Ipswich Ale

    Review Date 1/15/2012   By John Staradumsky

Back in the nineties, I used to love Ipswich Ale, indeed it was one of my very favorite beers. I wish I could find some tasting notes for this classic ale, but sadly I can’t. While I did save them for a few other Ipswich brews, any thoughts I had on Ipswich’s flagship beer seem to be lost to posterity. I do recall this, though, the beer was a refreshing and highly drinkable ale sold in 64-ounce growler jugs and one-liter swing top bottles. Eventually it was available in 12-ounce six packs, too, and on draft it was always delightful.

Ipswich Brewing was founded in 1991 in the early days of the craft beer movement. In 1999, the company changed hands and became known as Mercury Brewing, though it is indeed most famous for the Ipswich brand of beer. I left New England shortly thereafter and really have not seen Ipswich beers for about ten years as I type. The closest I had come, in fact, was North Shore Ale from Max Lagers brewpub in downtown Atlanta, which was actually a tribute to Ipswich Ale and quite similar.

Still, you can imagine my delight at seeing 22-ounce bomber bottles of Ipswich Ale at Total Wine not long ago. The price was certainly right; at just $3.99 this one was truly a bargain. I snapped up several bottles, some for me and a few more to include in beery Christmas baskets I was assembling.

Ipswich says this about their beer:

Named one of the World's Ten Best Beers by Wine Spectator Magazine, Ipswich Ale has satisfied discerning craft beer drinkers since 1991. A North Shore classic, Ipswich Ale is a medium-bodied, unfiltered English style pale ale with subtle hoppiness and a smooth malty flavor.

I concur. This beer is amazing for all its simplicity. Let’s dig in and see why I say this, shall we?

Ipswich Ale pours to a hazy amber color with a thick foamy head and a soft fruity nose. Fresh bready malt is the first thing I notice here, followed by soft apple and pear fruit, and a firm herbal-grassy aroma at the end. The malt is not overly stated, allowing the 30 IBUS to really stand out, and making for a long dry lingering bitter hop finish; indeed, I think the hops are the most pronounced component here.

This is really a wonderful sipping brew. The 5.4% alcohol content by volume means you can drink a bomber by yourself if you so desire, and without too much ill effect. The bargain price means you can easily afford to. Beers like this with their flavorful simplicity are as deserving of high praise as the most mammoth of brews in my opinion. For that reason, I think Ipswich Ale deserves a full five star rating.

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, Canned