Thursday marked the grand opening of the first seasonal beer garden on the Charles River Esplanade.
Everett-based Night Shift Brewing is now operating the Owl’s Nest beer garden in a self-contained area of the park at the Storrow Memorial Embankment Park (Fiedler Field). Its hours of operation are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 10 p.m. (last call at 9:30 p.m.), Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m. (last call at 9:30 p.m.) and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. (last call at 7:30 p.m.) It will remain open through late October.
Offerings include a selection of six Night Shift beers, as well as several other craft beers from New England and Illinois, cider, wine, non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. A Chubby Chickpea food-truck was also on-site Thursday serving Middle Eastern fare.
While the beer garden didn’t officially launch until Thursday, Derek Alten, Night Shift Brewing’s director of hospitality, estimates that the previous night’s soft opening drew a total crowd of around 400. News of the soft opening was disseminated via a newsletter sent to members of Night Shift’s Brewing Society, as well as through an email blast from the Esplanade Association.
“A lot of people also stopped by who were really interested in the concept,” Alten said.
Conor Henrie, a resident of Cambridge’s Central Square, patronized the beer garden Thursday after bicycling by the soft opening the day before.
“Other cities have a lot of life on their rivers…and we have such a beautiful piece of land that’s underused,” Henrie said.
Night Shift was selected as the vendor for the new beer garden after undertaking a selective and competitive process, Alten said, adding that the endeavor is the result of a unique partnership between the brewery, the Esplanade Association and the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation. Together, they will also open another beer garden overlooking the Charles River at the Christian A. Herter Park on Soldiers Field Road (across from Harvard Stadium Gate 14) this week.
While the commitment for both beer gardens is only for this season, Alten said he hopes that both will lead to longer-term commitments.