I try not to spend too much time in partially abandoned warehouse complexes. That's not a smear on them; it's just one of those places I tend to avoid. I had to make an exception this past weekend, though, because that's where Night Shift's brewery and tasting room happens to be.
The location certainly lends a bit of excitement to the visit, no denying that. Is the brewery open? Does some unknown terror reside in this pile? We have no way of knowing.
If Dexter Morgan had been operating out of Boston, there's about a 50% chance he would have killed someone in this building at some point. Note the friendly yellow signs pointing you to the bathrooms. For unknown reasons, someone has written "Obama" in one of the urinals (not pictured).
Luckily, once you reach Night Shift's front door, the atmosphere lightens. The bar is right at the front door, so it doesn't take long to obtain a drink.
It's not a huge establishment, which means that you can see pretty much the whole brewery from the tasting "room" (more of an open space with tables than a defined room, really). Face one way and you're looking at a rack of barrel-aging beers; turn around, and you'll see brewery employees at work scrubbing a tank for a fresh batch. No need for a tour when you can sip a beer and watch the brewing happen around you.
They also have a rather extensive bottle collection in the back. We had a good time looking for our favorites and discussing the relative merits of various bottle labels. Night Shift has a strong one (second from left, bottom row): straightforward design, the right amount of text, and a clear logo that's easily identified from afar.
All in all, a nice space to try a few beers. And wow, do they have some beers. Most of us opened with a Seaglass, a session ale. I'm not always a fan of grains of paradise, but I thought they added a pleasantly mild citrusy effect here. Apparently, it's also brewed with Himalayan pink salt and Hawaiian lava salts (!), although I didn't notice much of an effect -- maybe just a bit of brine in the finish.
Next up for me was the Art #14, a sour wheat with pluots. This was interesting, but I found it to be too light -- it was flavorful, but so much so that it didn't really taste like beer at all, more like a Sprite with extra complexity. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy it, but I would have liked a little more heft to balance out the sour and fruity flavors.
They also had a beer with habaneros called Viva Habanera, which I tried third. I didn't especially want to (spicy beers = not really my thing), but: I felt like avoiding it was a cop-out, and we were drinking four ounce tasters. I can do four ounces, right?
It actually was quite good, but the spice sneaks up on you -- I barely noticed it at first, but it proceeded to burn all the way down. As one of my compatriots noted, "it really comes in the back of your throat." Factually accurate, though I'd have put it differently. The last ounce of this was a struggle -- I had to psych myself up, stare the beer down, and make a very odd face afterwards.
After this, I went with a Chinooknation, a double IPA with 100% Chinook hops. It's not a hop varietal that I generally target, but after trying this, I think maybe it should be. I was of the belief that Chinook was primarily a bittering hop, but when used as a late/dry-hop addition, it adds a rich, earthy quality to the beer. You wouldn't mistake this beer for a West Coast style IPA, but it's a strong offering nonetheless. If I understand correctly, this is part of a series of single-hop double IPAs -- I was disappointed that I didn't have a chance to try the Citra edition.
The last beer I sampled was the Art #15. This provided a good contrast to the #14 I'd tried earlier -- it's a heavier citrusy saison aged in Chardonnay barrels. It's almost a beer version of white sangria, very winey and citrusy, but with a little more backbone. I really enjoyed this one, although it's not a beer I'd have an easy time making it through a growler of. Quite tasty, though, and a good sample to finish on.
If you have the chance to make it out to Night Shift, I'd recommend it -- even the beers that I didn't love were unique, which is always a draw for me. Do be careful on the approach. Maybe bring a GPS. Or at least a flare gun.
You can find Alex on Twitter @AlexanderFossi.
Photos courtesy of Simon Vickery and Kayla Hoskinson.