History: Along the northern shore of Massachusetts where the cold, salty waves crash against the sand of Crane Beach, sits the small city of Ipswich. It was 1991 when locals Paul Silva and Jim Bovae were tired of drinking same old beer in the same old places. So they started their own spot to make beer their way. This was the founding of Ipswich Ale Brewery. “We were one of the first local breweries on the North Shore,” says Ipswich Ale Brewery Marketing and Event Manager, Mary Gormley. As one might expect with a brewery, Ipswich coasted on their beer sales for a long time. It wasn’t until current Ipswich Ale Brewery President Rob Martin took over that a few changes started to take place. Gormley tells us Martin has been with the brewery since its inception doing everything from brewing the beer to driving the delivery truck. His most important change in our eyes? Free beer Friday. I wish I wasn’t kidding, but I am; no, it was soda. He wanted something for the kids to drink. Gormley recalls how serious he was about this when testing the initial soda recipes. “I don’t think he even let an adult try it,” she said. Martin first introduced soda in 2000 under the name “Mercury Soda Pop” because Mercury Brewing Company is the parent company of Ipswich Ale Brewing. It was only recently that the soda was renamed “Ipswich Soda Pop.” Makes more sense, right? I’d like to market myself as Brad Pitt, but in reality I’m a dude who just ate mac and cheese over his sink like a rat. I embrace it. Anyway, I’m single. As for the soda, Ipswich has up to as many as ten flavors at a given time, with plans for more. Gormley says the brewery will soon be opening its own restaurant and will be featuring exclusive in-house soda flavors that, if they test well, could be bottled in the future. All Ipswich Soda is caffeine-free, gluten-free, and made with pure cane sugar. Root beer and orange cream are the top-sellers, according to Gormley. If you’re in the Ipswich area, stop in for a popular West Coast IPA and order up one of those in-house sodas for us. In the meantime, we’ll try this one for you.
Where to get: Unfortunately for the masses, the appeal of some of these little soda bottles is… you gotta be there to try it, man. Ipswich Ale Brewery is located at 2 Brewery Place, Ipswich, MA 01938. North Shore, Massachusetts: you’re in luck. The rest of us: time to plan a road trip. But hey, you can always beg the brewery (we did).
Nose: Orange Creamsicle; Lifesaver Orange Swirl Pops (R.I.P.). Lots of creamy orange vanilla smells. What you want going on in your nose with an orange cream soda.
Taste: Orange soda; vanilla; creaminess; tartness. At the beginning of each sip, this soda is distinctly orange in flavor, more of a standard orange soda than orange cream. Then there’s a fast rush of sugar with light carbonation and the soda’s flavor transforms into what’s on the label. You taste sweet orange creamsicle rich in vanilla and orange rind flavors. You also get a little bit of lingering acidity and tartness for balance. The orange flavor is bold near the end of each sip just before the finish. It’s like a rollercoaster of orange, then creamy vanilla-orange, and back to classic orange again. The classic orange flavor in this is more potent than most orange creams.
Finish: Intense creamy vanilla encased in a thin coating of orange. Exquisite. Best part of the soda.
Rating: What works about Ipswich Orange Cream Soda is that it has both creamy vanilla and bold orange flavors in it. There’s even a little bit of tartness that you expect with standard orange soda, but not often present in orange cream sodas. It works really well in tandem with the signature orange creamsicle taste to provide balance in the flavor profile. The orange flavor in this is executed to near perfection, while the creamy vanilla really shines on the finish. The only drawback we can find with this soda is the tartness on the backend of each sip. It lingers just a touch too long and, at times, comes off a little bitter. But this is a minor gripe for an excellent orange cream soda that should you should put on your radar. On the soda side of things, Ipswich Ale Brewing is known for their orange cream and it shows. Its flavors are luscious and robust and it’s mouth feel is pleasing. I wish the same could’ve been said for my Friday night. Tinder really fed me a monster this weekend. Do yourself a favor and find a way to get a hold of this somehow. That big orange flavor is a component more orange creams would be well-served to try and one Ipswich has already bottled and readied for your mouth.