Night Shift Brewing, a three-year-old Everett brewery specializing in barrel-aged sour beers and other brews with unorthodox ingredients, is expanding into a new space.
Night Shift has begun brewing at its new facility at 87 Santilli Highway in Everett, across the street from the Teddie Peanut Butter plant. The move was necessary to increase production and to provide more space for visitors of the company’s taproom, according to cofounder Michael Oxton. Oxton and fellow founders Mike O’Mara and Rob Burns will use 14,000 square feet of work space to increase output from 700 barrels last year to 2,000 to 3,000 in 2014. Night Shift’s former taproom space was 90 square feet; the new space, designed by Jamaica Plain’s Helios Design Group, is 2,500 square feet.
“We’d seen a lot of interest and a lot of customers come through our taproom, and we’d just run out of space really quickly,” said Oxton. “We didn’t necessarily see it happening this soon.”
During a visit earlier this week, Oxton showed off the new space, which formerly housed the Seacrest Foods company. Workers scrambled to move tools and brewing equipment from the loading dock over to the new production floor. New stainless-steel fermenters gleamed in the late-afternoon sun in the center of the room.
Night Shift has five full-time and six part-time employees in addition to the three founders. Oxton recently hired bartenders who will pour samples and pints from 24 taps. The brewery will host tours but is also a spot where patrons can pick up a growler to take home or linger over a glass of Somer Weisse, Bee Tea, or Viva Habanera.
Off to one side of the warehouse, beers sit in dozens of barrels, aging with wild yeast, fruit, and controlled bacterial spoilers. Night Shift is known for these barrel-aged brews, many of which are sour and labor-intensive. Oxton tells a story about Art 21 Farmhouse Bramble, a dark saison fermented in barrels for two months.
“We thought it tasted delicious and it was good to go,” he said. “We could have released it if we wanted to. However, it was missing some extra layer of complexity.”
The brewers talked it over and decided to add blackberries to the barrel. Blackberries are expensive; getting them into a barrel — and later cleaning them out — is a pain. But Oxton is happy with the final product, a slightly tart, oaky, peppery brew with a touch of funk.
“We can put this good beer on the market or go with a great beer,” says Oxton. “There were so many extra steps to make the beer that much better.”
Not every beer Night Shift makes is a hit, but having the capacity to brew more opens up room for experimentation, Oxton says. Viva Habanera, a rye ale brewed with agave nectar and aged on habanero peppers, is unlikely to be like any other beer most people have tried. It has become one of Night Shift’s mainstays.
“When people don’t know our stuff and try it they usually have a positive reaction,” says Oxton. “It’s often very surprising but it’s also very memorable for them.”
The new taproom will tentatively open on Friday, May 16. More details can be found at www.nightshiftbrewing.com.
HopChef is back
HopChef, a competition pitting Boston chefs against one another to cook beer-inspired dishes, is coming back to the South End on May 21. Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, N.Y., is putting on the event for the third straight year, with chefs from Teatro, New World Tavern, Coda Bar & Kitchen, Cure, Foundry on Elm, and Franklin Cafe creating dishes to pair with Ommegang’s Belgian brews.
“We looked around the landscape and saw a lot of chefs being progressive in their attitudes with beer,” said Ommegang’s director of marketing, Bill Wetmore. “And other places, you go into a nice restaurant and see very pedestrian beer lineups. It didn’t reflect the kind of food they were presenting, and we saw an opportunity to reach chefs and bring them more experience as it related to flavor diversity in beer.”
Attendees of the Cyclorama event will get to sample the chef’s dishes, getting food and beer pairing explanations. Tickets are on sale for $65 at http://hopchef2014.ticketleap.com/Boston.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.