Posted on April 1, 2015 by Andrea Six
[UPDATE: This ice cream shop is no longer open on East Bay Street.]
Hurry up and finish up at the restaurants on River Street and head upstairs for a little dessert, because Exit Strategy Icecreamists is now open at 310 E. Bay St. But it’s not exactly traditional ice cream they’re selling in their 2,600 square-foot shop. It’s frozen custard.
But not just frozen custard; it’s craft beer-infused frozen custard. Chocolate stout, raspberry lambic, smoked porter and spiced saison are just some of the flavors they have.
“Some people come in and are like, ‘Eww craft beer and ice cream.’ But when they try it, they get it,” said Grafton Kent, who runs the shop with Lisa Smith. “And we have your traditional ice cream flavors: butter pecan, cookies and cream, rocky road, chocolate fetish, some of the classics, so it will cater to everyone.”
Their new store that overlooks River Street might have just opened in February, but they’ve been making the ice cream in midtown, past the famous Forsyth Park, since 2012. Kent, a former pro baseball player, and Smith, a pharmacist, became neighbors, then friends and business partners.
Smith was a craft beer enthusiast, who’d been making her own brews. She actually came up with the ‘ice cream’ idea while with her sister on a road trip in Montana, where they found an ice cream shop directly across from a brewery. And after returning to Savannah, she told Kent about the idea and they went for it, with Smith’s pharmaceutical background playing a key part to their success.
That’s why they’re called “Icecreamists” – because they have a science background instead of a culinary one. It wasn’t just as simple as pouring beer over ice cream.
“If you just pour craft beer into ice cream it’s going to come out hard as a rock, because craft beer is mostly water,” said Kent. “It’s good maybe for a week, because the water will basically crystalize, a.k.a. freezer burn.”
Creating their craft beer-infused custard was a largely trial-and-error process, with more error according to Kent, but when they finally did get it just right, they started selling pints and push pops at local stores, including the Beer Growler, The Distillery, Whole Foods and Chu’s on Tybee Island, and they even had a cart at the Farmer’s Market in Forsyth Park.
Now they distribute their pints to Hilton Head Island and ship them to different places in Florida and New York and are even in talks with a group from India who wants to sell their custard across seas.
“I think we have some really cool recipes and some innovative ideas, ” said Kent. “What we offer is different – we make ice cream cookies, ice cream sandwiches and wine sorbets. We do an unbelievable cherry wine sorbet.”
Their signature drink, the Delta V, is a coffee float with vanilla, two shots of espresso and steamed milk, which is poured over their Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean ice cream, melting and sweetening the ice cream.
They encourage their more skeptical customers to try the raspberry lambic, which is made with a fruit beer they import from Belgium.
“It’s a really almost like a cider, a bit sweeter, but a kind of sweet tart if you will,” said Kent. “I think that’s a good starter ice cream for folks because we don’t add sugar to our ice cream, so it kind of ends in more of a slightly malty finish.”
Their most popular flavors are the chocolate stout, the coffee stout and the Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean. But it’s the caramel porter that sells out first at Whole Foods.
Their shop is located at 310 E Bay St, open Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. And once you grab a cone, go stroll through some of the historic city squares and learn a little bit about the homes in Savannah.
For more information, call (912) 509-3960.