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Here we discuss everything that is Craft Beer: from exciting tastings and style guides, to homebrewing and close looks at different ingredients. Tune in weekly for articles dripping with beer geekery as my colleagues James Otey, Carl Crafts, and I explore the fascinating world of Craft Beer.
Prost!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Excelsior! : A Taste of Ithaca Brewing: Le Bleu

Sorry for the Absence, Oh Faithful readers,
It's been a busy month, but lets embark again on a beer adventure.

Recently I was visiting my girlfriend's parents in Ithaca and I stopped by the Ithaca Brewery and tried some of their beers on tap, including a smoked porter that was really tasty.  I've had many experiences with this brewery before, all of them good.  In my cellar right now lies a Brute, a Golden Sour ale, that has won acclaim from beer critics around the country.  Ive also had the good fortune of trying their 10, 11, and 12, all anniversary beers, as well as numerous other limited releases from this outstanding, yet small brewery. 


   But Ithaca is a 6 hour drive! How and why would you go to such lengths to get a few bottles of beer?!?


Since I'm lucky enough to have people in the area that are willing to pick up some bottles, I didn't have to drive all the way form NH to Ithaca.  This is an excellent way to expand your reach when it comes to beer.  Not everyone has the luxury of being able to drive across the country for every limited beer release.  If you have in-laws or friends or relatives in the area of a brewery that you like, see if you can get them to go and grab you a bottle or two at limited releases.  This way not only are you able to expand your cellar but you are also able to share the experience with others.  A perfect example is Ithaca's newest release, Le Bleu.  My girlfriend's parents were able to go to the brewery and buy a fair amount of bottles.   I tasted the Le Bleu in Ithaca with them the next time I went to visit and it was a great experience.  Here are my tasting notes for that night:

Le Bleu pours a light rose with Tangerine edges, capturing the light.  Bubbles rise up in a champagne-esque effervescence forming a fizzy head that foams up and then settles to a film, never to leave.  The aroma explodes out of the bottle with plumes of sour funk, overripe berries, equine balls, and a fresh earthiness that excites me olfactorily.  Mouthfeel is bubble, light, and appropriate, very refreshing.  The Sourness immediately hits me, first on the tongue, then filling my whole mouth.  Its not an over powering sourness, more a subtle tartness with earth, mineral notes.  The berry ismore subdued than in the aroma but comes alive in the center, adding some sweetness to the sour.  What really makes this beer pop to me is the woody barrel flavor.  It reminds me very much of Allagash Vagabond in this sense.  A nutty woodiness with loads of lactic sour funk that emanates outwards and fills the mouth till the finish, which is a bit dry and woody.  While this beer is fantastic now, I cant wait to put one down, wait for the brett to dry out a bit, and see how much the sourness evolves.

Overall, an awesome beer experience - great beer and great company.   Does it get any better than that?   Not Likely.
  Remember, think about people you know around the country who could have access to beers that you don't.  Even if they aren't into beer, ask them about it.  Who know, you might start them on the road to Beergeekdom.
Prost!

James Blauvelt

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