Night Shift: Work the Quirk


Night Shift Brewing shares its name with a 1980s movie starring Henry Winkler, Shelly Long, and a then-unknown Michael Keaton.  Basic premise was morgue employees who did nothing that could be considered remotely normal as they carried out their jobs.  And much like that film, Night Shift is at its best whenever it strays from “normal.”

The Everett, Massachusetts based brewer is key stop on any Boston area brew tour.  Night Shift offers a regular roster of IPAs and pale ales, which are very good, no question.  Not exceptional, but maybe just this side of exceptional.  Perhaps their Santilli IPA is exceptional?  Well, yes it is.  But who cares?  Do we really need to spend a day tasting New England style IPA ad nauseum?

Dig further down the menu, find the quirky stuff that when you first see it, your impulse is NOT to order it.  Sour something or other with zest of tangerine.  Raspberry sour. Habanero flavored hooch.  Gose with some unfamiliar ingredient.

The descriptions are odd, the combinations unsettling.  This is the good stuff.

I’m sure it’s not the case, but you almost get the feeling that Night Shift makes the standard stuff because the market demands it.   When you compare their regular wares to, for example, the recent Raspberry Simple Sour, it pales by comparison.   (pardon the pun, couldn’t help it)   So why bother with the everyday stuff?  Let’s face it, not everybody wants a beer that looks like Pepto Bismol.

One of their regular offerings, the Harborside Gose, is an incredible mix of sour, salt, citrus sweetness that unfortunately makes most very good goses seem dull by comparison.  Put it up against Lost Nation — easily a standard-bearer of the New England gose style — and the Night Shift offering takes the art to a new level.  The quirk in Harborside?  Oysters.  Not quirky? Go ask the local home brew shop for an oyster additive and see what they say.

Down a notch or two from their sours and oddballs are the interesting and definitely worthwhile “One Hop This Time” series.   I say down a notch because the former is like a symphony, while the latter is like a clarinet recital.  Both interesting and enlightening, but the orchestra is always a bigger experience.

Night Shift fans are quick to point out that Santilli and some of the other more straightforward offerings are award winners.  OK, point taken, and it’s worth a sample.  Just keep in mind there’s a lot going on at Night Shift, so when you visit, remember to go further down the menu as you fill out that sampler board.