The Ithaca Beer (and Soda) Company has been around since 1997, but in the Philly area few of us have been able to find more than their most popular brand – “Apricot Wheat” in our local venues. Ithaca makes no bones about only distributing primarily in the New England market. “We aren’t going to do what Dogfish did – and sell in far off markets and run out of beer here at home” remarked Rusty, the tasting facilitator and brewery ambassador.
The public front of the brewery looks like a small unremarkable storefront – but behind it they are putting out lots of batches of great beer – all from a small 25bbl system running most of the day and night. The local favorite Ithaca Brew is “Flower Power” a very yummy hoppy brew that packs a punch of hops, but isn’t an overwhelming brew clocking in at 7.5abv. Lots of dry hopping leaves a lot of hop aroma, character and taste – but without aggressive bitterness. Flower Power has been in the “final four” of the National IPA Championship 4 out of the last 5 years. Rusty told me that it will soon eclipse “Apricot Wheat” as their biggest seller nationally (well, regionally).
Growth is the word for craft beer nationally, and Ithaca is growing right along with it. Say goodbye to the quaint storefront in late July or early August, when their new brewery and brew pub opens to the public. They will double their capacity and include a new smaller brewing system for some experimental brew-pub only beers.
One of Ithaca’s other ambitious projects is to plant and grow their own hop fields (NY state used to be the center of hop cultivation in the US) and bottle up some new seasonals like a Pumpkin Ale.
Even if you can’t wait for the new facility to open, if you are in the beautiful finger lakes region of NY State – or just passing through, drop by Ithaca for some Flower Power or maybe some fresh brewed non-alcoholic Ginger Beer, and enjoy the flavorful beer appreciation.