When it comes to beers, I’m not going to lie: I often get sucked into what seems unusual. If it’s a little off the beaten path, there’s a chance I’m going to try it. And as fan of spicy peppers, when I saw the Viva Habanera by Night Shift Brewing, I couldn’t help but be excited.
The fact that Night Shift is a Bay State brewery — it’s based in Everett — added to the idea that this could be something special.
A 6.7% ABV rye beer, the Viva Habanera was a unique experience that I’d likely try again, especially in the company of friends.
My 750 ml bottle of the brew came from the company’s fourth batch, which was barrel aged in bourbon barrels for two months, thus leaving it uncarbonated and smooth. The pour revealed a lovely reddish liquid, but more than anything, it was the appeal of the beer’s aroma that got me salivating.
The nose picks up the smell of the habaneros, but also a pleasant blend of oak and bit of vanilla swirling in bourbon.
The taste was not far off from the smell. The rye in the beer is fleeting, slightly overpowered by everything else going on with it. There were distinct bourbon, oak and slight vanilla notes, but what caught my attention was the use of the peppers. Rather than an overwhelming heat, the habanero is balanced with agave, leaving the sweetness of the pepper up front with a slight tingle in the throat after and lingering in the aftertaste.
For fans of unique beers, or spicy things in general, the Viva Habanera is worth tracking down. The bottle costs less than $15 and the beer is a great conversation piece as well as a tasty beverage. Night Shift has tweaked each batch they’ve made, with details listed here: http://www.nightshiftbrewing.com/site/beers/core-lineup/viva-habanera/