Some breweries focus on using just the four key ingredients in beer: yeast, malt, hops and water. The wide variety of available malts, hops and strains of yeast give a solid range of flavor profiles. Other breweries, like Night Shift Brewery in Everett, MA, like to use adjuncts, non-traditional ingredients that add complementary flavors to the beer. Adjuncts can be hit or miss. A well used adjunct can add interesting flavor combinations and complexity, but it is important to not overwhelm the beer. Night Shift makes beers with an incredible variety of adjunct ingredients, including honey, tea, chili peppers, salt, chocolate, spices and fruit. One of Night Shift’s popular winter beers is Taza Stout, brewed with ginger and roasted chicory root. The beer is aged on organic roasted cacao from Taza Chocolate in Somerville, MA. Night Shift uses a Belgian yeast strain for fermentation, so the this could be classified as a Belgian dark ale instead of a stout. Like all beers from Night Shift, Taza Stout is made in small batches and the recipe is constantly evolving. Each bottle is hand-labeled with the date, batch number and ABV.
Night Shift Brewing Taza Stout pours a very dark brown with a mild tan head. The smell starts with strong dark chocolate, followed by some ginger and a touch of smokiness. There is also a mild scent of fruity esters from the yeast, a bit of green apple and must. The taste of the beer is really complex – there is a lot going on here. The dark malts come through strongly, with lots of chocolate flavor in addition to notes of coffee, brown sugar and plum. The Belgian yeast and chicory root combine to add smoky, spicy, roasted and funky flavors. The ginger is definitely present in the taste, especially as the beer warms. The ginger is actually a little stronger in this batch (#15) than when I tasted this beer last winter. The ginger along with some bittering hops balance out the sweetness from the malts. At 6.2% ABV this isn’t an overly alcoholic beer, but the complexity and full body makes it a slow sipper. Overall this is a solid beer. If you like complex, dark and malty beers I recommend giving it a shot. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.