Friday, May 18, 2012

Shift Pale Lager - New Belgium Brewing

Tonight, Shift Pale Lager from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO.  Some of you who know me will already be aware that I lived within a mile of New Belgium Brewery for the better part of 5 years.  During that time I spent many afternoons at the brew house enjoying what was then a free sample tray of all their beers.  While I lived in Fort Collins, the brewery tasting went from the full flight down to a choice of four, until last year when they finally started charging for a sample tray.  Not that I am complaining about it since charging for tasters is the new thing and New Belgium Brewing has evolved into a tourist destination.

 New Belgium now has 27 different beers, but Fat Tire is probably their best-known and most popular beer, providing the much-needed revenue for Master Brewer Peter Bouckaert to delve into his Belgian roots and develop a lineup of beers that are outside of the traditionally defined styles.  Shift is a noticeably less creative beer than the beers in their Lips of Faith series, but it is definitely poised to rescue more Americans from the big two, Miller-Coors and Anheuser-Busch.  I do not usually drink Pale Lagers, but at the urging of my friend Russ over at Colorado Beer Adventures, I decided to give it a go.  After all, the can does say, “When your work is done, you’ll want one”.  While Peter Bouckaert is infamous in his disdain of style classifications, I am going to go out on a limb and call this a Premium American Lager, BJCP Style 1C.  Check the bottom of this post for the official Premium American Lager guidelines.

On Beeradvocate, Shift Pale Ale has an 83 overall with an 88 from the bros.  At Ratebeer it has a 76 overall, 98 for style. 

They say:

New Belgium employee-owners work in shifts to brew to life world-class beers. Those efforts are rewarded daily with a shared end-of-shift beer. We’re passing that welcomed occasion onto consumers in this lightly-hopped Shift Pale Lager. From work to play, from bottle to can, from bold and heavy to refreshing and sessionable; Shift salutes the shift in occasion, package and beer. So, go ahead and get your Shift beer, you’ve earned it!
Just the facts Ma'am...

ABV -5.0
IBU -29
Calories -210 per 16 Ounce Serving
Hops -Target, Nelson Sauvin, Liberty, Cascade
Malts - Pale, Munich, C-80
OG -14.3
TG -2.3

I say:

Shift pours a nice straw/light gold in color with a very nice fine white head with great retention.  The aroma has a medium pale malt character, with interesting tangerine and banana notes.  The flavor is very earthy and grainy with noticeable hop bitterness.  It is medium bodied with a moderately high level of carbonation and finishes dry and bitter.  Cold out of the fridge it is an extremely drinkable beer, but watch out as it warms to room temperature.  Better yet, just finish it while it is still cold.

This is an interesting beer, but I am definitely not a Premium American Lager drinker, tending towards more flavor and aroma in my beers.  However, a majority of Americans are perfectly happy with their light lagers, and lawnmower beers.  So, if Shift can capture the interest of even a small percentage of the mass-market drinkers and get them to start contemplating craft beers then I am all for it.  I guess I see Shift as an entry-level craft beer, after all the Bud and Miller-Coors masses have to start somewhere, right?

                That’s all for tonight, check back on Monday for a write-up on Secret Stache Stout from Finch’s Beer Co.

Aroma: Low to medium-low malt aroma, which can be grainy, sweet or corn-like. Hop aroma may range from very low to a medium-low, spicy or floral hop presence. Low levels of yeast character (green apples, DMS, or fruitiness) are optional but acceptable. No diacetyl.
Appearance: Pale straw to gold color. White, frothy head may not be long lasting. Very clear.
Flavor: Crisp and dry flavor with some low levels of grainy or malty sweetness. Hop flavor ranges from none to low levels. Hop bitterness at low to medium level. Balance may vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter, but is relatively close to even. High levels of carbonation may provide a slight acidity or dry "sting." No diacetyl. No fruitiness.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light body from use of adjuncts such as rice or corn. Highly carbonated with slight carbonic bite on the tongue.
Overall Impression: Refreshing and thirst quenching, although generally more filling than standard/lite versions.
Comments: Premium beers tend to have fewer adjuncts than standard/lite lagers, and can be all-malt. Strong flavors are a fault, but premium lagers have more flavor than standard/lite lagers. A broad category of international mass-market lagers ranging from up-scale American lagers to the typical "import" or "green bottle" international beers found in America.
Ingredients: Two- or six-row barley with up to 25% rice or corn as adjuncts.
Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.046 – 1.056
IBUs: 15 – 25
FG: 1.008 – 1.012
SRM: 2 – 6
ABV: 4.6 – 6%
Commercial Examples: Full Sail Session Premium Lager, Miller Genuine Draft, Corona Extra, Michelob, Coors Extra Gold, Birra Moretti, Heineken, Beck's, Stella Artois, Red Stripe, Singha

1 comment:

  1. I thought Shift was a unique and well done addition to the New Belgium Lineup. While I am not a fan of a lot of their mainstream beers Shift was well done. It was unique and balanced enough for seasoned craft beer drinkers while providing a gentle introduction to craft beers for Bud and Coors drinkers.