Sometimes I crave a good rye beer – and nothing makes one better than actually being brewed with all rye malts, and also being aged in rye barrels! Ithaca Beer Company has done exactly that with their Old Habit, which is part of their Excelsior lineup of vintage beers. This is a big 9% rye beer than comes in a clean and classy 750ml wine shaped bottle. It is brewed with three varieties of rye malt, and is aged in Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey barrels from the Heaven Hill Distillery.
So if you like rye beers and you see one of the bottles on the shelf at your local beer or liquor store… Buy many! I mean, buy them all! This is truly a one of a kind beer, and I have yet to find a rye beer that possesses the same unique, and potent distinct rye malt and rye barrel flavors as does the Old Habit. I just popped a few in the cellar for ageing, and I am madly excited to see what happens in 3 or 4 years!
The Old Habit is rich and full of flavor. This beer is not a stepping stone, and its one of the reasons why I love it so much. There is a big blast of potent flavors in here, and they all poses a beautifully distinct rye character. Its just awesome. It will pour out with a huge billow of excitement and build a nice inch and a half to 2 inch light brown, almost reddish foamy head. The beer itself is a deep mahogany brown showing ruby reds, garnet, and hints of black everywhere.
Instantly the nose hit me and made me smile. Right away its a combination of rye malt and caramel sweetness. Its big and lush with plenty of brown sugar. Soon though the beer’s trademark comes in to show its real colors. Huge aromas of oak, rye barrels, and whiskey pour through your senses and crate a very alluring beer that you have most likely never smelled before. I certainly hadn’t. But I’m glad I have now!
The flavor matches the nose in both aroma and impression. Big rye malt sweetness is accompanied by richly sweet oak, dry whiskey, and touches of spice. Toffee and caramel show waves of sweetness, but are dried out and overpowered by whiskey soaked wood and hints of dark fruit. Hints of dark cherries and maybe raspberries make their way in the back. So does a balancing hop bitterness helping round of this creamy and succulent beer. Really, succulent is the right adjective to describe this beer. Find it, and enjoy it. I promise.