EVERETT – The expansion of craft breweries in Massachusetts isn’t anything new. The last twelve months alone have seen the growth of new taprooms and satellite operations from the likes of Jack’s Abby, Lord Hobo and (of course) the mushrooming ego that is Trillium. It’s been estimated that over 54 new breweries are scheduled to open up in the state by the end of 2019 alone; and while it’s easy to think of it as oversaturation, all signs seem to indicate craft beer is far from the bubble on the verge of bursting that naysayers have been predicting for the past few years.
But the expansion of craft breweries for the most part have been locally isolated. It’s not as much a question of regional bias as marketing. Craft breweries in New England are a definitive phenomenon, in the same way that coffee in the Northwest or wine in northern California is. It’s easy to forget that there were just over a dozen micro breweries in the state only 20 years ago. These days, there are over 130. It’s as much about a selling point as it is an end product.
And Night Shift Brewing wants to bring their product home. Not to where they started, but where they were raised: Philadelphia.
“Thanks to all our thirsty fans, we opened Lovejoy, launched coffee, and today announce our new Philadelphia brewery,” the Everett-based company announced in an Instagram post on Wednesday. “With an Everett expansion also in the works, that’s three new brewhouses in 12 months! Hard to believe this all started with a 15 gallon homebrew kettle.”
The Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustments recently approved a permit for a sit-down restaurant in the Roxborough neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia with an existing distributor of malt or brewed beverages. The Boston Globe confirmed the permit belongs to Night Shift, who plans on building a 130,000-square-foot brewery and distributorship costing over $10 million. If successful, Night Shift could potentially be the third-largest Massachusetts brewer, trailing behind Boston Beer and Harpoon Brewing.
A fairly impressive impressive figure for a company that began out of a Somerville apartment a little over ten years ago.
“In one sense, it’s been on the radar since before we opened the business,” co-founder Michael Oxton, who grew up in Philadelphia, told Boston.com earlier this week. “Way back in the day, when we were first launching our business, it was Philly or Boston. Obviously we landed on Boston, so Philly got sidelined.”
While Oxton indicated he anticipates the additional brewery location could reach a production capacity of 200,000 barrels, the expansion—scheduled to occur by the end of 2020—isn’t limited to Philadelphia. The current Everett facility will be upgrading their production line to handle 30,000 barrels over the next few weeks, just six months after their expansion to a 12,000 square foot location on Lovejoy Wharf earlier this year.
"The biggest thing I see is a stronger and more passionate interest in local beer,” Oxton said in a 2016 interview. “People are constantly asking what's brewed around here, "Who's from Massachusetts? Who's from New England?" That inherent focus that's becoming a part of more and more beer drinkers is going to affect the success of breweries trying to get their beers on shelves. Our retailers tell us they want to bring us in because customers are asking for something from down the street.”
Image courtesy of Night Shift Brewing