In brewing its winter seasonal Cold Front, upstate New York's Ithaca Beer Company made the unorthodox decision to use a Belgian Farmhouse ale strain. The choice is unusual because the beers made with this strain are typically saisons, light and refreshing beers for the summer. Ithaca takes this yeast out of its typical setting and integrates it into an amber beer with caramel malt flavors more appropriate to the holiday season.
The advantage that the Ithaca brewers get from this choice is that the yeasts already produce many of the spicy and clove flavors that we associate with winter warmers. The decision not to root blindly through the spice rack yields a beer that integrates clove, nutmeg, and pepper notes much more gracefully. Cold Front pours with a light amber color and yields gentle caramel notes and a light herbal hoppy character along with the spices.