The Motherlode: Ithaca Ground Break

Saisons (also known as Farmhouse Ales) and Belgians as a whole are always very dicey for me, because sometimes they are pleasant, and other times they are too much. Ithaca Beer Company has also had a spotty track record with me, although mostly a good one. So you will pardon me if I sat on Ithaca Ground Break for a few weeks.

I’m glad I got to it when I did, because it is one tremendous summer brew.

The first thing I noticed about this beer is how ordinary it looks. It’s a pale straw yellow. Although the big fluffy head resembles baked Alaska at first, it doesn’t stick around for long.

That is all immediately mitigated, however, by the aroma, which was a real eye-opener. It’s got a heavy mint-leaf character at the first sniff, quickly followed by lemon, orange rind and spring leaves. But after all that fades, the mint remains. There is a real herbal character to the aroma, with cut grass and fresh potting soil. Add a few of those Belgian “Brett” spices, and you have yourself an effervescent, nostril-clearing beer.

The first sip is the earthy, grainy soil, which is followed by that mint leaf and cracked pepper. The hops are flowery and grassy, and balance the earthiness nicely. The malts take on a pumpernickel bread character, while the hops give off traces of lime. When your senses have been worn down and overwhelmed, you notice the soil at the end with a mint chaser. It’s got a smooth, rounded feel, with a prickly fizz at the very end.

I was thoroughly impressed with the combinations of flavors that Ithaca has put together with this one. I would put this one right up there with Flower Power and Cascazilla as one of Ithaca’s best beers.

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~ by William H on April 29, 2010.

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