Thank the Beer Gods for people like Chris and Grace Tkach, the husband and wife team behind Idle Hands Craft Ales, a Belgian-inspired brewery and the latest homebrewery turned nanobrewery to pop up in Boston.
“In the Boston area, you see places like The Publick House and Lord Hobo that are really into sourcing Belgian style beers, but all of those beers are either from Belgium or from the West Coast. So why not source them locally?” says Chris of the decision to brew Belgian.
Chris, the brewer, started making beer after his uncle gave him a homebrew kit for Christmas when he was 21. He homebrewed for over 15 years, earning prizes in homebrewing competitions and becoming a certified beer judge.
And at the center of he and his wife’s love story is, of course, Belgian beer.
“Let’s just say I decided to stick around for a few more beers,” Chris replies.
They married in 2009 and started thinking about opening a brewpub or an inn-brewery combo. Then on a ski trip they stopped at the Maine Beer Company, a nano-brewery in Portland. One of the co-owners, David Kleban, showed them around and explained that he still had his full-time job and that the brewery was doing well enough that the operation paid for itself.
Cue light bulb.
“I think that sort of set it all off,” says Chris. “Just the fact that, well, once you scale everything down that we had been talking about, we can enter this market on a very limited budget and still not lose our shirt in the process.”
Because nanobrewery-sized equipment is hard to come by, the Everett-based operation had to rely on some MacGuyver-like resourcefulness.
The barrels, which he bought on eBay, once held industrial rubbing alcohol. The walk-in cooler, which houses the fermentation and cold rooms, is an old Dunkin Donuts refrigerator that they found on Craigslist. He also designed the malt mill and the whirlpool and even fit a barrel aging room and a tasting area in the 1250-square-foot space.
“It’s just a bigger kitchen, that’s all,” says Chris.
Now all they need is for the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission to issue their license and they can start brewing and bottling.
First off the line will be the flagship beer, Pandora. It’s a Belgian Pale Ale, fermented with the house yeast and brewed with American style hops. Chris calls it his crossover beer for beer geeks who drink American hoppy beers and want to get into Belgian styles. Then there’s Brevity, a classic Belgian Wit, slightly tart with hints of citrus and coriander. Both will be sold in 750mL Belgian style bottles and on draft.
Idle Hands is one of a handful of nanobreweries emerging in Boston—Night Shift Brewing is even moving into the space next door to Idle Hands—and every time one opens, our local beer list lengthens and the Boston brewery scene strengthens.
So if idle hands are the devil’s playground, then here’s hoping that they continue to work their sinful magic.
IDLE HANDS CRAFT ALES
3 CHARLTON ST. UNIT 4