Ground Break bottle and glass

Ithaca Beer Ground Break

Ithaca Beer Co Ground Break


  • Tropical flower, pear
  • Pungent hops and spice
  • Mild; coconut

There’s some big news coming up for the Long Island beer community, Long Island Craft Beer Week, the joining of the growing craft-breweries, and the bars that serve them, in a week-long event this May. I sent my helpers, Melba and Jon, to schmooze the folks in the industry and learn more about the event, and, while they were there, they met up with Bobby G from The Cortland in Bay Shore. Bobby, a fan of the site, offered to host a DnU night, so there is more big news:

Mark your calendars! March 10, 2011 is our kick-off DnU Night Out! We’ll be posting more details as the night comes closer, but there will be drink specials and giveaways and other things that we’ll think of. As part of our DnU Night Out, I’ll be reviewing a New York brewery’s beer that’s available at The Cortland every Thursday until the event. Today, it’s Ithaca Beer Co. Ground Break, an American saison beer with rye and Belgian and American yeasts.

Ground Break bottle and glass

**Ithaca Beer Co** *Ground Break.* Thank you, Allison and **Ithaca Beer Co.**, for the image.

Saisons were low-alcohol ales served to farm workers during the harvest season. Beer was safer to drink than water, so the beer was used a lot like energy water is today—for hydration, except the marketing wasn’t quite so hyperbolic. American saisons, on the other hand, tend to have higher alcohol than standard ales, up to 8%. Ground Break is 6%.

It’s an interesting beer. It’s hoppiness is similar to an IPA, but the combination of rye in the malt and the Belgian yeasts give the ale a savory, almost dunkle-like, quality to it. There’s pear and orchid scents, followed by the flavor of warm spice from the hops. It’s bitter up-front, but that bitterness doesn’t linger on the finish. Instead, I tasted something that reminiscent of coconut. For a pale ale, it’s incredibly complex, and I bet I’d find it would trigger different flavors with each bottle.

Like all saisons, Ground Break is a seasonal, literally, and it’s available from February to April. The Cortland has it for $6 a bottle, and I’ve seen Ithaca Beer in supermarkets and beer distributors around the area, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find in New York. Ithaca Beer also has distributors in New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Besides Ground Break, Ithaca Beer makes several other varieties including Apricot Wheat, available all year and a Mrs. Ferment’s family-favorite.

Ground Break is the first featured New York beer available at The Cortland that we’re reviewing. Every Thursday up to March 10th, we’ll review another beer. Join us March 10th at The Cortland in Bay Shore (time still to be determined) for our first DnU Night Out!