Night Shift Distributing Inks First Partnerships

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(Tim Oxton/Night Shift Brewing)

Night Shift Brewing’s recently launched wholesale operation, Night Shift Distributing, has signed its first four craft brewery partners.

Announced Wednesday, the wholesaler wing of the Everett, Massachusetts-headquartered craft brewery will begin selling products from Pipeworks Brewing Company (Chicago, Illinois), Magnify Brewing (Fairfield, New Jersey), Mast Landing Brewing Company (Westbrook, Maine) and the Reinheits Boten Group (New York importer of German beer) in early April.

In an interview with Brewbound, Night Shift co-founder Rob Burns said his distribution company would first target about 300 accounts in the greater Boston area that already purchase Night Shift Brewing products. The focus, he said, will be on securing off-premise retail placements at chain accounts like Total Wine & More, Wegmans and Whole Foods, as well as independent retailers such Yankee Spirits, Redstone Liquors, Kappy’s Fine Wine & Spirits, and Craft Beer Cellar. The company will also target popular craft-centric restaurants like Row 34 and Brewer’s Fork, he added.

Perhaps the most well-known and sought after brand that Night Shift Distributing added to its portfolio was Pipeworks, a small Chicago-based craft brewery that had built a reputation for self-distributing a robust and ever-rotating lineup of beers throughout Chicago.

“It’s going to be more heavy on can SKUs,” Burns said. “We’re working on frequency and volume with them. We’ll get five pallets of beer on the first shipment. That’s a healthy amount but not crazy. It’s enough to get people excited about the brand.”

Pipeworks is only allowed to sell a maximum of 7,500 barrels in Illinois each year, however, and had been looking to expand its distribution footprint in out-of-state markets. The company sells small quantities of beer in Colorado and entered Connecticut earlier this year via Sarene Craft Beer Distributors. Sarene, which also sells Pipeworks and Night Shift products in New York, introduced the companies when Pipeworks expressed interest in entering the Boston market.

“They have a creepily common origin story to us,” Burns said. “That’s why I’ve always paid attention to them.”

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(Tim Oxton/Night Shift Brewing)

Pipeworks plans to make regular monthly shipments to Night Shift Distributing, even though the wholesaler does not plan on enforcing minimum volume requirements for any of its new partners, Burns said.

“We’re open to taking pretty much anything from these guys,” he said.

Meanwhile, New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing will initially send its “big, bold, in-your-face beers” to Massachusetts in kegs, and ship canned products in time for the summer selling season, Burns said.

“It’s not going to be a ton, and that’s OK,” he said. “We’re willing to grow with a brand.”

Maine’s Mast Landing Brewing reached out to Night Shift when the distributorship was first announced in October, Burns said. At the time, the brewery was making beer on a 3-barrel brewing system and wasn’t producing enough beer to send to Boston. However, Mast Landing recently installed a 7-barrel brewhouse, which gave the company enough additional capacity to consider expanding its reach beyond Maine.

“They’re still pretty small, but they definitely have some run rate now,” Burns said. “It won’t be a ton of volume for those guys, but we’re excited to have them. They’re a really good hidden gem that’s being overshadowed by the other Portland breweries.”

Like Magnify Brewing, Mast Landing will also seed the Boston market with draft beer before it ships cans this summer, Burns added.

Additionally, Night Shift Distributing will offer a majority of the Reinheits Boten Group’s portfolio — which includes the Distelhäuser, Zoller-Hof, Friedenfelser Brauerei, Riedenburger Brauhaus and Himburgs Braukunst Keller brands — in kegs and bottles, Burns said.

Night Shift Distributing is also working to bring other craft brands to Boston before the end of the year, Burns added.

“There’s a finite amount of beer that Night Shift can make. Right now, we’re maxed out,” he said. “We have the trucks and the salespeople, and we’re excited to start selling some other beer.”

Talks are ongoing with at least a half-dozen potential partners to see if they’re “a good mutual fit,” Burns said, and the next wave of new distribution deals could be announced as early as this summer.