Brewery Name: Night Shift Brewing
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 87 Santilli Hwy, Everett, MA 02149
Facebook: Night Shift Brewing
Growlers: Very limited, but it seems that they’ve usually got one or two of their taps open to growlers according to the website. The cans were our priority so it’s possible there are more growler options available in person that we just don’t remember seeing.
The Beers: Damn do these guys have a big lineup. As the West Coast’r of the bunch, I knew the least about Night Shift before heading their way and for whatever reason sort of just assumed they canned four or five beers that we were going to pick up at the brewery. Soooo that was wrong on several levels. Not only did we walk out of there with six different four-packs, but there were still enough different brews on tap for us each to get a four-beer tasting AND a full pour of whatever else we thought was interesting. Here’s what we had:
It’s really tough to nail down a favorite from this list. A lot of them came home with us as cans, and my personal favorite of those was the Morph. The Trifecta fits into the category we talk about all the time, "Worth a Shot," where the flavors are so unique and layered that I’d recommend any beer drinker try it regardless of whether you like it or not. I believe we also unanimously thought the OHTT Mosaic was the best pour we had while at the brewery itself and were all big fans of the wine-must-laced saison as well.
Vibe: I was a huge fan of this space. It was a no brainer for me to do the write up for these guys, mainly because I was so impressed by what Night Shift has done with their bar, seating, brewery, and staffing.
The brewery is on a street with mostly corporate/industrial buildings surrounding it, but they managed to maintain some of the warehouse feel for this place in the best sort of ways. Really high ceilings, an unapologetic concrete floor, and long bench style seating to supplement the bar make this feel exactly as a successful craft brewery should in my mind. You can see into the brewery section of the building from the seating area which I’ve always been a fan of as well. I understand they don’t want us fools traipsing around anywhere near the tanks, but it’s great to have a view of the brewery when enjoying their pours. While we all really liked the contemporary set up of Foam Brewing and the amongst-the-tanks feel of Burlington Brewing Company, Night Shift really makes you feel like you're in the know at a rising star of the beer world.
We got to Night Shift around 12:30 in the afternoon on a weekday (don't you judge us!) so it understandably was pretty quiet, but we did see about a dozen different people walking by us with cases of cans as we approached. Once inside, I couldn’t help but picture how great the space would be for events, parties, or whatever else might require a big, chill space.
We got PHENOMENAL service from the two bartenders who were there and they were even kind enough to not make fun of me (too much) for mispronouncing Pfaffenheck into some other unrecognizable word. We asked a whole bunch of questions about the brewery and some of their more unique beers and they were clearly excited to engage with us about new beers, seasonal releases, their personal favorites, etc.
I’m not sure what part of the write up this belongs in, but the artwork that these guys use deserves commending. Not only is it flat out cool looking, but it is unique, eye catching, and consistently spread around the area by local fans. On our walk over to the brewery we noticed several of the stickers as if they were adult breadcrumbs leading us to the treasure. The cans are some of my favorite, and the artwork continues into the brewery above the bar, on the beer listings, and of course on glasses, stickers, and all their other swag.
Shane's Thoughts: I've been trying to find an excuse to get to Night Shift for a long time, and boy did it ever deliver. I'm having a hard time imagining how they could have a better vibe. The open, warehouse-like space really fits them, and on hot days (like the day we visited) the ability to grab a flight and sit outside just can't be beat. It's a little out of the way in Boston, which is kind of nice--you don't have to worry about it getting overrun the way you do at, say, Harpoon. Overall a really great experience, and I look forward to going again.
Dogs: Not sure. I would bet a fair amount of my worth that they’d be fine having dogs in there, at least during the warm months when they can open the bay doors, but there were none there when we visited.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$. The cans that you can buy on retail are not cheap but certainly fair for the quality and complexity their beer has. The brewery itself is again, fairly priced for the quality and ambiance. Most pours are 12-16 oz and come in at $6-8.
Food: Just snacks to keep you going in case you started off with a couple pours of The 87. This seemed like the kind of place that might often partner with food trucks or other vendors like that.
Final Thoughts: I wish this place were near me. I’d very quickly become a regular based on the venue, staff, and beer combination. It’s not the easiest place to get to without assigning yourself a DD for the night, and is definitely underwhelming as you approach. That aside, there is very little to complain about otherwise. I do wonder if it would be a slightly different experience in the cold weather when they can’t have the big garage bay doors open (which we really enjoyed), but even then, the space is so large that I imagine it provides enough of an open feel to make up for it. Top notch beer, great brewery space, excellent service; well done Night Shift!
Brewery Name: Earth Eagle Brewings
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: 165 High Street, Portsmouth, NH. It can be a little hard to find, because it’s hidden behind a series of storefronts, but usually they put a sign out front to direct you.
Facebook: Earth Eagle Brewings
Growlers: Yes, although not every beer is available for growler fills. Special pours and barrel-aged beers are usually restricted.
The Beers: Earth Eagle Brewings specializes in an unusual variety of beer: gruits. For those who don’t know (I had no idea), a gruit is a beer made without hops. I know what you’re thinking: how is that possible? The truth is the hops aren’t really necessary for beer, they’re just a useful flavoring agent and a way to cut the sweetness of the malt. Gruits use a different method to cut that sweetness: herbs and spices. Flavoring agents as varied as yarrow, heather, juniper, and ginger are commonly used, resulting in a wide range of potential flavors. Many gruits fall under the “sour” category, while others can be bitter or spicy.
During our time there, we tried six beers:
Acer-X: Flavored with chickweed, burdock root, wormwood, lemon rind, and (according to the menu) catnip, this sour gruit was our collective favorite. Nice pucker to it with a sweet citrus finish.
SMAPcherry: This dunkelweizen is made with maple sap, cherry, and a touch of smoke. To me, the smoke was a little overpowering, but Pete was a fan. Definitely a beer to check out if you’re a dunkel fan, because it’s a unique take on the style.
Stolen Funk: A Belgian table beer with a little bit of funk to it, this one opened my eyes. I’ve never been a huge fan of Belgians, but I liked this quite a bit. Maybe I’m a bigger fan of Belgian beers WITHOUT hops than with them.
13th B’ak’tun: I’m a huge fan of English strong ales (I grew up drinking Newcastle and it has stuck to my palate like glue ever since). I like that it’s a little strong, clocking in at 7.2%, but we had some disagreement over the flavor. To me, there was an extra hit of alcohol that I wasn’t a fan of, but York enjoyed it quite a bit.
Karma: One of Earth Eagle’s newest beers, Karma rides the New England Juice Train more than any of their others. Karma is basically mango juice. Boozy, delicious mango juice.
William Wallace: Finally we come to William Wallace, a Scottish gruit flavored with juniper berries and heather. This beer had a really nice balance to it, and the juniper shines though. York and I both loved this beer.
Vibe: This is a really cool place. I’m sure it’s a little different during the winter months, but during spring and summer they open up the side of the building and let the fresh air stream in. The interior is very cool, with a couple of booths, tables of various heights, and a rustic-looking bar setup. There isn’t a ton of space, but it works for Earth Eagle. And the ceiling beams are lined with beer cans from breweries throughout the country, which is a touch that I’m always a fan of.
The bartender was extremely knowledgable (I guess you’d have to be, with so many people undoubtedly coming in and asking “so...what’s a gruit?”) and cool to talk to. We went during the mid-afternoon, so there were only a few people there and she was able to take care of us quickly and easily. The vibe of the place really fits the beer style, honestly. Gruits are an older style of beer not commonly seen today, and the brewpub itself has sort of an earthy, old-world feel to it.
I’ve poked my head in once before, at night, when the small space can be a bit of a drawback. I wouldn’t have expected an unusual pub like Earth Eagle to be a hotspot, but I would be wrong. The place can get packed, and if you’re looking for a place where you can sit down and grab a few drinks, you might be hard-pressed to find a seat. That doesn’t change the high quality of the beers though, and there are plenty of times when you can easily pop in for lunch and a beer.
York’s Thoughts: This is where the ‘exceed my expectations’ weekend began. We walked through Shane’s sleepy hometown [Editor’s Note: Sleepy?!] to Earth Eagle and into the small alley door to be met with a great vibe and great beer. Let me be very clear here: the beer is great on any standard, not just for gruits. The Acer-X was one of the most fun beers we had all weekend and during the tasting, I completely forgot about the lack of hops that had me puzzled when we got there. Killer food and great staff made this place even more top-tier.
Dogs: [UPDATED] Kevin informs us in the comments below that Earth Eagle is unable to accommodate dogs due to the fact that it serves food. Says Kevin:
Just an FYI, any establishment serving food cannot allow animals in the establishment, hence the lack of dogs. In Earth Eagle's early days when it was just a tasting room, dogs were allowed before the food was offered. But one of the owners is partners in the homebrew store out front and their dog Oscar is there during the day if you need a dog fix.
Which obviously makes perfect sense. Thanks Kevin, we should have known!
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. We got a nice flight (with generous pours) and a delicious meal for about $20 a head. Especially for Portsmouth, that’s a tough price to beat.
Food: The food. Yes. Let’s talk about the food. In a word, the food was delicious. Earth Eagle has a more interesting menu than I’ve ever seen at a brewpub. Everything from specialty flatbreads to polenta burgers to jambalaya to bacon and dates on sourdough. While we were there, York had a spicy duck pastrami sandwich, while Pete and I each had the “Piglet’s Demise,” which Earth Eagle describes as “pulled pork with chipotle-pineapple BBQ sauce served over sriracha house-made swirled cornbread with house slaw.” If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, I don’t want to know you.
Final Thoughts: I’m always hesitant to give out 10’s, but Earth Eagle Brewings has my infinite respect for doing something completely outside the box. How many people even know what gruits are--let alone brew them? Not only did Earth Eagle introduce me to a new style of beer, they did it in a way that makes me eager to go back for more. Throw in delicious food, a homey vibe, and great staff, and that’s the recipe for a place I want to go again and again.
Brewery Name: Foam Brewers
Type of Brewery: Brewpub (it is new, so this might change)
Location: 112 Lake Street, Burlington, VT (down by the water)
Facebook: Foam Brewers
Growlers: Yes, they were doing a soft opening so only filling half growlers
The Beers: We tried their entire taplist, but really enjoyed their hoppy beers. They were legitimately in the conversation of being as good as any of the beers we had on our trip. Deep City is an awesome full bodied 5% pale ale with huge citrus fruit character. Lupi Fresh was their IPA, big orange notes with some nice bitterness to round out the beer. Built to Spill is a large double IPA with so much creamy citrus and pineapple character that it makes you think you are drinking a glass of juice. The flavors are really explosive while managing to be balanced and drinkable. We cannot wait to see where these brewers go next.
Vibe: This location sums up one of the great reasons why we drink and why some of us cannot seem to settle on one brewery to drink all the time. Even when you think you know everything about beer, something comes along and surprises you. We did a ton of research when we knew we would be going to Burlington, VT because there is so much unique beer to experience. All the iconic beers from Vermont like Heady Topper, Hill Farmstead, and Sip of Sunshine can be found anywhere from a really nice beer bar to an absolute dive bar. These are the beers you will see plastered on all the beer review websites as the ideal beers to try, but no amount of research will prepare you to find a gem location like this. We had hit most of the locations we wanted to go to on our day in Burlington, so, one of us just tapped “brewery” into google and we decided to give this place a shot.
We found out that we visited during their soft opening and the only people working were the brewers. Even while they were slightly understaffed and most likely very busy just to get this place open, they could not have been nicer or more attentive to us. They clearly love what they are doing and all of them left other brewing jobs to do this. When you have that passion and desire in a great place you can see it and taste it in the beer. While there are iconic breweries, they all had to start out like this on some level, and everything we experienced there made us think that this brewery could have amazing success.
Shane's Thoughts: Pete said it best. On a trip where we planned to visit so many iconic, legendary breweries, our spur-of-the-moment visit to Foam Brewing stands out as one of the trip’s absolute highlights. The quality of the beer stacks up against anything else we had on this trip, and I can’t wait to see them gain traction moving forward.
York's Thoughts: This experience was the very essence of "exceeding expectations." We've now found a couple brewery gems by accident, and this one is the best one on that already impressive list. TOP notch beer, an amazing new-age restaurant-brewery setting, and a brewing staff that very obviously has the talent and passion for good beer. Really looking forward to watch these guys get popular and knowing we lucked into the jackpot on this visit!
Dogs: Yes, their outdoor area allows dogs.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$
Food: They offer a wide selection of meats and cheeses to pair with their beer.
Final Thoughts: Check these guys out because they are something special.
Brewery Name: Tree House Brewing Company
Type of Brewery: Production Brewery
Location: 160 East Hill Road, Monson, MA (about 20 minutes off the Mass Pike).
Facebook: Tree House Brewing Co., LLC
Growlers: Most of the time, yes; however, on Wednesdays the brewery only sells cans. You used to be able to purchase quite a few growlers, but, due to Tree House’s popularity, they usually limit you to three growlers per person these days. Also, some beers may only be available in certain quantities (750ml vs 2L growlers).
The Beers: There’s a reason Tree House has the reputation it does: the beers are, universally, fantastic. During my most recent trip, I was able to get both cans and growlers of:
Julius: Tree House’s flagship beer. It’s a New England IPA bursting with citrusy goodness. Julius is one of the best beers I’ve ever had, with beautiful New England haziness, a solid kick of alcohol, and some of the most pure, crisp flavors you’ll ever taste.
Sap: This was my first time having Sap, and it’s an interesting departure from most of their other beers. Brewed with Chinook hops, Sap has more of that piney bitterness than I’m used to from Tree House's IPAs. This isn’t a knock on it--in fact, it’s cool to see that Tree House can do something so different and still knock it out of the park. It’s earthier than Julius, and I like it quite a bit.
Bright: A nice double IPA, this was my first time tasting Bright as well. I gotta say--wow. It’s not as good as Julius in my mind, but it’s damn close. The flavorful bite of citrus on the back end of this one is just perfect. It lives up to its name, too: pour this baby into a glass and it’ll practically glow in the dark. Just a gorgeous pour.
Single Shot: Single shot wasn’t available when I went, but luckily I was able to swap a couple of cans with a friend who had gone the week before (thanks, Jon). Like Sap, Single Shot is a departure from Tree House’s usual fare. Unlike Sap, Single Shot is a milk stout. A lot of breweries known for their IPAs struggle to make the leap into dark beers, but Tree House is not one of those breweries. Single Shot is an excellent addition to the roster.
Vibe: I love Tree House. It’s everything you want in a small-town brewery, and the folks there have figured out a fantastic system. Lines outside the door can often grow into the hundreds, but if you’re just looking to grab some cans and go, you can usually be in and out relatively quickly. Growler fills, on the other hand, can take a while. But the system that Tree House has worked out is about as efficient as it can possibly be, so it’s hard to hold that against them. Sometimes...well, sometimes there are just limits to what you can do!
I’ve also never had a bad experience waiting in line at Tree House. Their regulars are always friendly, and people in line are usually eager to strike up a conversation. The land that Tree House is built on it beautiful, and as you wait you’ll see a field of grass with a nice man-made pond out back. The vibe on the inside is great, although it’s a production brewery, so don’t go looking for a place to sit and hang out. You’ll see bottles from countless other breweries lining the walls, and the rustic vibe of the bar and the building itself make you feel right at home. Like I said, it’s generally pretty easy to get in and out, and Tree House has done an excellent job maximizing their limited space.
Dogs: You bet. I saw some of the most gorgeous dogs I’ve ever seen while standing in line last week.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$ to $$$$. I’ve never gotten in and out of Tree House without spending a solid $80, but once you own a few growlers they’re not that expensive to refill (unfortunately, Massachusetts state law dictates that breweries can only fill their own growlers, so don't show up with growlers from other breweries and expect them to be filled). Cans will run you anywhere from $3.50 to $4.50 or so (depending on what is being canned that week), but there are usually pretty tight limits on how many cans they’ll sell each person, so chances are you won’t break the bank.
Food: No food, sadly. Monson, MA doesn’t have the same sort of thriving food truck scene that some other locations enjoy, so you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to food.
Final Thoughts: Tree House runs a tight ship and the brewery itself is fantastic. Limited availability is really the only thing that keeps Tree House from perfection, but the sheer quality of the beer itself makes that issue feel like an awfully small one. Still, the fact that it’s possible to walk out of Tree House with just a few cans of beer on some days takes some of the shine off. But if you keep an eye on the "on tap" page of their website and keep apprised of their Twitter updates, you can usually figure out which days are your best bet and give yourself the best possible odds.
It won’t be too long before Tree House moves to a new location, so my goal is certainly to enjoy this one while it lasts. It’s a great facility filled with friendly people (be sure to tip them well!) and some of the best beer you’re ever likely to taste.
Brewery Name: Banger Brewing
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: Vegas Baby! Located right on the old Vegas Strip at 450 Fremont Street.
Facebook: Banger Brewing
Growlers: They sell a couple different options at the Brewery including my favorite look: the tiny keg growler.
The Beers: Tons! Here are the beers that I tried on my visit:
They’ve got a slightly different list up at the moment and it seems that they rotate quite a bit. Banger is clearly going for beers outside the norm, with a few staples that everyone digs of course. The Hop Band Boom and Uncle Jud’s are both solid beers that fall in line with what one should expect from a good craft brewery. The Miley Sours is a bit unique coming from the brown ale, but not so overbearing that even non-sour fans will enjoy the taster of it. After that, WOW are these beers cool. The El Heffe absolutely begs to be paired with good food (chips and guac would be my choice) and the Step-Child somehow works in a massive kick of cucumber without making this beer taste like gin. The Morning Joe, however, completely wowed me. As you may be tired of hearing through my review posts, I am not a wheat beer fan. Banger already gave me a Hefe and a Kolsch that I enjoyed and then I had this one. I’d never had a light beer that was coffee flavored, and am not sure I normally would’ve even gone for it. It was so cool! This would be a no brainer for our Worth A Shot section and I’d highly recommend to anyone who likes beer or coffee (pretty sure that's everyone)!
Vibe: Right up my alley!
The bar itself could easily be mistaken for a nice cocktail bar if not for the brewing equipment and aging barrels at one end. Everything has great finishes with tons of stainless steel, barrel wood, and great use of their logo throughout. It was consistently busy while I visited (a weekend night, fairly late) as one would expect being on the strip. I like a place to be busy enough that there is a bit of electricity in the air but not so busy that I can’t get to the bar easily. A lot to ask for in some places I know, but it definitely adds to the experience.
Bartenders were EXCELLENT and were happy to come and chat with us between waves of customers after we showed some interest. They also offered info on a Saison they were bottling and gave us a try of the Shotski with our beers.
They’ve got glass walls that view into their brewery and have aging barrels and kegs everywhere as decoration and space fillers. Outside is obviously designed to fit the strip and not the inside of the brewery, but no harm there.
Dogs: Though I didn’t see anything about this, I can’t imagine dogs are okay here.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Kind of tough here. Full pours and tasters seemed on the cheap side which is my main criteria. The stuff they had bottled, all of the merch, and growler fills seemed a bit expensive. I wrote the latter off to being in Vegas. They also run two happy hours every day which is always a welcome surprise to stumble into late-night.
Food: No food here, but plenty around and a really laid back atmosphere.
Final Thoughts: I don’t hold not having food against breweries like this, and my only suggestion is that they have a few more standard beer types available. I know that sounds counter-intuitive to what I have been harping on about the amazing flavored brews, but those are ones you want one pint of, not six. I’d love to see two West Coast IPAs on the menu and perhaps something like an Amber or Pale Ale. The Uncle Jud stout was delicious, but again, I think they might benefit from having a basic dark beer on the menu for those more interested in a few full pours.
Overall, this was a terrific experience and I was so very pleasantly surprised with this being a brewery wedged into the Las Vegas strip. No tourist-trap feel to this place at all and I’d highly recommend dropping in for the unique brews they’ve got.
Drink With Us
Three friends. Three corners of the country. One passion for beer.
Heady Topper. Focal Banger. What Could Be Better than a Trip to The Alchemist?
The Hills Are Alive (with Incredible Beer) at von Trapp Brewing
Get Out of the City and Into Woods Beer Co.