaca's version is a very dry version of this now fairly common form of summer beer. It has lots of grassy sauvignon blanc flavours from the wheat and a nice unsweetened unsyrupy apricot. It is yellow and a bit cloudy under show white rim with a lot of bright effervescence to meet the demands of the acidity. The fruit and the hops merge very nicely giving structure. Unlike me, the BAs show some difference of opinion over this brew.
- Pale Ale: You know what? I now think I did not review this beer last year. What do you think of that? It's a shame as this ale is a classic example of what a good pale ale should be. It has a great dry grainy edge, honestly proud of the fact that this is a bread-like product. Next you hit some toffee crystal malt nutty sweetness framed by bitter and green hops in the middle. It is all enriched with a tangy and fruiy yeast strain that I would think is the same as the Nut Brown Ale, above. It is somewhat maltier than you average pale ale which would make me think that is is more like a low end ESB...but what do I know? All the advocates know one thing - they like it.
- Cascazilla Red Ale: Is this the Double IPA of myth and lore I mentioned above? Apparently not. It bills itself as a monstorously hopped red ale (nice label) but I would think it is a big US style IPA bomb. Can't we just agree? Anyway, it pours a deep amber with a tan head with a big flowery herbal hop nose. The big flavour is the hop with a weedy herby green zang in the front half of the mouth with only a slight bitter edge in your cheeks and and the back of the throat. It is supported but, let's be frank, no balanced by sweet malt and some pear fruity pale malt. The yeast adds a nice creamy richness. Good clean green end. Really quite swell at 6.5% - if you are mad for hops.