Night Shift’s Annie Oatley takes aim at India pale ales

Night Shift’s Annie Oatley takes aim at India pale ales

Night Shift Brewing Co. is feeling its oats these days — and in more ways than one.

The fast-growing and critically acclaimed Everett brewery opened its massively expanded taproom annex this autumn, adding 1,800 square feet of space plus capacity for an additional 180 guests, while doubling its number of taps from 24 to 48. The added space and draft lines helped relieve the pressure on one of Greater Boston’s most perpetually popular beer-drinking haunts.

Night Shift is also about to introduce Annie Oatley, a highly hopped oat-based India pale ale that pays tribute to a sparingly used brewing grain and to the famous Wild West gunslinger, Annie Oakley.

“Oats help round out the edges in beers, whether in an oatmeal stout or a hoppy pale ale,” said Night Shift head brewer Joe Mashburn.

Night Shift releases Annie Oatley to the public at its taproom at 11 a.m. tomorrow. The beer will find its way into retail accounts in the days and weeks ahead.

When people think of the grains that go into making beer, they typically think of barley, wheat or rye, and maybe even rice — the latter of which is much maligned (and wrongly so) by beer lovers for its frequent use in mainstream global lagers.

But oats often take a central role this time of year when the season calls for more flavorful winter beers with a richer, heavier mouthfeel. Picture that steaming hot bowl of oatmeal, with all its gummy viscosity. Oats impart a similar effect in the brewing process when mixed into the mash with malted barley.

Oats, despite their rarity in brewing, have inspired their own style over the centuries: oatmeal stout. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout from England is probably the world’s best known beer of the style.

American craft brewers have tackled oatmeal stout with great gusto, too. Regional and national craft beer makers such as 3 Floyds, Rogue and Stone each offer oatmeal stouts. In New England, cult brewer Hill Farmstead of Vermont occasionally offers Earl, a flaked oat stout with organic Guatemalan coffee, while Ipswich Ale Brewery here in Massachusetts offers year-round a critically acclaimed Oatmeal Stout that achieved a perfect 100 rating from the Alstrom brothers of fame.

Night Shift’s Annie Oatley, meanwhile, is something of a departure from those dark and deep-drinking oat-based stouts. It’s a dark golden beer in the IPA-vein made with the nouveau hops that are the hallmark of Night Shift beers, including Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic.

The tribute to Annie Oakley was largely accidental.

“We were brainstorming names and somebody brought up Quaker Oats,” said Night Shift marketing manager Janine Pohorely. “It turns out Annie Oakley was raised a Quaker. So we made the name of the beer a riff on someone who’s a great historical figure anyway.”

(Night Shift Brewing Co., 87 Santilli Highway, Everett, 617-294-4233, www.night

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