As a stopgap until it can identify a more permanent solution for capacity constraints, Massachusetts’ Night Shift Brewing will begin augmenting its production via a contract brewing agreement with Smuttynose Brewing Company in New Hampshire.
Night Shift co-founder Michael Oxton told Brewbound that production at the Everett-based craft brewery has been maxed out at 20,000 barrels for the las year.
“We can’t produce a single drop more,” he said. “This is a really nice stopgap to get more beer out there that’s at the same quality that we’re used to.”
The arrangement meets a need for both companies: The smaller Night Shift gets access to much needed tank time, while the larger Smuttynose is able to fill fermentation vessels that, at times, have sat empty following a 2014 expansion that brought annual capacity to 65,000 barrels. Last year, sales of Smuttynose beer decreased 8 percent, to 48,000 barrels.
In settling on a contract partner, Oxton said Smuttynose’s facility LEED-certified gold facility “checked off all of the boxes” for Night Shift’s needs.
“It’s a ridiculously nice brewery,” he said. “We get to learn a lot from these guys. They have a ton of experience. We’re teaching them some stuff; they’re teaching us some stuff. There’s definitely a mutual benefit outside of the financial stuff.”
The arrangement marks the first time that Night Shift has contract brewed its beer with another manufacturer.
At Smuttynose, Night Shift will have access to upwards of 5,000 barrels of additional capacity. Securing that extra space capacity was a key component of Night Shift’s future growth plans, Oxton said.
“When the time comes — when we have our expanded production somewhere else that we’re doing ourselves — we’ll already have that volume out there, and we can assume it,” he said.
Night Shift will initially brew two days a month at Smuttynose with plans to add more brew days in the coming months, Oxton said. He added that Night Shift’s team is making weekly trips to New Hampshire, and its quality team has flavor matched the beer to ensure it maintains the same flavor profile as the liquid coming from Everett.
“They let our people be a part of the entire process, from brewing through cellaring and packaging,” Oxton said. “We can be as involved as we’d like to be.”
Night Shift has already brewed two of its core offerings — One Hop This Time IPA, Bennington oatmeal stout and Santilli IPA — at Smuttynose’s Hampton production brewery.
Beer produced with Smuttynose will be shipped back to Boston and distributed through Night Shift Distributing in kegs and cans, Oxton said. He added that the company is looking to brew additional offerings, including Village Lager, at Smuttynose in the next two months.
Despite contract brewing in New Hampshire, Night Shift does not distribute in the state. In the coming months, however, Night Shift plans to expand distribution within Massachusetts, New York and Maine.