Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My New Favorite Beer: Night Shift Harborside

If you live in Massachusetts and love beer, then you've likely heard of Night Shift Brewing, a craft brewery located in Everett. Even though their beer generally isn't sold outside of Massachusetts, numerous beer lovers from other states are also aware of and enjoy their beer. At the Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet in Melrose, where I work part-time, I see the popularity of Night Shift beer as it doesn't stay long on the shelf.

Though I'm not really a beer lover, I took the opportunity last week to attend, as a media guest, a tour and tasting at the brewery. I wasn't hopeful that I'd find a beer I enjoyed, but I was willing to check it out anyway and see what I might find. To my pleasant surprise, I found two beers that I actually liked, one which impressed me so much that I bought a couple bottles to take home.

The origins of Night Shift Brewing extend back to 2007, when three friends, Michael Oxton, Michael O'Mara, and Rob Burns, engaged in home brewing in a kitchen in Somerville. Their passion for home brewing grew, and they referred to themselves as "Night Shift" as that is when they did most of their brewing as they all worked day jobs. Eventually, in 2011, they started construction of  their first commercial brewery on Charlton Street in Everett and it opened in March 2012. They quickly outgrew this spot and in May 2014, they opened a new brewery on Santilli Highway in Everett. Current plans include the production of 10,000 barrels of beer this year.

The new brewery space includes a 2500 sq. ft. Taproom, which originally was somewhat of an after thought, as the founders didn't expect it to be as popular as it has become. You can order any of their beers, in a variety of sized-glasses, many on draft. You can also order a sampler so you can try multiple beers. They sell a little bit of food as well. Currently, they sell about 50% of their production in their taproom, showing its importance and popularity. In addition, most of the rest of their production is sold within 25 miles of the brewery.

It also helps that the brewery hosts a number of different activities during the week to draw in more customers. They also have a patio area where you can sit and drink this summer. It's a commercial area of Everett so the view isn't anything special, but you are there for the beer, not the view.

Night Shift seems to experiment often, trying to create a wide variety of different beers, including the use of a myriad of barrel types, mostly used, for aging. There are seasonal beers as well as beers that are available year round.

My primary reason for disliking most beer is their bitterness due to the hops. I have a sensitivity to certain types of bitterness and hoppy beers are a major turn-off to me. However, I am aware that there are some types of beer where the hop influence is minimal, such as the Gose style.

Gose (pronounced like "Gozer" the evil, god-like entity from the original Ghostbusters movie) is a style of beer that extends back at least to the 16th century, though some claim its lineage is even older, where it is invented in the German city of Goslar, from which it acquired its name. Over time, the style became extremely popular in the city of Leipzig, leading to the construction of over 80 Gosenschänken, Gose taverns. The style died off after World War II but has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, including the production of numerous Gose beers in the U.S.

Usually, Gose is a top-fermented sour beer, brewed from at least 50% malted wheat, with the addition of some coriander, and usually has only a 4%-5% ABV. They generally do not have a prominent hops flavor and taste sour because of their inoculation with lactic acid after the boil. Gose commonly has a tart lemony taste with an herbal element and briny aspect. The briny aspect sometimes comes from the addition of salted water. Within the U.S., breweries across the country have been creating their own Gose-style beers, putting their own spin on it, including some which are hoppy or flavored with other substances.

The Night Shift Harborside ($12/750ml) is a Gose-style ale that was brewed with coriander and Island Creek Oysters. Beer brewed with oysters? Yes, and they are not the only brewery which has done so. The Harbourside is a traditional Gose in many ways, being a top-fermented wheat beer and a 3.6% ABV. However, instead of adding sea salt or salted water, they produced the batch with the addition of about 350 live oysters to the wort a few minutes before the end of the boil. I found this beer to be crisp and refreshing with a bright lemon taste, mild coriander spice, and a strong briny element which I very much enjoyed. It made for an excellent summer drink, sour and salty, and lacked the bitterness I find in many there beers. And with its low alcohol, you could drink plenty of this on a nice summer afternoon. I think this beer would pair well with seafood dishes too!

It certainly qualifies as the best beer I've had this year and sets a high bar for any other beers I sample the rest of this year. Even if you think you don't like beer, you should taste the Harborside as it may change your mind.

I also enjoyed the Timbo Slice, a barrel-aged sour golden ale with tangerines and apricots. It had bright fruit flavors, including stone fruit and tropical fruit, with a mild earthy aspect. This is a beer with a bit more substance to it, and just wasn't as summery as the Harborside, though I would enjoy the Timbo Slice in the fall and winter, maybe paired with a beef dish.

1 comment:

Mariz Denver said...

Great beers and $8 for a flight - excellent combo package.
The bartender could be a little more talkative or ask how do you like the beers, but that didn't happen. Oh well, great beers and that's why I came here.

Mariz
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