While media outlets across Mass are just breaking the story—that nanobrewery Night Shift Brewing’s officially opening this week—Honest Pint’s been following them since last January, when their landlord was concerned that their apartment smelled like a brewery and the buckets piled everywhere as they experimented with homebrews until 2 a.m.
Michael Oxton and Mike O’Mara, two-thirds of Boston’s new nanobrewery, Night Shift Brewing, are standing in their brewery in Everett—located in a World War II parts manufacturer turned industrial complex—pointing out the walls they built.
“This wall wasn’t here, this wall wasn’t here,” Oxton says motioning to either side of him.
“Not even this wall was here,” O’Mara adds, pointing behind him.
When they first got the space, (conveniently situated next to fellow nanobrewery, Idle Hands Craft Ales) it was littered with piles of junk—old popcorn machines and wheelbarrows.
“All the rejects from yard sales in one place, where our brewery now stands,” says Oxton.
Now it’s a fully functioning three and a half-barrel brewery, with a fermentation room, a walk-in cooler, lofted office space and a tasting area.
In this space, Night Shift brewers—Oxton, O’Mara and Rob Burns—are brewing some funky, creative and downright weird beers for the Boston market.
But let’s back up a little. When we first broke the story of Night Shift last January, they were fanatical homebrewers, brewing and bottling beers until 2 a.m. (thus, “night shift”) in their Ball Square apartment. Their serial homebrew habits raised the eyebrows of their landlord, Oxton says.
“She had some concerns about how many buckets of beer there were all over the place, and how much we used the gas [for the boil]. It always smelled like a brewery.”
Running through Night Shift’s foundation is the DIY spirit infused in every dedicated homebrewer: “Why make what you can already buy?”
“Our third beer ever was a Barleywine. The first beer was a smoked one.”
“Within 10 beers we were already putting in weird stuff. It was about innovating as much as we could and making styles that didn’t exist.”
That included experiments like Strawberry Kiwi Hefeweizen, Cherry Porter, an IPA with jasmine and rosehips and Sweet Potato Ale. In total, Oxton estimates they made 80 different very specific recipes—brewing one to three times a week over the course of five years.
Expect no less from their commercial offerings. There’s the Trifecta, a Belgian-style Pale Ale fermented with three different Trappist yeasts—one spicy, one earthy and one fruity and Bea Tea, a half-wheat/half-Pilsner with orange blossom honey and green tea leaves, from Somerville’s MEM Tea. Finding the right ratio of the honey—a finicky and expensive ingredient—took three to four years of experimenting, says Oxton.
The third is Taza Stout, a drinkable, light-bodied Stout brewed with chicory roots and ginger, fermented with Belgian yeast, with the addition of Taza Chocolate organic roasted cacao nibs after fermentation.
Oxton doesn’t reveal the details about the final two releases—a Dubbel and a sour—but promises they will be equally funky. Night Shift will be bottled-focus, packaging the beer in 750-ml cork-and-caged styles bottles, but will also be available on draft at select bars.
Both Oxton and O’Mara were able to quit their day job and work full-time at the brewery (Rob still works day shift as a computer software engineer downtown). But that doesn’t mean they’re not brewing nightshift still—their first three and a half barrel brew sessions ended at well past 4 a.m.
“This isn’t just a full-time job. It’s an all-the-time job.”
Join the Night Shift brewers and try their three beers on draft on Wednesday, March 7 in the Crimson Lounge downstairs of Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square. Swing by after 9 p.m.!
NIGHT SHIFT BREWING
3 CHARLTON ST.