Night Shift’s Rob Burns Rethinks Light Beer And Maybe The Craft Beer Biz

Night Shift Brewing recently announced the return of something they call a ‘craft light lager’…a beer that they hope will set a new standard within the light beer category.

There was a time when releasing a light beer would have been seen as the antithesis of everything craft beer stood for. But clearly NSB’s Co-founder Rob Burns thinks differently…

Here’s the deal…

In announcing Nite Lite Burns cited recent IRI data, which detailed that nearly 100% of the light beer sales in Massachusetts were Big Beer brands…And he saw a possible opening for the Everett-based brewery.

“As we looked at opportunities in the market, we realized that our next big thing wasn’t in the typical craft brewery sandbox – it was in light beer…If you look at existing light beer options, it becomes clear that there’s a lot of overlap: bland flavors, redundant branding, and macro-brewery after macro-brewery. We think customers deserve better than this sea of sameness.”

Night Shift’s Nite Lite (love the name) is a 4.3% ABV Lager that’s just 120 calories per serving. But Burns contends that it is far from a typical light lager…

“Nite Lite has a high malt-to-corn ratio…it’s unfiltered, unpasteurized, all natural, and excludes any preservatives or additives. Consumers no longer have to choose between craft beer and light beer. Nite Lite is both.”

Night Shift’s Rob Burns

With more craft brewers than ever before, introducing Mexican lagers of their own, and now this ‘craft beer light’ option we asked Rob Burns a couple more questions about craft beer’s changing landscape that we’d been kicking around…

ACB: Is the craft beer industry returning to more traditional beer lines to attract new customers? What factors led to Night Shift’s decision to add Nite Lite to your year-round portfolio?

RB: We believe it’s important to expand the category and look beyond the craft beer world. If we can get more people interested in craft by producing a better lite beer then hopefully they will try a pale ale and an IPA next. Light beer has specific occasions just like craft beer and we want to be accessible to all of them. Whether it’s having an award winning IPA, like Santilli, at dinner or having a few beers at a backyard BBQ party. 

ACB: Is the craft beer the industry, once driven by newer and bolder, hoppier and stronger beers experiencing some sort of consumer burnout or retrenchment? Is your Nite Lite a reflection of that?

RB: Our core hoppy beers are continuing to grow at a rapid pace but at the end of a long day we often reach for something else. Our team loves drinking lagers and lighter beers but we hated not being able to find many independent options out there. So Nite lite was our solution. We do believe there is some hop fatigue out there but we don’t foresee that ending IPA as the top of the craft styles. 

ACB: There’s no denying that in introducing a ‘craft light lager’ you’ll be competing with Big Beer when it comes to pricing…any thoughts on that?

RB:As for pricing, Nite Lite aims to be competitive. 12-packs will be featured in the light beer section with a suggested retail price of $14.99, 4-packs in the craft section for a suggested retail price of $6.99.”

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All image credits: Night Shift Brewing

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