Showing posts with label new belgium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new belgium. Show all posts

Monday, July 9, 2012

Drinking a Shiftload

Friday afternoon was a case of finish work, swing by the old apartment to pick up some bits and pieces in preparation for having satellite internet installed and then a quick jaunt to the store to buy ingredients for baking as Mrs V had the urge to make cupcakes.

As is my habit I went straight for the beer aisle, which is reasonable in the Giant we shop in, and will continue to shop in as it is on the way home. Their selection is pretty diverse, serveral Samuel Adams' products, a couple of Sierra Nevada, plenty of Starr Hill, nothing that would have the hardened hophead racing over, but plenty for those of us who like to drink good beer whilst avoiding the de riguer tongue rape of whatever colour and multiple of IPA we are on these days. Nestled in amongst the selection are a few brands from New Belgium, the ubiquitous Fat Tire, Ranger IPA and as a four pack of cans, Shift Pale Lager. The choice was easy.

Lager, as I am sure you well know, is my thing. I love lager, I think the best brewers are the ones that make tasty lager, and thankfully in this neck of the woods we have 3 brewers of very fine lagers. I knew what I was getting into with Shift because on the day we closed the contract for the house, Mrs V, myself and Mrs V's running partner went out aboozing to celebrate, and the bar we went to had Shift in cans, so I had a few.

One of the things I liked straight off the bat with Shift was that New Belgium weren't trying to pass it off as a Pilsner, but I also liked the firm hop bitterness which subtley avoids being harsh and reminded me of the best Pilsners. You realise by that by "best" I mean "Czech"? Of course you do, you are a suave, sophiscated, worldly person, whatever was I thinking? The hops in question are Target, Nelson Sauvin, Liberty and Cascade, and they work wonderfully well together.

According to the marketing waffle on the packaging, which was cardboard rather than those duck strangling plastic things, Shift is the beer the guys at New Belgium drink when they come to the end of their alloted hours of employment. While I wouldn't call it a session beer, at 5% it is just a touch outside the boundaries for that, it is definitely a beer you can sit and have a few of. Just an aside, when I say "session" I am thinking of having at least 6 imperial pints, 3 pints is popularly known as "lunch".

I can see Shift becoming something of a regular in the fridge, especially for unwinding from a week of work on a Friday evening, preferably when it isn't hotter than Satan's horns outside and we can sit on the deck without developing a case of sympathy with the pains of the fried egg.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stifling the South

I want to preface my post today with a clarification, basically so I don't have to explain myself later if people get the wrong end of the stick. I like the beers of Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and New Belgium.

With that out of the way, let me continue. If I were in the planning stages of starting a brewery over here on the East Coast of the USA, especially in North Carolina, but also Virginia and South Carolina, I would be worrying right now. I would be worrying because all three of the aforementioned businesses are planning to build breweries in North Carolina, all of them clustered in the Asheville area.

On one hand it is excellent news, it will create jobs, which will spur local economies as workers spend their money, so from a economic point of view this development is very welcome. A further benefit that has been mentioned is their beers on the East Coast will be fresher and of a higher quality, personally I am a little dubious on this, but there we go. Certainly they will be cheaper to distribute, but I very much doubt the consumer will benefit from that in any way shape or form, just as the consumer doesn't benefit from the transportation savings of using cans instead of bottles.

My concern then is that these expansionary moves will stifle the local craft brewing industries and that market share which previously supported much smaller operations will be lost to the bigger company. Of course, the economist will say that this is simply the invisible hand of the market, but I have an aversion to invisible hands grabbing small companies by the neck and squeezing the life out of them. Naturally there is the argument that having these big businesses on their doorstep should encourage the smaller local breweries to up their game so they can compete with the big boys, but the question remains will they have the resources to do so?

I can't help but think that this is the first stage in the consolidation of the craft brewing industry, where the bigger companies start to force their way into markets by opening brewing facilities in various parts of the country. While we will see more and more Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues beers in the supermarket aisles, we will see fewer local brews except at specialty outlets like Beer Run here in Charlottesville.

As I commented on my Twitter feed the other day these expansions are really no different from AB InBev buying up facilities to brew Budweiser in around the world, it's just that the beer is a bit better.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...