Craft beer isn’t just for drinking anymore – local chefs have been integrating Night Shift brewery’s flavorful beers with food in creative, delicious ways.
“After a tasting at their [Night Shift] tap room, it was a done deal. I had to have them at Oleana,” said Lauren Friel, sommelier at Oleana restaurant.
Started in March 2012 by Rob Burns, Michael O’Mara, and Michael Oxton, Night Shift Brewing is a nanobrewery known around town for their avant-garde brewing style. Ingredients such as habanero pepper and agave nectar in “Viva Habanera”, and rosemary and pink peppercorn in “Rose” sound more like something you’d find in 5-star kitchen than in a beer bottle.
“I agree with the idea that we’re a little unorthodox,” said Oxton. “But because we’re a small production, we don’t have to invest in huge batches. We can be experimental.”
Sous Chef Rob Picardi at Prezza, a fine dining restaurant in the North End, has been working with Night Shift beer for just under two years.
“In my opinion, Night Shift beers are the best beers to pair with food,” said Picardi.
“A lot of my dishes have rosemary in them. We can serve the Rose with eight different menu items. What it says on the label is really what you can pair food with,” he added.
Also utilizing Rose, Friel paired the beer with a duck and kumquat soup she created on New Year’s Eve.
“The rosemary in the beer was a beautiful aromatic companion to the complexity of the dish, especially alongside the kumquats,” she explained.
Pairing food with beer is something the guys at Night Shift have been conscious of since the brewery’s conception. On each label is an item from a local restaurant that pairs well with the beer. On a bottle of Rose, you’ll find the charcuterie plate from M3, chicken wings from Eat at Jumbo’s, and mussels fromWulf’s Fish Market on the label.
“It’s a great way to shout out to local restaurant, as well as it is a nice guide for the beer,” said Oxton.
Disappointed that a Prezza dish didn’t make the coveted Rose label, Picardi plans to claim a spot on Night Shift’s limited release Quad Reserve beer’s label, which will be available later this year.
While chefs like Picardi and Friel opt to create dishes that compliment Night Shift’s beers, others opt to cook with it.
Local foodie JJ Gonson, chef and owner of Cuisine en Locale, a personal chef service in Boston, started cooking with Night Shift beers four months ago.
“They [Night Shift] reached out to us and were extremely enthusiastic, and wanted to show us their product,” said Gonson.
Gonson’s menus use 99% locally sourced ingredients, down to the alcohol she uses for cooking. Rather than using expensive, local wine in her beef stew recipe, Gonson substitutes the traditional red wine with the more economical Taza Stout, which Night Shift brews using local Taza brand chocolate.
“We work with a lot of their beers,” said Gonson. “We also use the Rose beer for braising turkey or chicken, like the way we would use white wine.”
Executive Pastry Chef at Oleana, Maura Kilpatrick, also uses Night Shift in her recipes. She bakes with Taza Stout for her ginger bread, which is available during the winter months at Sofra, Oleana’s bakery.
Friel said she describes Night Shift’s beers as “food beers” to curious diners at her restaurant – and she might be on to something. As local food and beer cultures intersect, brewers are becoming chefs in their own right; blending culinary-inspired flavors with long-established brewing methods.
And the results are pretty awesome.
“As a foodie, I love craft beer,” said Gonson. “I support craft beer the same way I support local food.”