Master Brewers: Two New Micro-breweries Open on Charlton Street

October 12, 2011
By

Owner Chris Tkach at Idle Hands Brewery in Everett.

Everett is now home to two brand new nano-breweries.

Idle Hands Brewery, led by founder and owner  Chris Tkach of Charlestown, and Night Shift Brewing, led by founders and owners Rob Burns, Michael Oxton, and Michael O’Mara of Somerville are located in adjacent units inside a building off of Route 99 South at 3 Charlton St.

The two businesses are part of a fast-growing segment of the industry called craft brewing.

Idle Hands Brewery

Chris Tkach said his

Owners Michael Oxton and Ron Burns at Night Shift Brew¬ery in Everett.

company began brewing a new beer, Idle Hands Craft Ales, in August.

“We have a couple of beers in the pipeline but we haven’t gone out to the market yet,” said Tkach. “We’ve had a couple of growler hours which allows the public to come in here and purchase a growler (64-ounce container of beer). Our beer is available only out of our brewery right now.”

Tkach, 38, has been a home brewer for 17 years, testing batches out of the kitchen in his home in Charlestown.

“We developed our own recipes – after 17 years of home brewing you tend to figure out what combinations of ingredients work well together,” said Tkach. “A lot of the recipes have been very successful at beer tasting competitions and received great scores from the judges.”

Idle Hands Craft Ales has received favorable recommendations from customers. “Everybody who has tried it has given us very positive feedback which is encouraging,” said Tkach. “I think everybody is just excited to have a local brewer. We’ve had several agents that have come in from the area and they’re very excited to have a brewery that’s close to them.”

Tkach said the time from brewing the beer to when it’s ready to go into the keg is three to four weeks. “The stronger beers need to sit and age a little bit longer so those could take two to three months,” he said.

The company currently brews two types of beer, Patriarch, which is a Belgian single, and Pandora, a Belgian pale ale which is the company’s flagship beer. Pandora will be packaged in kegs as well as bottles and be available in package stores, bars, and restaurants.

How does Tkach and his wife Grace, who assists in the brewery business, hope to make their product known to customers?

“A lot of craft beer marketing wise is done through word of mouth – at festivals, tastings and those sort of events,” said Tkach. “Obviously we have aspirations to grow larger than a nano-brewery and it’s going to take six to twelve months to do that. When it comes time for us to expand, we’ll have to look at either taking on some investors or getting some bank loans to buy the equipment we’re going to need.”

Tkach encourages Everett customers to check the company’s Web site, idlehandscraftales.com for future sample tastings at the brewery.

Night Shift Brewing

Rob Burns says the name Night Shift Brewing comes from the fact that he and fellow owners Michael Oxton and Michael O’Mara have days job and “this is our second job, our night shift – we spend our nights on getting this business started and crafting the recipes.”

Burns, 26, is a software engineer at an internet company. Oxton, 26, just finished working as a production assistant for a major motion picture. O’Mara, 26, works as a bartender and server at Redbone’s Barbecue in Somerville.

Burns said the goal is for Night Shift Brewing to open in January, 2012.

“We’ll have a tasting room where people can try samples and buy beers to go,” said Burns. “We’ll also probably sell to a few bars and liquors in the Everett area.”

Burns said the company grew out of the three owners’ “love of beer.”

“We became very interested in trying as many craft beers as we could,” said Burns. “We started doing weekly tastings in our apartment, inviting 10-15 people over and everyone had to bring a different beer. We got really into it and wanted to take it a step further and understand what made this beer different from that beer. And to do that, we wanted to brew with the ingredients and learn the difference by actually brewing beers.”

What is unique about Night Shift Brewing’s beer selections?

“We’re trying to incorporate unique ingredients like green tea – one beer that we have is Bee Tea and it’s a wheat beer that has orange blossom honey, orange peel, green tea, and it has an American hops to it. It’s a hybrid of different styles.”

The green tea being used by Night Shift Brewing  is from a local tea importer, Mem Tea, which is based in Somerville.

“We’re going to try to use ingredients in the beers from other local businesses,” said Burns. “Another example is that we have a stout (Taza Stout) that has a roasted hickory root and chocolate that we buy from Taza Chocolate in Somerville.”

The other beers are called Jojo and Trifecta. “We’ll start releasing seasonal beers as we get up and running,” said Burns. “We’re considering a bunch of different recipes.”

Burns said they have a test lab in their Somerville apartment where they brew 15-gallon batches of beer. “We always have people over trying to get feedback on our latest recipes,” said Burns. “We definitely get positive feedback.”

Burns and Oxton both attended Bowdoin College and moved to the Boston area following their graduation. O’Mara is a graduate of Philadelphia University and Burns’s long-time friend.

“We’re very excited about starting our brewery,” said Burns. “This is something we thought about doing for awhile. For the past year it’s becoming more and more a reality. We signed a lease in July and we’re really excited to be a part of this brewers’ community as well as to sell beer to the public. We’ve been sharing the beer with people from some time now but it will be very exciting to have it on the store shelves where even more people can try it.”

Everett residents can learn more about Night Shift Brewing on the company’s Web site, nightshiftbrewing.com.

  • HOLY CRAP I’m excited for these guys to burst the bubble into the MA local beer scene… I met Michael at Redbones one night and was impressed by his passion for beer. I’m wicked excited to see where they land. Keep it up guys! I’ll be watching the shelves.