On March 24, as our collective fears about the COVID-19 pandemic neared crescendo, Night Shift Brewing put out one of its most highly anticipated releases: a full-flavored lager called Nite Heavy.
“It definitely makes it a little weirder,” Night Shift co-founder Michael Oxton told me at the time. “[Night Shift’s] Lovejoy Wharf [tap room] opened a year ago. People seem super thrilled about the beer. But it’s definitely dampening the mood a little bit that we can’t celebrate with people.”
The release of Nite Heavy was big in part because of what came before it. In 2019, Night Shift launched Nite Lite, a craft light lager meant as an alternative to the Bud and Coors Lights of the world. Then came Lime Lite, a light lager with lime. Nite Heavy was meant to cap the group of reasonably priced, locally made alternatives to the big guys.
”We are asking beer drinkers to upgrade their lager,” says Oxton. “We don’t cut corners on processes or ingredients like the big brands, and we don’t add preservatives like most do. “Nite Heavy is our absolute best version of a classic style.”
Stats: Like Budweiser, Nite Heavy is a pale lager, weighing in at 5 percent alcohol by volume. The beer is sold in 4-packs of 16-ounce cans, and in 12-packs of 12-ounce cans. In Massachusetts, you can buy the former for around $8, with the latter selling for around $16.
Pours: Honey gold, with a pillowy-white head.
How it tastes: Oxton says, “It sips smooth and refreshing, with notes of barley malt and honey. For mouthfeel, it’s light-bodied with a crisp carbonation that rolls off the tongue.” I smell cut grass and sandwich bread — none of that 12-grain stuff. The beer tastes sweet but not overly so, and finishes clean. I get a nice creaminess from the head, and a rush of bubbles makes the beer feel airy in my mouth.
Overall: My experience with Nite Heavy has mirrored my moods during the pandemic. When spirits are high, I take my best, skinny pilsner glass down from the cupboard and pour the can in, tiny bubbles surging to the top of the golden cylinder. Other days, when fanciness seems like excess, I’ll crack a can, sit on my front steps, and swig straight from there. This is a good, honest, versatile beer, and one I’ll be buying more of.
Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.