By Julia Burke, Beer Editor

Over the weekend I headed to the southern Finger Lakes area to visit friends; as always, the trip was essentially a beer pilgrimage. Though I came seeking the enigmatic Ithaca Beer Company Brute (it was back on the tasting room shelves for a short time only; stay tuned for a formal review), I also got a chance to visit with brewer Jeff O'Neil and check out the beginnings of Ithaca's expansion to a larger facility. Naturally, I also stocked up on Flower Power, and my friend's sister, a breastfeeding mom, appreciated Ithaca's scrumptious root beer.

Tales of the excellence of Horseheads Brewing had reached my ears after this spring's Tap NY festival, so I had to make a stop at the tasting room. I was exceedingly impressed. Look for a piece on the Horseheads brews I tasted later this week, but for now, suffice it to say I've met my chili-pepper-beer match.

Horseheads glasses
A sample of Towpath ale at Horseheads Brewing Company


Jeremy Gulich fills growlers on a busy Sunday at Horseheads


Ithaca sign
A beautiful day in Ithaca


Ithaca tasting room
The Ithaca tasting room bar


Ithaca brewmaster Jeff O'Neil explains the expansion plan, fresh pint of Flower Power in hand


Plans for Ithaca's new brewery on the walls of the current tasting room


Ithaca's sexy new bottling line


The Holy Grail