Two Boston Breweries Won Medals at the 2017 Great American Beer Fest

Try the award-winning Matisse saison by Night Shift Brewing, and a wild Cambridge Brewing collaboration with Jester King.
Night Shift Matisse saison won a silver medal at GABF in 2017

Night Shift Matisse saison won a silver medal at GABF in 2017. / Photo by Tim Oxton / Night Shift Brewing

This past weekend, while Bostonians were enjoying the unseasonably warm weather (and maybe an Eventide lobster roll), two of the area’s best-known breweries were adding medals to their trophy cases from the Great American Beer Festival. Night Shift Brewing’s Matisse is the silver-medal saison this year, while a Cambridge Brewing Company mixed-fermentation collaboration with Jester King Brewery earned bronze in its funky category.

“Our production crew worked extremely hard to perfect this recipe and there’s a lot of pride in being recognized next to some fantastic fellow breweries,” says Night Shift cofounder Michael Oxton. Matisse notched second place in the Classic Saison category, flanked by the gold-medal Saison by Funkwerks, out of Fort Collins, Colo., and One Arm Farmhouse Ale, by Hobbs Tavern & Brewing Co. out of West Ossipee, N.H.

“Matisse is special to us because it represents our desire to showcase traditional recipes, even as we push forward and innovate,” Oxton says.

Night Shift still has a limited number of purply pink cans still available at its Everett taproom, and there are some in the market, as well. The saison should continue to flow on draft there into the weekend.

“We don’t have an exact release date for another batch of Matisse, but we’re definitely thinking that another release is in store in the not-too-distant future,” Oxton says.

Cambridge Brewing Company / Jester King Cor Cordium wild ale won a bronze medal at GABF in 2017

Cambridge Brewing Company / Jester King Cor Cordium wild ale
won a bronze medal at GABF in 2017. / Photo provided by Cambridge Brewing Company

Cambridge Brewing Company also has bottles of its newly-bronzed Cor Cordium available at its Kendall Square brewpub. CBC’s Lee Lord and brewmaster Will Meyers created the wild fermentation with visitors from Austin brewery Jester King last fall, right around Boston’s first Copenhagen Beer Celebration. Meyers and Jester King founder Jeffrey Stuffings are longtime friends—Stuffings has a law degree from Boston College.

“Our breweries have a shared interest in wild, spontaneous, and mixed-culture fermentations as well as [in] the idea that beer can express terroir through the use of local cereals, fruits, herbs, and microflora,” Meyers says.

Cor Cordium came in third behind releases from Wiley Roots Brewing Co. of Greeley, Colo., and Firestone Walker Barrelworks of Buellton, Calif., in the Mixed Fermentation Brett Beer category. It started as a saison made with local malt from Valley Malt, and was fermented entirely in stainless steel with JK’s Texas Hill Country mixed yeast culture, and CBC’s house mixed Brettanomyces.

After several weeks, CBC transferred half the beer into another stainless tank (called Tanky McTankface) and added foraged cornelians, a cherry-like fruit from a local species of dogwood, and local cranberries for more color and acidity. It aged on the fruit for nine more months.

“If you are wondering about the remaining half of the collaboration beer, it was sent to oak barrel for 10 months, and has now taken up residency in Tanky McTankface along with Meyer lemons which I salt-preserved, and some preserved lemons and tangerines which came from the citrus groves near Jester King’s countryside home,” Meyers explains. “It’s got a little more planned for it before its release later this winter.”

The Great American Beer Fest is a pioneering convention held  in Denver annually since 1982. It’s the industry’s largest festival, attracting more than 800 participating breweries every year. Breweries submit their beers to be judged in 96 different categories, and the GABF award 296 medals in 2017. Check out the full list here.

Night Shift Brewing, 87 Santilli Highway, Everett, 617-294-4233, nightshiftbrewing.com.

Cambridge Brewing Company, One Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-494-1994, cambridgebrewingcompany.com.


Jacqueline Cain Associate Food Editor at Boston Magazine jcain@bostonmagazine.com