Ithaca Beer Co. – A Story about the Little Brewery that Could
Ithaca is a city with a strong sense of community and a passion for locally produced products. There are many local wineries, however people always questioned why there was no local brewery. Dan Mitchell, the founder of the Ithaca Beer Company, set out to answer that question by creating a brewery that would exemplify “The Spirit of the Finger Lakes”.
The original concept for the brewery began in 1995, but it wasn’t until December of 1997 that the brewing system was purchased. It was discovered by chance after investigating another system in Texas that looked great on paper, but wasn’t adequate for the needs of the brewery. After passing on that system Dan had some time to kill and decided to travel around. During a visit to a brewpub in Austin, TX he discovered what would become our brewing system. He went in and asked them what kind of beers they made. They told him that they had stopped making beer and were actually preparing to sell their system. After checking it out the purchase was made and a month later the system was shipped up to Ithaca.
Five months of renovation took place at our 606 Elmira Rd. location to turn it in to a functional brewery. After all the hard work renovating and setting up the equipment we were ready to begin the actual process of creating beer! The operation started small with only a couple of people (Dan and our previous Brew Master Jeff Conuel) doing everything that needed to be done to get the business off the ground. From the making of the beer, the packaging, the selling, and the mountains of paperwork necessary to operate a brewery they did it all. In December of ’98 the brewery officially opened.
Since then, we’ve come a long way and grown considerably through lots of tireless work by a very dedicated staff. Just recently our hard work paid off when we were awarded 2 medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado in 2008.
Ithaca Beer Company now sells beer throughout New York State, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Ohio. Other states are in the works as we continue to expand our capacity. Even while growing we haven’t forgotten our commitment to crafting quality beers and being a part of the community that has supported us. As always we strive to capture the spirit of the Finger Lakes and share it with you.