SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

February 26, 2014

'A million bottles of beer'

New home means double the production for brewery

The bottling machine at the new Ipswich Ale Brewery is up and running — and it’s fast.

Maybe too fast, said company president Rob Martin.

The bottles quickly run down the line where they are filled, capped and labeled before being shipped.

“We were running up to 200 bottles per minute, but the beer pump couldn’t keep up,” Martin said. “We are running about 160 right now. We need a new pump.”

In comparison, they were running about 130 bottles per minute at the old brewery, he said.

Nearly two months since Ipswich Ale moved into its new 30,000-square-foot space, there are still a few kinks to work out and a few additional tanks to install in the fermentation cellar, Martin said. But overall, production has been smooth.

A much-anticipated brew pub is expected to open in November, he said.

The new brewery has been a long time coming. The company bought the former Soffron Brothers clam-processing plant in 2009. The building, which had been vacant for more than a decade, needed extensive renovations and an expansion. It’s located between Washington and Central streets in downtown Ipswich, off Brown Square.

The brewery operation was previously crammed into a rented space with just 8,000 square feet on Hayward Street. Besides accommodating the new bottling equipment, the new facility allows for more than double the production.

The company officially cleared out of the old location on Dec. 31 at 8:35 p.m. without much fanfare.

“I slipped a thank-you note with the key under the door,” Martin said.

From the offices on the second floor of the new brewery, there are views of almost every aspect of the production, including packaging and tanks.

“Everything is running, but we are refining the process for it to run the way we want,” Martin said.

In addition to brewing beer, the company makes Mercury soda pop, an operation that involves three tanks tucked into a corner of the packaging area. On a recent morning, the smell of spices filled the room as a worker prepared a batch of the company’s popular root beer.

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