When Side By Each opened in 2019, there were lots of other breweries opening, and many if not most of them were focused on hazy, juicy, New England IPAs. We had no problem with that, and it was clearly working for them, but it just wasn’t what we wanted to do. We wanted lots of variety, plenty of room for creativity while maintaining respect for tradition, and not to be pigeonholed. So, we made a conscious choice not to brew New England IPAs regularly in our first year. We did a couple of small batches, but that was it.
A little while after our first anniversary, we decided it was time to put our own stamp on the style. We played around with lots of malt bills, hop varieties and yeast strains, until we found a combo we really liked. Playing on the idea that we’d had our arms twisted until we gave in and brewed a juicy IPA, we decided to call it “Uncle!” Not surprisingly, it’s now our best-selling beer most months.
Hops definitely steal the show, as expected in this style. We add a very small amount in the kettle, to give just a touch of bitterness. But we add a lot of hops in the fermenter. A lot. Really, quite a lot. Citra is the dominant hop, but there’s also a significant amount of El Dorado and Mosaic. The first hop addition is on the first day of fermentation – this early addition bonds some of the hops with the active yeast, which creates complex hop aromas and also contributes to the lasting haze of this beer. The second addition is after cold crashing, which lends a cleaner, brighter hop character. This hop combo has a nice mix of citrus and tropical notes, aggressive but not harsh.
While the hops are most important in this style, malt does matter! Uncle’s base is pale ale malt, with big doses of malted wheat and flaked oats. Those two add a lot of body and some haze. Yeast is a big deal here too. We had a lot of fun trying strains that would produce a stable haze, the big fruity flavors we wanted, and that would be reasonably easy to work with. Our experiments led us to a yeast bred for kveik, a Norwegian farmhouse ale. This is a crazy strain, producing some incredible fruity flavors (orange juice!), while fermenting at an insanely high temperature.
New England IPAs pair nicely with spicy foods like wings, greasy stuff like fried pickles, and aged goat cheeses like Humboldt Fog.
ABV: 5.9%, Bitterness in IBU: 11, Color SRM: 4, Fermentation Temp: 28C start, rises to ~35C, Grain to Glass: 16 days