News Archive 2009-2018

How To (Home)Brew World-Class Beer Archives


By Rob Burns ’07 and Michael Oxton ’07

    1. Brew with good people. You’ll have more fun, you’ll end up making better beer, and you’re less likely to clean the mash tun alone.


    1. Self-educate. It’s really difficult to get creative if you don’t understand the basics. Learn everything you can about what you’re doing, and what you’re not doing. Innovation comes from knowing the basics.


    1. Create interesting recipes. Do it better. Do it differently. We wanted to introduce a softer, more citrusy, modern pale ale to the market, and we came up with Whirlpool, our flagship pale ale. There are plenty of pales ales out there, but none that taste like Whirlpool. You don’t have to brew something totally weird to make it unique—though, weird is fun, too.


    1. Invest in good equipment. Your beer will be easier to make, the quality of your product will be higher, and you’ll end up saving money in the long run.


    1. Clean, clean, clean. Don’t equate great equipment with great beer. Dirty space means dirty beer. Pretty straightforward. Don’t mess this one up.


    1. Maintain systems and processes. This sounds boring, but it’s crucial, especially as time goes by. Track and record everything. Make your steps easily repeatable and understandable to anyone. If you plan on growing your operation even slightly, this will really help you do that.


    1. Make it pretty. People will drink more of what’s inside your package if it looks good on the outside. We labeled our very first home brew bottles. Giving your beer a visual personality—super simple or wildly complex—legitimately improves the overall experience of drinking and appreciating it.


    1. Start with passion—and feed it. Passion for your craft, whatever it is, enables you to do (and keep doing) everything listed above, and for the right reasons. If your enthusiasm starts to slip, rethink your approach—turn left, reverse, do whatever it takes to get it back.



Rob Burns ’07, Michael Oxton ’07, and Mike O’Mara founded Night Shift Brewing in 2012.

An abbreviated version of this piece first appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of Bowdoin magazine.