When people ask me where I’m from, I tend to be a smartass and say “the entire East Coast.” It’s not completely hyperbolic, seeing that I’ve lived in 5 different states up and down the coast. But while I might proudly call the Philly metro area my home, there will always be a special place in my heart for Upstate NY.
And in Upstate there’s a fantastic city called Ithaca, bordering the beautiful Finger Lakes Wine Region. Ithaca has a green reputation, Cornell University (Go Big Red!), and a steadily growing brewery: Ithaca Beer Co., nicknamed “The Spirit of the Finger Lakes.” And it’s “gorges” … yes, that’s an inside joke. Look it up.
I know my Uncle Larry—Cornell alum and Ithaca native for at least 30+ years (probably more)—favors Ithaca’s Nut Brown Ale; a lot of folks in NY do. For me though, I have to hand it to Ithaca’s seasonal offerings and its Excelsior! series. The other day, while perusing the cold case at my local Wegmans (yet another jewel of Upstate NY), I heard a six-pack of Ithaca’s Cold Front, a Belgian Amber Ale, calling my name.
According to Ithaca’s website:
Cold Front is our Belgian-style Amber Ale brewed in autumn to keep us inspired as the days grow shorter and the nights colder. It’s brewed with European Malts and hops and fermented with a legendary Belgian ‘Farmhouse’ yeast.
Cold Front stands at 7.2% ABV, technically outside the prescribed limits of a “session beer,” but it’s extremely drinkable as a pint or two. The beer pours a deep amber brown with a fluffy white head. A spicy, Belgian yeast aroma erupted from the glass as I poured—I knew this would be good.
Taking a whiff, the nose is chock-full of spice. Taking my first sip, I’m greeted with a deep caramely sweetness with just the hint of dark stone fruit. Cold Front finishes slightly dry, demanding the drinker to take sip after sip.
What I find particularly clever is that Ithaca’s spring seasonal is called Ground Break. It’s a hoppy American Saison that celebrates spring and the waning of winter. As someone who spent five winters in NY, I can appreciate the care Ithaca’s brewers take to remind us that there are good (and warmer!) things around the bend.