Food & dining

BOTTLES

Night Shift releasing Nite Lite, taking on the Buds and Millers of the world

Night Shift

The six-year-old brewery known for dank IPAs and bracing sours is releasing 12-packs of Nite Lite, a low-alcohol brew the company is hoping steals shelf space from the Budweisers and Millers of the world.

“Our team just wanted something nice and simple and easy-drinking,” says Night Shift cofounder Rob Burns. “We thought it could be kind of fun to see if we could brew a better version of Bud Light.”

After debuting small batches of Nite Lite each of the last two years, the company is betting more consumers will want crush-able craft and is hoping to sell 4,000 barrels of the lager in 2018. It’s the largest debut run for a single beer in Night Shift’s history.

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There are several qualities drinkers consistently look for in their light lagers: crisp, clean taste, mild sweetness, and a lack of overt bitterness. To achieve that end the big brewers use relatively few hops (as compared to say a standard pale ale), and they lighten things up with corn, an ingredient craft brewers have long used as a punch line.

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Night Shift built Nite Lite similarly, adding real corn (as opposed to corn syrup or rice syrup) and brewing with a touch of Saaz hops, the classic bittering agent in a Czech pilsner. As opposed to the macros, the malt-to-corn ratio is higher in Night Shift’s beer, which is unpasteurized and checks in at 4.3 percent ABV and 120 calories.

“It certainly tastes better than a Bud Light,” says Burns.

A big draw with light lagers is price: you can buy a 30-pack of cans of many of the big brands for a little more than $20. Night Shift can’t offer that, but it’s pricing its 12-packs of Nite Lite around $15, close to what you might pay for something like Michelob Ultra. A 4-pack of Nite Lite will sell for 6 or 7 bucks, compared to the brewery’s standard price of $14 for 4-packs of IPAs or stouts.

Night Shift isn’t the first craft brewery to make a product aimed at the macro drinker. Michigan’s Short’s Brewing makes Local’s Light. Salem’s Notch Brewing brews The Mule, a 4.2 percent ABV corn lager. But it’s notable Night Shift is targeting the big guys — and the shelf space and tap handles that go along with them — specifically. Current sales data in Massachusetts lists 100 percent of the light lager market as belonging to macrobreweries.

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“We’re gonna have fun gunning for their tap handles instead of our craft beer brethren,” says Burns. “ If we can get even one percent of the Mass. lite beer segment, that would be a win for us.”

Expect to see Nite Lite in Massachusetts, New York, and Maine starting in April.

Gary Dzen can be reached at gary.dzen@globe.com.