Former Baxter Brewing Co. employees opening Auburn brewery

BY Staff

Courtesy / Side By Each Brewing Co.
Courtesy / Side By Each Brewing Co.
Brewers Ben Low and Matt Johannes announced plans to open Side By Each Brewing Co. in the former Tractor Supply building at 1110 Minot Ave. in Auburn by the end of the year.

Two former employees of Lewiston’s Baxter Brewing Co. are opening a new brewery in Auburn that will include a community-based beer buying program and partner with local food and coffee retailers.
Brewers Ben Low and Matt Johannes announced that they plan to open Side By Each Brewing Co. in the former Tractor Supply building at 1110 Minot Ave. in Auburn by the end of the year.
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. Johannes was head brewer at Baxter Brewing Co. until last winter.
The building will include a kitchen for Pinky D’s Poutine Factory, which will provide counter service. Pinky D’s, owned by Randy Smith, has been serving poutine — a mix of french fries, cheese curd and sauce — from a food truck.

The brewery owners said in a news release Thursday that they plan to offer a beer menu that will be eclectic and frequently changing, with 12 or more beers that will include IPAs, sours, Belgian and British style ales, German lagers and wheat beers, barrel-aged specialties and new creations.
Side by Each will also operate as a café, serving coffee and espresso drinks, supplied by Portland’s Coffee By Design.
“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?” said Low in the news release. “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.”
The brewers will also offer a community supported brewing program, similar to community supported agriculture farm shares. Customers will pay up front in the winter for a year’s supply of beer and get a discount and other perks.
Low said the program will help the brewery with cash flow in the slower season.
“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,” he said.
Side By Each is offering membership in a “founders community” for the program.
“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 community supported brewing shares, plus some fun opportunities like naming pieces of equipment,” he said. “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.”
He said some other breweries around the country have similar programs. “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 community supported brewing program isn’t solely financial, Johannes said. “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.
Johannes and Low said they are committed to offering something new to the community
“Working closely with the community is our No. 1 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.”
The brewery’s website, has more information.

Both said they are grateful for the support of Baxter Brewing Co., their former employer, which expanded and opened a taproom in the Bates Mill, 35 Canal St., Lewiston, earlier this year.
“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.”
The owners, doing business as SXE LLC, leased 10,480 square feet of industrial space at the address in March from Maine Commercial Properties LLC in a transaction brokered by Tim Millett, of CBRE | The Boulos Co.
They hope to be open around the end of the year.