Boston on the Night Shift

Night Shift Brewing

Like many–or most–craft breweries, the founders of Night Shift Brewing moved from home brewing on the night shift to pro brewing on the day shift, but these guys kept that heritage in their name. I’ve been waiting to try their stuff for what seems like a long time, and finally a buddy smuggled some down to me. (Thanks, James!)

Night Shift Whirlpool
Whirlpool American Pale Ale

Looks like pineapple juice, cloudy straw, with a bright white head. I get pineapple on the nose too, but partly because I was thinking of it. The aroma is more like grapefruit with intense citrusy hops. There’s cracker malt underneath, mostly masked by the hops. The flavor is complex, resolving to something simple and crisp. It starts with a citrus juiciness with good malt and peach and a spiciness, along with an herbal note almost like basil. Soon it becomes clean crisp citrus refreshment. That sounds tacky but this is really good! The finish completes a trifecta of citrus across aroma, flavor and finish. 4.5% ABV

Night Shift HarborsideHarborside

“Gose-style ale brewed with Island Creek Oysters and coriander,” this pours cloudy straw with a brief bubbly head. It delivers a strange sour aroma, not strong, a slight salty tang with a note that must be from the oysters. Sour on the palate–it’s a gose all right–salty, tangy, not overwhelming . . . in balance, even. If I didn’t know I would never suspect there were oysters. I was skeptical but this is pretty good! The finish is quiet, citrusy tart with a lingering hint of salt, especially at the very end. As it warms there’s even a tiny salty candy bar hint. 4.2% ABV Aside: some oyster beers do more to emphasize the hazard to those allergic to shellfish, though this label clearly states the presence of the oysters. At minimum it gives fair warning to vegetarians, unlike Guinness* and some other ales.)

Night Shift AwakeAwake

“Porter aged with Counter Culture Coffee,” deep brown in the glass with a medium chocolate cream head. Coffee definitely leads the nose, but restrained and with chocolate malt notes, quite nice. On the palate it has light effervescence with an iced coffee flavor, and it’s on the light bodied side so it’s equally at home in warm and cold weather. It might win over some who don’t like coffee in their beer as long as they like the typical roastiness of a good porter. 6.6% ABV

Night Shift Viva HabaneraViva Habanera

Here’s the first Night Shift beer that I ever heard about, and one I’ve been eager to try. I was not disappointed! “Rye ale with agave nectar and habanero peppers.” This pours a pretty ruby to brown with a moderate off-tan head. The aroma of peppers arrives from two feet away, but up closer there’s a lot of malt with some sweetness and a citrus note. This is followed by great pepper flavor, juicy and refreshing over layered malt. There’s pepper spiciness and flavor but not heat, though some builds in after multiple sips. The finish shows that heat but shows mostly malt and maybe a hint of hops at the end. 6.7% ABV

It was worth waiting for the Night Shift–I’ve always been a night person–but I hope that someday they will expand distribution to New Jersey or New York (perhaps despite the presence of Yankee fans.)

* [To be fair to Guinness, they have never hidden their use of isenglass as a fining agent, and it is certainly a traditional part of their process. Recently they have announced plans to move toward being vegan-friendly, replacing the use of isenglass with another agent.]

My buddy James provided the beer, but my other Boston beer buddy, Campbell, provided more Night Shift reviews, and added Slumbrew for good measure:

First up was Night Shift, which I sing the praises of frequently. I helped a friend of mine move some stuff so he treated me to a beer or two. First up I had a glass of their Mainer Weisse – a weissbeir made with blueberries and only available during the winter. It’s sweet, it’s sour, it’s delicious, and it’s available in 22oz bottles, one of which I took home. Next up I had their Oldenburg, their oktoberfest beer. It’s strictly okay but has a little bit going on. As my friend Dylan said, “it’s beer” and I’m not inclined to disagree. I took home a 32oz growler of this round of One Hop This Time, Azacca. I just had the whole growler tonight – it’s damn tasty, not too flowery, and not too fruity. I personally like fruity and juicy IPAs a lot, but this was still super enjoyable, and all 32 ounces went down very comfortably. 

Yesterday I hit up Slumbrew, another local Somerville institution. Their brewery has plenty of great food available which Night Shift does not (although Night Shift always has lunch trucks parked outside) but I thought I’d try their beer. The only things I’ve had from them before were their Happy Sol, a refreshing hefeweizen with plenty of citrusy notes and some sweetness to it, and their Flagraiser IPA, a rock solid IPA. I ordered a flight of four beers I hadn’t tried, and had a go at each:
– Slumkin Pumpkin: this is their pumpkin ale, and stands as proof that I really don’t like most pumpkin beers. My Untappd review reads simply “nein danke”
– Float: Their white beer. It’s strictly okay. It mentioned citrusy notes and I didn’t really get them. I like Allagash White more.
– Island Day: A kind of tropical IPA, with notes of pineapple and orange. I didn’t love it, but it was definitely enjoyable.
– Luma Luma: Another IPA, but one I actually really enjoyed. It was really complex and interesting, in addition to being right powerful at 7.something % abv. Definitely my favorite of the bunch,
– Chainsaw Maidens From Hell: I couldn’t NOT have some of this one! My girlfriend ordered this and had some but had me finish it. It’s a red pumpkin ale, and as a result has a pretty distinct flavor that doesn’t taste quite like anything else on the menu. While it wasn’t my favorite, the great name and interesting mix of flavors make this one worth trying.

So all in all, Slumbrew is definitely the second place here, but they still had some stuff worth trying. Night Shift is dependably interesting (even going so far as to have separate T-shirts available for each of their beers!) but it’s good to check out some of the older institutions like Slumbrew to see what they have on offer.

So many thanks to James for the beers, and to Campbell ( for the reviews.

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2 thoughts on “Boston on the Night Shift

  1. James

    Glad you liked the beers! I still have yet to try Harborside, but it looks like I’ll need to get on that.

  2. Finally, some of the money will go toward aesthetic improvements to Night Shift s current taproom, like patio upgrades and new signage.

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