Night Shift taps into an unlikely location
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Michael Oxton, the cofounder of Night Shift Brewing, has problems other craft beer makers dream of: a waiting list of retailers eager to buy his products and lines of customers jostling to get inside his Everett brewery.
Founded in 2012, Night Shift is a relatively recent entry in the crowded Massachusetts craft beer market. Nonetheless, the company today is one of the state's fastest-growing breweries, well known around Boston for its eclectic barrel-aged beers and inviting taproom.
After brewing 700 barrels of beer in 2013, Night Shift is on pace to produce 10,000 this year, and plans to double its output to 20,000 barrels in 2017.
Local restaurants and package stores are buying up the beer as fast as Oxton and his crew can make it.
On Friday evening, Night Shift opened the doors of its new "Annex," an event space that can also accommodate overflow from its popular taproom. The roughly $500,000 expansion will help the brewery cope with thirsty crowds while bringing in additional revenue from weddings and corporate bashes.
Night Shift is hardly the only up-and-coming craft brewery in Massachusetts to open an on-site tasting room or taproom.
With competition increasing all the time, breweries say such spaces are a welcome second source of income. And they double as effective marketing tools — why be just a beer brand when you could be a destination, too?
"Taprooms are hugely profitable, but more importantly, they're the number-one brand connection you can have with your customers," Oxton said. "Everything from how our bartenders talk to how we clean the place tells them a lot about us. People leave here ready to share our story."
Night Shift's new space is sprinkled with quirky accents, such as a table made from an old bowling alley lane, but the overall look is a somewhat muted modern-industrial style.
"It should never feel precious," Oxton explained. "We want people to always know they're in a brewery in an industrial section of Everett."
Night Shift didn't originally expect events and on-site beer sales to be a significant part of its business, but this year so far they represent about half of the company's revenue.
"When we started out, we thought, 'who's going to come to this disgusting little warehouse in Everett?' " Oxton recalled. "Two years later we were seeking a building with 3,000 square feet of taproom space because there was nowhere to put all the people."