Night Shift grand opening, March 14 at Lovejoy Wharf in Boston. From left, Owners Mike O’Mara, Rob Burns, and Michael Oxton with Michelle Sullivan of Sullivan Marketing & Communications.
By Dan Kochakian
Downtown Boston saw a nice surge of fine beer venues this past summer and autumn. Trillium’s Beer Garden on the Rose Kennedy Greenway was a big hit as were Castle Island’s in Charlestown and Night Shift’s on the Esplanade along the Charles River. Diagonally across the bridge from Castle Island is Night Shift’s new brewery/restaurant at Lovejoy Wharf, a few minutes’ walk to TD Garden. The grand opening was March 20 which showcased the new 10-bbl system with brewer Anna Jobe at the helm experimenting with innovative small-batch beers for this location. Anna is formulating such beers as an IPA with Norwegian yeast, a barleywine and a rye porter. An 88-seat patio overlooking the harbor will be open soon. This is an exciting new venue for beer fans, but be forewarned: plan early during Celtics and Bruins games!
Also at this location is Night Shift Roasting, a new coffee venture using specialty beans.
Castle Island’s latest venture is with West Cork Distillers of Ireland who supplied 12 Bourbon Cask whiskey barrels in which CI aged its Greetings From Skibb Export Stout, at 8.4% loaded with charred oak, vanilla and dark fruit flavors as a result of resting for six months. The barrels were then returned to Ireland for West Cork’s project involving a new stout-soaked whiskey.
An offshoot of Sam Adams is Marathon Brewing Co. whose debut beer is 26.2 Brew, a golden hazy 4% ale with sea salt and coriander. Previously brewed by Sam Adams and only available in the Boston area, 26.2 was reformulated with the input from triathlete Shelley Smith and fellow marathoners. Now available nationally, with only 120 calories and 9g of carbs, this is a thirst-quenching beer for when you finish your run from Hopkinton to Copley Square, a mere 26.2 miles.
Medford Brewing, which has been contract brewing and whose beers are in over 150 locations, is seeking investors to build its own brewery in Medford. Partners Nick Bolitho and Max Heinegg plan to open the new facility by this December. MBC brews and IPA, Pale Ale, Golden Ale and Double IPA and with assistance now from Atlantic Distributing, these beers will be found all over New England. Good luck, guys!
Lamplighter Brewing in Cambridge has 12 new beers debuting through April 6. Among them are Bunnies, Rabbit Rabbit, Yaks on The Phone, Birds Of A Feather and Cloud City, all New England IPAs. Others include Giants Under The Sun (Helles Lager), Bourbon Wolves (Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter), Stupid Seagulls (Dry-Hopped Pale Lager) and party Animal (Sour IPA). Collaborations have involved Borg Brugghús (Iceland), Collective Arts Brewing (Ontario), Twin Sails Brewing (British Columbia) and Merit Brewing (Ontario). The women of Lamplighter brewed a special beer in support of the Pink Boots Society. Frida is a barrel-aged stout with cocoa nibs, vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, aged for three months in bourbon and vanilla extract barrels. Its debut is April 4 at the brewery.
The Ipswich Ale Brewery’s Half Marathon will be held April 27, starting and ending at beautiful Crane Beach. Register at IAB’s website. After the run, enjoy beer, pizza and other refreshments while listening to DJ Michael Bernier spin the platters.
Attention, hopheads!! If you haven’t visited Channel Marker Brewing in Beverly, get there ASAP. Just recently opened in January, CMB had five drafts on during a recent visit, four of them IPAs: Whitecap Oat Cream IPA with Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe at 6.6% being the ‘lightest.’ Others included Beacon of Light (Honey Oat Cream IPA at 7.5%), Flagship (NE IPA at 7.6%) and Meridian (big NE double IPA at 8.5%). Rounding off the foursome was The Commodore, a chocolate peanut butter porter at 6.5%.
In late March, Kretchman’s Craft Bar & Beer Garden in Webster will release Irish Red and Big Red; the latter is a cinnamon ale. Jack’s Abby in Framingham has released its flavorful line-up of Barrel-Aged Framinghammers. All aged in bourbon barrels, brewery-only releases include Gingerbread, Cocoa-Nut, Peanut Butter Cup, Vanilla and everyone’s favorite, PB&J. Available in stores are S’mores, Super Mole, Coffee and regular Framinghammer bottles. Although Jack’s Abby is known for its outstanding lagers, big hop beers sneak in as well. The latest is Mosaic Single Dry-Hopped Excess IPL at 7.2%/80-IBU!
On a very sad note, we extend our sympathy to the family and friends of Herb Lindtveit, one of Jack’s Abby’s ace brewers. Herb passed away in late February and the brewery is holding a sale of a special limited edition beer called In Herb We Trust. Order your beer through the JA website for pick-up at Springdale Brewery on April 14.
Aeronaut Brewing in Somerville has Fresh Robot Crush lager cans on April 11. Check out Sap On Tap on April 14. Brunch will start at 11am and features local maple syrup with waffles and a special maple ale release.
Eva Pratt at Drop-In Brewery in Middlebury has reported that limited release cans of seasonal beers have been going well. Two lagers, Czech Your Ego Pils and Oh, Vienna! are on the shelves now. Hazard, a Belgian Tripel (8%, sweet and boozy with a dry finish) follows in April. Dude, Are You OK? Is Drop-In’s big double IPA at 8% with copious amounts of hops that finishes with well-balanced maltiness.
Scott Salmonsen, the brewer who is humbly turning water into beer at Saint J Brewery in St. Johnsbury, connected with Josh Smith of Kickback Brewery to produce Taco Lager, a 5.2% Dortmunder boiled with lime zest and finished with fresh limes, pineapples and jalapenos. It’s on at the brewery, and Trail Break in White River Junction has made Taco Lager its house beer; it’s a perfect pairing with nachos. Kickback brews simple but distinctive beers, including Brown Ale, Chocolate Coffee Stout, and Red Raspberry Pilsner. April 15 is the debut of Josh’s Irish Red Ale.
Hermit Thrush Brewery in Brattleboro has brewed Supah Phunk #9 nine times in recent months. This popular 5.9% golden sour/saison is aged for 12 months in red and white wine barrels. As part of the Party Jam Series, PJ Blueberry and PJ Mango are tasting room-only beers. The 7.5% slight sour Rye Barrel Rye is as its name suggests: aged in local maple rye whiskey barrels. Vermont Sour Brown is a 5.8% Old Bruin Flemish style beer aged in red wine barrels with local wild-harvested yeast.
While Backacre Brewing in Weston only brews one beer (Golden Sour) with two releases a year, it’s always a spectacular specialty. Crisp and effervescent, this is a very refreshing beer with a hint of tartness that is worth your search in southern VT. The latest is a November release at 7%.
The interest in New England IPAs has not dissipated, and Smuttynose of Hampton jumps into the market with Lady Stardust, a 6.9%/40-IBU version with pineapple and mango with a subtle bitterness through its haze. Also out is the new Cherry Sour, a 5.2% Berliner Weisse with cherry and citrus notes.
In your world travels, if you happen to be in Belize, check out the new Hobbs Brewery in Placencia. Owner Ash Fischbein, who opened the original Hobbs Brewery in West Ossipee off Rte. 16 in the Granite State, saw the paucity of breweries and set up in the small village and has started with two inaugural beers: Wildcat IPA, a 6% IPA (named for the largest jaguar preserve), and Hummingbird Belizean Golden ale (light and crisp at 4.7%). Brewing operations in Belize will be handled by Anthony Swanick who learned his craft in New Hampshire.