By Julia Burke, Beer Editor
I’ve encountered consistent quality and creativity from Ithaca Brewing Company’s high-end Excelsior line.
Now into the third week of my attempt to make up for lost time drinking all the craft beer I missed while abroad, I shelled out $10 for Ithaca’s 12th Anniversary release knowing it was a special-occasion beer.
This Belgian quadrupel-style beer pours a toasty four-finger head with clearly stratified lacing into a goblet, ruddy, muddy and murky with a tinge of butterscotch color.
A malt-fest of hazelnut and oatmeal cookies, the nose opens up to some lovely citrus notes reminiscent of Clementines. Ithaca’s website offers little technical information other than the use of French malts, German hops and Trappist yeast strains; the Belgian yeast certainly lends light esters to the nose and cuts the creamy richness. There’s also some earthy funk adding complexity and a solid Belgian feel.
On the palate, thick roasty sweetness announces the quad style, with the alcohol (10% ABV) only for a second overpowering. Luckily it slips back into line and merges with persistent layers of rich caramel malt for a luxurious, end-of-the-night, if-you-had-any-plans-cancel-them finish.
This is a pairing brew, begging for peanut butter and chocolate, creamy cheese and fig chutney, or a good cigar. Enjoying it on his 66th birthday, my dad confirmed that it is excellent with buttercream birthday cake iced with chocolate and kahlua.
Producer: Ithaca Brewing Company
Sample Size: 750 ml
Stemware: 12 oz. Belgian goblet