By Julia Burke,
Beer Editor

P5300047I’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
ABV: 10%

Sample Size: 750 ml

Stemware: 12 oz. Belgian goblet

Availability: Seaonal