ITHACA, NEW YORK
Opened summer ’23 in a high-ceilinged 8,000 square-foot warehouse a few blocks from the town center, PERSONAL BEST BREWING is helping to lead Ithaca’s downtown revitalization. A multifarious concrete floored venue with roomy picnic-tabled pub area, large overhead-doored indoor shuffleboard room and grassy enclosed biergarten (with firepits and outdoor games), Personal Best’s entrepreneurial head brewer, Anthony Cesari, slung 22 precision-detailed beers on my initial November ’23 Saturday afternoon sojourn.
A former city health club, Personal Best got the wheels in motion fairly quickly for an independent microbrewery. Cesari’s lively suds depend on efficient stylistic clarity, mild recipe risking, unconfined malted hop blends and the beautiful Finger Lakes water source.
Whereas nearby Revelry Yards relies on steadfast authenticity re-creating popular beer styles, Personal Best has a more expansive lineup of individually diversified, wider ranging and impressively meticulous brews.
At the 20 wood-seat, slate-topped central bar, there’s a gray brick-walled draught station and to the left are the sterling state-of-the-art silver brew tanks and fermenters. A small right side kitchen serves fine pub fare. Wood beams, lights and pipes hang from the exposed wood-trestle ceiling.
Crisply dry-hopped Italian pilsner, Rental Shoes, let lemon-candied herbage pick up floral-spiced perfuming over corny pilsner malts.
Maize-dried spelt and millet graining anchored Nostalgic Value, a rustic corn lager with musty barnyard acridity countering mild citrus spicing.
Festive autumn lager, Ritual Consumption, pleated leafy hop astringency into desiccated orange spicing and musty raw grained minerality.
Peculiar rye lager variant, Short Ride, utilized IPA-related Nelson Sauvin and Moteuka hops to enable lemony green grape and guava souring to penetrate its dry rye bed.
Musky English pale ale, Cone Poem, retained a dry herbal fungi mustiness for its dusky floral-daubed peach and apricot splotch.
Another English-styled ‘pub ale,’ Cult Status, splattered lemon zest across rye-dried pumpernickel, peppery herbage and papery gluiness.
Sea-salted coriander consumed the cologne-perfumed lemon liming of Gose Dubbed Over, a ‘tart wheat ale’ with champagne grape esters reaching its acidulated malt base.
Meanwhile, classic sea-salted coriander spicing gained mild limey bittering and wispy herbage for Adult Gose Tour, a grassy-hopped gose.
Summery kolsch, Another Scorcher, let champagne-sparkled green grape esters get secured by grassy hop astringency and grainy pilsner malting.
Sweet flaked brown rice, toasted cereal graining and creamed corn sugaring punctuated Cold Spring Helles Bock, spurting spritzy lemon fizz over its brown bread base.
Honeyed wheat dough sweetened mild hefeweizen, Billowing Cumulus, slighting its dried banana, spiced orange and rotted apricot fruiting.
Fruity Pebbles-inspired sour wheat ale, Fruity Treble, coalesced pineapple tartness, oaken cherry musting, key lime bittering and vinous green grape esters with light lemongrass pungency over acidulated wheat dryness.
Zesty pink guava and bittersweet strawberry adjuncts gained light milk-sugared vanilla creaming for Blushing Meadows, a striking sour IPA with lemony lime-salted grapefruit, peach and mango remnants.
Sessionable Simcoe-Mosiac-hopped India Pale Ale, Today’s Active Lifestyles, brought sunshiny lemon-peeled yellow grapefruit bittering to dry pine resin and grainy malt earthiness.
Dryly offbeat Imperial IPA, Gear Monger, permitted gin-soaked grapefruit, mandarin orange and pineapple tanginess to gain lightly cologne-soaked pine lacquering.
West Coast styled IPA, Pilot Season, sprayed yellow grapefruit misting and lightly embittered orange rind musk on dry wood tones over raw honeyed pale malts.
Peachy yellow grapefruit salted Another Green Whirl, a dry-hopped NEIPA, absorbed minty pine needling and grassy cannabis snips.
Another dry-hopped NEIPA, Fear Of Heights, piled sunny Citra-hopped grapefruit, orange and pineapple tanginess to sweet oats-flaked pale malting.
Milk-sugared Imperial Sour Smoothie, Personal Trainer, sprung peach-pureed blackberry and raspberry tartness upon oats-flaked wheat creaming, allowing tertiary lemon limed bittering, champagne-like saison yeast and dry rum snips to flutter.
Lessly milk-sugared Imperial Sour Ale, Immersion Bender, let bright tropical fruiting ensconce mild oats-flaked white wheat creaming. Zesty pineapple-juiced orange concentrate, salty guava-passionfruit-kiwi conflux and tangy tangerine twist picked up latent vodka kick, Margarita-like lime juicing, hard-candied citric sourness and minty floral riffs.
Nifty autumnal Imperial brown ale, Pumpkin Spice Latte, placed milk-sugared latte creaming atop sweet brown chocolate, leaving pumpkin-spiced nutmeg and cinnamon seasoning on the bourbon vanilla-daubed espresso back end.
Dry Irish Stout, Short Shift, posted dark-roast coffee bittering and toasted pumpernickel breading to dewy peat and blanched hazelnut residue above dark cocoa powdering.