AUBURN, Maine — Brewers Ben Low and Matt Johannes announced today that they plan to open Side By Each Brewing Co. at 1110 Minot Avenue in Auburn this winter. They plan to offer an eclectic, frequently changing menu of 12 or more beers, in styles to include IPAs, sours, Belgian and British style ales, German lagers and wheat beers, barrel-aged specialties, and new creations.
“We like drinking and brewing just about any kind of beer, if it’s made well,” Johannes said. “So the consistent theme of our lineup will be quality, not style. We’ll never put a beer on tap if we’re not proud of it.”
Side by Each will also operate as a café, serving a full range of coffee and espresso drinks with coffee and other ingredients, as well as equipment, supplied by Portland’s Coffee By Design.
“The beer and coffee businesses dovetail perfectly,” Low said. “We’re already going to have a great, casual, welcoming space for enjoying our beer, so why not add another locally crafted drink offering, especially one that’s not well represented here? Coffeehouses and pubs are both community spaces for friends, families, and all kinds of people to gather, and that’s what we want Side By Each to be.”
Rounding out the mix of offerings at the former Hammond Tractor location in Auburn, Pinky D’s Poutine Factory will occupy a kitchen in the building and provide counter service, serving the French fry, cheese curd, and sauce concoctions that have made owner Randy Smith’s food truck a mainstay of local festivals and other events.
“Poutine is what we’re known for, and several different types of it will be the core of the menu,” Smith said. “But we’re also going to do some unique things with wings, and we’ll have a kids menu, salads, wraps and some other options, too.”
After being voted Portland’s best food truck in 2017, and with a huge following from years of service at fairs, beer festivals, and private events, the Lisbon-based Smith said that the partnership with Androscoggin County’s newest brewery offered an ideal vehicle for a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“People at events always ask us where they can get our poutine on a regular basis,” Smith said. “Now, I’ll be able to tell them there’s a spot where they can find the poutine, along with great, one-of-a-kind beer, in a spot where there aren’t many choices for casual lunch and dinner.”
Their business will operate a Community Supported Brewing program, the brewers announced. “It’s similar in concept to Community Supported Agriculture farm shares,” Low said. “People pay up front in the winter for a year’s supply of beer, which helps us with cash in the slower season, and in return they get a substantial discount on our beer and everything else we sell, along with some other great benefits. They get a voice in what we choose to brew, and we get great feedback on our beer, a dedicated core group of customers, and awesome word-of-mouth.”
Before opening, Side By Each is offering membership in a Founders Community for their Community Supported Brewing program, Low explained. “In return for a small part of the operating capital a new brewery needs to get going, we’ll be offering a limited number of memberships to individuals, families, and businesses that will give them lifetime discounts on the annual CSB shares, plus some fun opportunities like naming pieces of equipment. Along with beer lovers, we think this will be popular with local businesses, since it offers them some nice exposure and long-term fringe benefits for employees.”
The co-owners noted that full information on the CSB programs are available at sidebyeachbrewing.com, and that they are happy to answer questions from interested individuals and businesses.
While Side By Each’s Community Supported Brewing concept isn’t unique, it is unusual, Low said. “There are a handful of other breweries around the country who have done this, but we’re breaking new ground with some of our own ideas. Certainly the degree of community involvement is unusual for a new brewery,” he said.
The CSB program isn’t solely financial, Johannes added. “It’s a core part of our business to educate the community about what we do and to get their ideas about what beer we should make and the kind of experience they’re looking for,” he said.
Co-owners Johannes and Low emphasized their commitment to offering something new to the community. “Working closely with the community is our number one guiding principle,” Johannes said. “It’s going to be a huge factor in everything we do. And it’s part of why we chose Side By Each as our name, as a nod to the Franco-American heritage of the Auburn and Lewiston areas. Plus we’ve got two guys brewing side by each, beer and coffee side by each, folks from the community gathering side by each.”
Low was Director of Brewing Operations at Baxter Brewing Co. in nearby Lewiston from shortly after its opening until 2017, after several years at Gritty McDuff’s in Portland, where he first brewed professionally after pursuing a Ph.D. in ancient Roman literature and history. Johannes was until last winter head brewer at Baxter Brewing Co. after a career in theater, including a stint as crew chief for Sesame Street Live.
Both expressed their gratitude for the support of their former employer as they start their new venture nearby. “As we expected, the folks at Baxter have been great,” Johannes said. “The craft brewing community has always valued collaboration over competition, and that’s one of the things we love about it.”
“We can’t wait for Baxter’s new taproom to open,” Low added. “That’s going to be a great addition to the local beer scene, and with us opening in a few months, along with the great craft breweries and craft beer bars already in town, the Auburn and Lewiston area is really going to be a new hotspot in the Maine beer landscape.”
Low and Johannes expect construction and equipment sourcing, both already well underway, to take several months, but hope to be open around the end of the year. “We’ve got a lot to get done and don’t want to put a date on it yet,” Johannes said. “But we’re planning on it being cold out when we open, so we’ll have a warm welcome for everyone who likes well-made beer, awesome coffee, and a great place to enjoy them side by each.”