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Viva Habanera | Night Shift Brewing

29 Reviews
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Viva HabaneraViva Habanera

Brewed by:
Night Shift Brewing
Massachusetts, United States | website

Style: Rye Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Rye ale with agave nectar and habanero peppers

Added by Jason on 04-30-2012

User Reviews
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Reviews: 29 | Ratings: 316
Photo of galwayjoyce
5/5  rDev +34.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Disclaimer: this is a VERY small-batch beer, from a very small-batch, craft/artisan brewery. For this reason, the intensity of heat varies WILDLY from bottle to bottle. If you love/know your craft beer, this is a sign that they are making this product with love and caution. As a company, I have loved watching NS learn through trial and error, and this process adds to the ride that NS takes you on, every time you open their products.
Boston: We have future legends on our hands.
Best chile beer on the market. Rich, amber color. Perfect head and lacing. Overwhelming nose. Great balance and mouthfeel.

If all things SPICE and FIRE are up your alley, then Viva Habanera is the whole damn boulevard. HEAT and HOP heads unite...stand up...your king has arrived, and he wears a crown of foam.

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Photo of MattyLedoux
4.41/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nightshift is awesome, just found out about them recently, everything I have tried is delicious.
This beer is awesome cook with. Marinate Chicken, Steak, vegetables etc... and interesting to drink, although i probably wouldn't want to kill a whole bottle. I'll definitely be doing it again.

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Photo of BeerMaverick
4.32/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Atwoods Tavern in Cambridge, MA.

Brief review - from memory.

Brown/amber color with no head whatsoever served in a flute glass. Completely translucent with no sediment or cloudiness. The heat of the habanero pepper is immediate and dominating with regards to the smell and taste (moreso for the taste). There is also a very nice balance of malt/hops since I was able to decipher both over something as bold as a pepper. The pepper flavor itself was very recognizable and tasty. Many pepper beers are a mess, but this did a great job of portraying the pepper used. This beer is medium-bodied and obviously leaves some heat in the aftertaste as intended. Overall I would highly recommend this beer because it's delicious and delivers as promised.

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Photo of NilocRellim
4.18/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the tap at the brewery on September 8th, 2012.

This beer poured a very appealing reddish/brown cloudy colour with an off-white head that doesn't last long. The smell of the habanero peppers is abundant, but not overpowering with a sweet note to it (probably because of the agave). The taste was what struck me as the most surprising. Unlike most pepper beers, the beer is not focused on the heat, but rather the flavour of the peppers. It tasted sweet initially then immediately moving into the flavour of the peppers with a bit of rye. The finish is when you get the heat, which is not overpowering at all, but extremely balanced. Overall the heat and sweetness are balanced and it is an extremely great beer.

Would I buy it again? Absolutely.

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Photo of Doomcifer
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%

Rye Malt and habanero pepper flesh along with a nice kick to the back of the throat. If you're not used to spicy food, avoid this. It is quite hot for the average person. Warms the entire chest. Personally, I love it.

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Photo of fourstringer
4.09/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 mL corked and caged bottle into a Brewer's Art goblet. Moderate hand. Bottled on 3/24/14. Had this on tap @ the brewery and bought a bottle to bring home.

A: Hazy, orange-amber body. 1 finger of off-white head. Ok retention. Scant lacing.

S: Sweet, bready malt. Rye spice. A hint of hot pepper essence. Touches of apple, mango, raisin, date. Trace floral notes.

T: Slightly spicy rye and malt open along with some light fruit notes. A pronounced, habanero-fueled burn develops quickly and lingers beyond the semi-dry finish. Hops are felt via a drying quality, but are mostly obscured by the capsaicin heat. One of the hotter pepper-augmented beer I've had and I'm not complaining. A complementary amount of sweetness from the malt and agave syrup, but nicely in check. Alcohol is well hidden.

M: Moderate carbonation with a creamy texture on the first glass. This somewhat abated as I moved down the bottle. Similarly, the initially moderate body lessened as the beer warmed.

O: I was surprised to read some earlier reviews: I found this one to bring a solid heat. Perhaps the bottle was a step-down from the version I had on tap, but was tasty nonetheless. Interestingly, I found it to fade a bit as it warmed, which is contrary to the typical experience. Overall, a well-balanced integration of hot peppers' sting, agave syrup's sweetness and rye's spicy maltiness.

As an aside, this would probably be better classified as a chile beer.


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Photo of Dope
3.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #5, bottled 8/9/12, 7.3% ABV

A: Pours a reddish amber with a good sized and fizzy tan head. Fades at a moderate pace, leaving almost zero lacing behind.

S: Some nice rye bread and lots of pepper. Vegetal pepper aroma with a strong chile heat. Agave nectar is fairly prominent as well. Spiced, hot, and sweet. Interesting.

T: Wow this one is definitely interesting. Spicy rye bread and sweet agave nectar up front. Turns into the vegetal pepper in the middle (but not too much) and then bam, in comes the wave of heat towards the finish. More burning chile pepper in the finish and lingering aftertaste. The lingering burn is one of the best parts, it goes on and on and on forever.

M: Medium bodied and smooth (other than the burning sensation!)

O: A very unique and surprisingly good beer. It's not very traditional but it has good, strong flavors with excellent balance. It's not too spicy, too hot or too sweet. The flavors meld surprisingly well. It's hot but not overly so, it's a borderline chile beer in my humble opinion. Definitely the star of the show in this one. Surprisingly smooth and drinkable for a beer of this style too.

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Photo of jlindros
3.94/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Big fluffy foamy head, hazy dark maroon slight orange color.

Nose nice pepper, light sweet malts, little fruity candy, light candy malt sugar, hint caramel, bit earthy.

Taste plenty of hot pepper, hot pepper, sweet candy malts, caramel, toasty reddish malts, light candy reddish malt, hint fruity yeast additions, light fruity hops. Lots of hot pepper that builds, sweet finish, lots of hot pepper finish.

Mouth is med bod, lighter carb.

Well the beer delivers the hot pepper, decent beer to go with it, but nothing too special or crazy.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.92/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly murky deep reddish brown color with a huge off white head that persists forever leaving moderate lace on the way down. Smells of spicy rye and peppery yeast phenols with a sweet lightly bready and caramel malt base with a hint of dark fruit. I can't find any peppers in the nose, they must be subtle. The flavor is sweet and malty up front with spice and rye providing balance. I found the pepper and it comes in lightly in the middle and lingers long into the finish. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet spicy mouthfeel. Nice brew, I could have used a bit more pepper but I enjoyed it just the same.

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Photo of PeterIngemi
3.88/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml into a dfh snifter batch# 6 bottled on 9/12/12

A: pours a hazy redish brown with half a finger if off white head that settles to a film... Nice spots of lacing...

S: some rye notes and a touch if sweet agave, not a lot goin on in the nose here, kind of like rye bread. Also a bit of Belgian yeast aroma as the beer begins to warm.

T: agave sweetness with some belgian yeast fruit notes, apple/cherry balance with rye complexity, there is a slight taste of pepper vegetativeneas on the finish where the pepper like in bringing some heat to the finish.

M: medium body and not as grainy as I expected from a rye beer, heat in the finish, leaving the mouth with a slight burnin habanero flavor.

O: I was wondering how the peppers would come into play here , and I feel as though they were done wonderfully, I am not usually a huge fan of pepper beers, this is well rounded with a nice bit of heat on the finish... Good show.

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Photo of gonzo000
3.87/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I like this beer quite a bit. The spice flavor on the finish is very mellow -smooth and not overpowering. I usually do not seek out spiced beers, but this one is a winner. Perfect amount of spice on the finish for a 'non spicy guy' like myself.

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Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Malty, caramel, russet body with light khaki colored head. Beer drinks rather smooth for having the spicy kick it has on the back end. Nice rye presence. Night Shift experiments well with flavors. This may not be a home run, but it's a solid sacrifice fly.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.79/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Hazed dark copper. Almost no head. Off-white drops to a thin collar in short order. Aggressive carbonation on the pour. Nice bright red notes when held to direct light.

Smell: Slight spicy rye. Some real pepper, as in the vegetable. Mild spiciness hides in the back. A mild sweetness pulls through. Nice and clean. Some caramel malts. A touch biscuity. Spicy as in pepper. Well balanced with a soft hint of the habanero heat.

Taste: Mellow pale malts with a mild roasted edge. Caramel sweetness with some biscuit/cracker dryness. Habanero spiciness sits on the lips and the back of the swallow. Touches of rye spiciness play with the raw pepper notes. Agave nectar is a clean, incredibly clean, underlying sweetness. Slight hints of grassy and herbal hops in the back. Warming allows the habanero to come through a bit more, but it never gets aggressive.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and smooth. A mild dryness on the back. Low-moderate carbonation.

Overall: Recent batches have dialed up the habanero and it works. Balanced and approachable for a chile beer.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This was a pretty beer. In a snifter it was a clear cherry amber color with virtually no head.

A spicy/peppery aroma. Grain. Faint hops.

Mostly a peppery taste. Some rye. Late hops.

I thought this was nicely spiced. Tangy, but not overdone. I had this with a Mexican salad (beans, peppers, onions, etc) and thought it complimented the entrée well.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.72/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

First had: on tap at Night Shift

Rusty brown pour with a thin off-white head. Aroma of caramel malts, mild peppery spice, light fruit notes. The taste was pretty mellow for a habanero beer, nice pale malt and honey/agave sweetness up front, toasty grains, green pepper, followed by some hot pepper prickle that was kept in check by the sweeter elements, making for a pretty smooth mouthfeel overall. Medium-bodied and quite enjoyable.

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Photo of hopdabble
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - absolutely toffee colored, opaque - only such colored beer I've yet met. Moderate head, white, 1/2 inch...spare bit of lacing.

S - deep, spicy without acid....faint resin...faintly like wild-yeasted bread while it's rising/resting. ....should that mean anything to you.

T - bitter without any sharpness at all, sweet near-finish then warming heat at the back of the tongue.

M - fine carbonation (meaning small but consistent, not at all flat, not overwhelming...) substantial body

Overall - such an interesting and tasty beer. Not something I'd likely get again, as this is not so much my style - very glad I tried it. I can imagine a friend who especially enjoys beer/food pairings having a lot of fun with this..

Batch # 20 - bottled 9/19/13 - consumed on 11/9/13

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Photo of cbutova
3.69/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Heard about this one a long time ago and looked forward to trying it. Notes from the weekend. Batch 16

A- Dark red body, almost brown, with a silky off-white head. Fine bubbles and a nice thick ring around the beer. Good legs and some nice lace webs.

S- Fruity up front for me with apple, banana and pepper notes. Clove and Belgian yeast spice certainly from the strain used here. Some toasted malts and brown sugar as well.

T- Definite habanero pepper flavor leads the way but does not overpower in any way, it gives off a pepper flesh flavor like the vegetable itself. Apple, raisin, grape, banana and some yeast spice. Toasted nutty malt, caramel and slight rye.

MF- Moderately thick body with a foamy, somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Spicy feel builds with time but at a low to medium level at it's peak. Carbonation is silky and on the higher end.

Nice Belgian Brown feel almost with good fruit and some habanero flavor.

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Photo of nootch23
3.66/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured this into a tulip glass.

A - I love the color of this beer. It pours a dark reddish brown color with about a fingers worth of off white head to it. Clearer at the bottom of the glass but gets darker from the middle of the glass up. The entire time I drank this I admired the color of this beer.

S - can definitely pick up traces of spiciness with a little floral hop characteristic. A little sweet honey mixed in there as well.

T - up front its very smooth with tiny traces of sweetness. Picked up quite a bit of maltiness and honey and little hints of dates or cherries. The magic happens in the back of the throat after swallowing. Thats when a little explosion of spiciness occurs. The spice isn't overpowering at all and still allowed me to enjoy the sweetness of the honey.

M - there was a semi-dry finish for me on this one. All that was left in my mouth was the spice, almost like I had some hot sauce or something.

O - this was the first time I had anything by Night Shift after hearing so much about them. I thought this was a very well crafted beer that was enjoyable. The spicy quality to it was great when I first started drinking this beer but as I made my way further down to the bottom of the glass, the enjoyment of the spice kind of wore off. It was a really good beer and I would recommend it to people. I've never been a fan of pepper beers but I did really enjoy this one.

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Photo of tigg924
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: moderate-high carbonation, 1/3 inch head, hazy, red-brown in color

Smell: caramel and light pepper

Taste: big caramel, rye, and lots of peppery heat at the end

Mouthfeel: sweet with a great deal of heat, medium-light body, moderate carbonation

Overall: The caramel and rye base of this beer is very tasty. However this is about as hot a beer that I have ever had. The taste is good but may be a bit much for some people and is fairly one note after the initial caramel. This is a quality beer to get every now and again, but I could not imagine myself drinking a full bomber by myself.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks goes out to beeruser for sharing this one at a past Random Sunday Tasting! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured red-orange with a minimal off-white head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, earth, spice, pepper, chipotle, and relish. The flavor was of sweet malt, relish, earth, pickle, pepper, and salt. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a pretty decent brew. Oh great, another pepper spiced beer what could possibly go wrong based on my past experiences? Actually this one actually was quite good and well balanced. The pepper aspect was definitely there, but it did not destroy your palate and stomp it into the mud. There was quite a bit else going on that helped to cut the heat and actually balance out the flavors that were present. A huge surprise since I have always hated life after drinking brews like this in the past. Definitely worth your time trying this one if you are a fan of the style.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.49/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Massachusetts.

A- Clear dark brown body. One and half finger white head with nice retention. Some lacing. Looks really quite non-descript, and certainly does not have any indication of the heat inside the beer.

S- Vegetal pepper nose, with a non-descript heat to it. Some sweet bready pale malt and citrus fruit hop notes. This is the first warning I have that this is going to be real hefty.

F- GOOD GOD THIS IS HOT. HOT. HOT! Vegetal pepper qualities mix in with sweet rye bread that immediately segues into a burning capsaicin sensation complemented by tropical fruits. Wow, this is a spicy beer. It can be unpleasant if you don't like spiciness like my wife does (she loved it), so I found it to be a difficult beer to finish. Still, it's well constructed between the hops, malts and the adjuncts, so I can't dock this too hard just because I don't like overwhelming spiciness.

M- Medium bodied, a bit slick and resinous, slightly lower in carbonation. As above, hot capsaicin burn on the backend complemented by tropical fruits and citrus. Pretty good otherwise.

O- Just not for me, but this is a well constructed and brewed beer that really brings the heat. Despite my below rAvg rating, I do strongly encourage any capsaicin addicts out there to try this beer.

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Photo of papat444
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

***Batch 25, bottled 1-14-14***

Bought directly from the brewery, poured from a 750ml bottle.

Pours a dirty brown muddled body with pretty good retention. Aroma has a nice spicy pepper to it. Flavor though is a let down. Mild black pepper mixed with spicy habanero but not as powerful or forceful as on tap at the brewery.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.45/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Batch 11

Poured from a 750ml into a snifter, the beer is a dark, vibrant, ruby color with a frothy, light, off-white head that starts a robust two inches and rapidly settles into a sparse, filmy coating. Smells a bit like a big quad...Belgian-like yeast characteristics, both fruity and floral, with a touch of pepper at the end. Flavors of mild roasted grain, but only for a split second because that's how long it takes for the sizzling burn to set in on your tongue and mouth. Very subtle to start, but this fire builds. Very good, as it doesn't overpower or sacrifice the flavor for the heat. The more you drink you start to get more Belgian characteristics, with a bit of yeast funk again, as well as some farmhouse spicing. The rye definitely gives a nice roasty and even grain backbone, and that pepper just keeps on coming. By the end of the palate, the pepper adds flavor as well as heat. Spicy, hot aftertaste, with touches of the grain bill once again. Clean and light in mouth, which helps keep things sharp overall. Smooth, clean finish. Interesting brew.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.44/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

$7 for a 12 oz. pour @ Atwoods, Somerville. Atwoods says this is 7.1 % abv.

Dark red with a thin ecru head thats quick to fade. Still, it looks like a glass of Trueblood. Ecru is now in my vocabulary and my reviews thanks to Buckeyenation.

Aroma is a bit sour mash at first. That fades and I get more of a fruitcake English old ale. Not a whole lotta pepper.

Fruity up front with bruised apple an cherry and just as I was wondering where the pepper would come in there's a rye pop and a hot habanero fade. This beer has a lot of action on the back end. Make of that what you will.

I bit thin but I don't like many beers with agave or honey thinned bodies.

I hate small pours but it's appropriate in this case. The heat built up a bit by the time I was done.

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Photo of dar482
3.43/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

The beer comes in a light brownish orange.

The aroma has heavy pepper skin notes, rye and breadiness.

The flavor follows of that fresh green pepper skin note. There's some stone fruit from probably the yeast. There's a dense spicy peppery rye character. The heat is almost nonexistent.

A disappointing brew without much heat and complexity.

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Viva Habanera from Night Shift Brewing
84 out of 100 based on 29 ratings.