Drink This Now: Four Seam by Idle Hands Craft Ales
As ingenuity continues to permeate craft beer, many brewers have started rotating beer series to keep up with the new hop varietals and possibilities out there. Beers in this vein are often crammed under a single moniker (think Night Shift’s Morph), but frequently swap out ingredients to showcase new recipes.
While many of these alternating outlets are solely creative, Idle Hands Craft Ales wanted to start one with a purpose. So, last July, the predominantly European-inspired brewery launched a rotating series with one goal in mind: to determine a flagship IPA.
That beer, called Four Seam, is now ready for the masses. It will be available in the Malden taproom on Thursday, February 2, for full pours and crowler fills—just in time for the chaos of Super Bowl Sunday and Extreme Beer Fest.
Owner Chris Tkach and brewer Brett Bauer have been crafting this New England-style IPA since Idle Hands moved to Malden last year. The two used the Change Up series as an incubator to play around with different malt bills, hops, and ingredient combinations before settling on a final recipe. For example, Change Up #2 focused on nailing down the murky, hazy nature New England IPAs are known for, whereas the batch after that played around with Citra-heavy hop flavors. Four Seam pulls from all five of the brewery’s Change Up beers to create a tropical, citrusy IPA.
“[This beer] signifies that we’re here to play in the world of IPAs, even though it may not be our main focus,” Tkach says. “But when we do put our best foot forward, we’re going to create as good of a beer as we possibly can. Four Seam is definitely a culmination of that.”
The IPA takes its name from the fastball pitch in baseball. The brewery has embraced the baseball theme before, if the Two Seam session IPA, the 34 porter, and Change Up series were any indicator. Idle Hands also plans to launch an imperial version of Four Seam in the coming weeks, appropriately named Six Seam (they’re aware that’s not an actual pitch).
To develop Six Seam, among other future beers, the brewery plans to continue the Change Up series indefinitely. But rather than keep it going as a beer incubator, Tkach and crew want to transition the series into more of a creative outlet. In that vein, the next Change Up will be a bright and clear West Coast-style IPA.
Now that Idle Hands is settled into its new space, the team is looking ahead to a busy year. They’re in the midst of expanding a mixed fermentation program, Friends of Funky Town, with a few releases this year, including a harvest grisette called Child of the Sun. In time, Idle Hands hopes to develop these beers even further with various oak and spirit casks.
“We’re finally starting to feel like we’ve hit our stride,” Tkach says. “We brought in all new equipment when we opened this place up, so there’s definitely a learning curve when you do that. Now, we’re starting to pump out some really great beers.”
Tkach also plans to can his core lineup, which includes Four Seam, but he hasn’t decided whether he’ll recruit a company like Iron Heart or purchase an in-house canning line. He says there’s also a possibility of setting up an outdoor patio later in the year. No matter what neck of the woods you’re from, make sure Malden is on your radar as a beer destination as these additions unfold.
Idle Hands Craft Ales, 89 Commercial St., Malden, 617-819-4353, idlehandscraftales.com.