As promised, we are featuring a Massachusetts brewery. This brewery hasn’t been around that long, really only since 2011, but is a truly unique experience. I know the description “unique” can sometimes be attributed to a less liked attribute, but really I feel it is a great description of the craft this brewery provides. They are definitely worth your attention and visit(s). So say hello to Night Shift Brewing!With an eye catching symbol of an Owl with a Hop-shaped body, and a creatively distinct and catchy name, one would hope that their product would also be appealing to the other senses such as taste and aroma. And is it! I encourage you to check their website
for the full detailed history of the brewery, and to get a little background on the brewers themselves.
I haven’t had the chance to make it to the actual brewery [yet], but any one of the brewers: Robert Burns, Michael O’Mara or Michael Oxton would definitely answer any questions you have about the brewery by clicking on the contact portion of their site. I have, however, sampled of few of their brews. I found out about this brewery quite by accident. Oh sweet succulent accident, how I don’t regret you.
My wife and I were spending the weekend in Boston to catch a show, visit the farmers market in Haymarket Square and just see the town. We stayed a little ways outside of Boston in Woburn, and we didn’t bring any wine or beer of our own. We wanted some for the hotel to enjoy together. So after a day of walking around in Boston, we decided to pick up something from a local package store. This turned out to be a chore, but with all the eateries and plaza’s around, we were sure to find one. Finally, when we were about to give up, we found this store pushed way to the back of a plaza, behind a few other businesses called Redstone Liquors. Little did we know this was to be a hidden oasis (Pun intended)!
When we walked in, the wife went to the wine, and I ventured off into the craft beer section, specifically the local MA crafts. Unfortunately, I had a limited cash flow – I have a wife to make happy – so I had to be selective on my choices. As I gazed, examined, studied (drooled) and perused a variety of bottles, I came across a bottle with an owl that looked like a hop. With a visually appealing label, a nifty name and a corked bottle I decided to examine it further. I checked a few of the flavors there, and the two that stood out were Oasis IPA and Viva Habanera. I am a hop head, but I also love spice. So I had to choose. Eventually after much debate, and evil stares form the wife, I went with Oasis IPA.
So when we got back to the hotel, I took out the IPA, popped the cork (almost leaving a hole in the ceiling), and poured the liquid nectar into a glass. Now here’s the moment of truth! Honestly, I didn’t like it. It’s not to say it was bad, I just felt it was unbalanced. Maybe it was the coriander, or I don’t know. But just because a beer isn’t my “cup of tea,” doesn’t mean it’s bad in itself or that someone else won’t enjoy it. It definitely left its mark though, which ignited a curiosity in me which would only be satiated in a pursuit the other styles NSB had to offer.
Next time I was in the area I made it my mission to find more. This time, I checked NSB’s website and found a place that sold their product nearby Natick, MA. The store we found was Nine East Wine Emporium. Now this is a great place with not only a wonderful variety of wine, but great craft beers form local MA brewers. I again sought out NSB beers and found Viva Habanera and Rose. The descriptions this time were the ones that caught my eye.
Rose: Saison brewed with Rosemary, rosehips, and honey. Aged on crushed pink peppercorns.
Viva Habenera: Rye ale brewed with agave nectar and aged on habanero peppers
I’m not one for Saison’s myself, but I figured that sounds like an experience, and a Rye with even more spice added? Sign me up! Rose completely just satisfied me. Habanera was one of the better pepper beers out there, with not too much of a burn. If you would like to see my reviews on these check my Untappd posts, user ID Fosbrew.
I recommend trying NSB out, if for none other than the experience. I love them and will continue to support their adventurous endeavors to prove fine quality craft brews.
Another thing that impresses me about NSB, aside form being local and inventive, is the fact that the brewers are personable and very down to earth. I had the chance to interview Rob Burns in order to dig a little deeper, to see whats really “behind the mash” so to speak. I hope you enjoy this.
What is your philosophy on brewing/beer? Do all three of you have your own, or is it collective?
Rob Burns: Our general philosophy is to brew unique beers that don’t exist in the beer landscape. We attempt to achieve this by using different combinations of ingredients, brewing hybrid styles and using unconventional techniques. There is a huge range of flavor profiles that remain unexplored in beer. Because of that we stay away from brewing boring “regular” beer. We all share the same philosophy. It came from our home brewing days. It never made sense to brew a pale ale when we could go to the store and buy a dozen of them. But we couldn’t go buy one with honey, orange peel, and green tea. Plus we love the creativity and imaginative process involved with coming up with unique recipes.
TBM: Where do you draw your inspiration?
Rob Burns: Inspiration comes from all over. A lot of them are inspired by food and cooking (TBM Note: Their bottles contain food pairings with local cuisine). Whether it be a national food like Thai or a particular food dish we use those to influence our recipe and flavor profiles. Other sources include non-beer beverages like teas, or cocktails, or fruit drinks. All shape our perception of what flavors exist and how we can use them in beer.
TBM: If you had to choose a style of beer what would be your favorite?
Rob Burns: Sour and wild beers are my favorite. Can’t get enough of them. We do a bunch of them at our brewery and usually always have some on tap for people to enjoy! (TBM Note: See note at bottom of Blog for a list of tour dates)
TBM: What do you think makes your brewery unique to New England, let alone MA.?
Rob Burns: I think we are one of the few breweries really trying to push the boundaries of what beer can be. Whether it be our barrel aged beer programs, our sour Berliner Weisse or just our regular wacky beers we are making some one of kind beers. How many breweries do you know that their flagship beer is brewed with habanero peppers?!?
TBM: See what I mean? Unique!
Which one of your beers would you recommend as an introduction to NSB, for someone who has not had the experience?
Rob Burns: That is tough to answer. Our beers are so different and peoples individual taste buds vary so much its hard to pick one. My recommendation would be our sour Berliner Weisse beers. But for someone who doesn’t like sour beer my second choice would be Bee Tea – strong Belgian ale brewed with honey and orange peel and aged on green tea leaves. It’s 8% and oh so flavorful.
TBM: Any beer with a higher ABV, but full of flavor is A.O.K in my book!
For any aspiring brewers, do you have any words of advice?
Rob Burns: If you want to go professional and open your own place; You are in for a long journey! Endless work, sleepless nights, sore muscles, no social life, headaches and the best time of your life! Best advice, is to remember that brewing is a small fraction of what you will do. You will mostly be cleaning, marketing, selling, filling out paperwork and responding to emails. Work hard on your process, nail down cleaning regiments and be able to brew consistently.
TBM: Thanks for your honesty, I hope any reading this who are aspiring brewers, please take Rob’s words to heart. Lastly, Rob, do you have any funny stories to share? Every beer tells a tale.
Rob Burns: There is always something funny happening at our brewery. Our crew is always getting into some sort of mess. Whether it be opening the wrong valve and getting covered in yeast or causing hop volcanoes when dry hopping. Coming to work is always fun and usually results in a funny story.
Well thank you so much Rob for taking the time to respond to those questions. You three truly are an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs, and help give Craft Beer a reason to keep on growing. I hope all who read this will really consider trying Night Shift, as well as other Massachusetts Craft brews.
Again, click on any of the links above for more information on Night Shift Brewing. Their site shows locations on where to purchase their brews, availabilities, hours for visiting and much more.
Please keep watching our posts for more Try MA Beer articles.
– Nick @thebarleymen
I pulled this from their site:
“The Night Shift Taproom is open every weeknight (Mon-Fri) from 3-9pm, and every Saturday from 12-6pm. During open hours, we offer a variety of beers on draft for flights, 4 oz. pours, and 11 oz. pours, as well as guided tours, bottle sales, growler fills, and various types of merchandise. We’re located off Rt. 99 in Everett, close to I-93, Rt. 16, and Rt. 1.” Check out nightshiftbrewing.com.