New Belgium Shift Pale Lager

by Jacob

If you read some of other reviews here on, you know that I am big fan of canned craft beer. When New Belgium Brewing, which already cans Fat Tire and some other variety in 12 oz packages, announced the creation of a new canned beer, I went out to find it immediately.  Why? Because I also like New Belgium’s brews. (See here.)

Shift Pale Lager is sold only in 4-packs of 16-ounce cans (approximately $9.99 in the Washington, D.C. area).

Shift pours a bright golden color in the glass and smells of citrus (orange peel and lemon).  It is a smooth beer with light hops and a mild hoppy spice finish.  The beer finishes with mild spice from the hops and weighs in at 5% alcohol, perfect for a warm summer day.  (Rating ****)


Great Divide Brewing Company Rumble IPA

by Jacob

IPAs, especially West Coast IPAs, have been all the rage in the craft beer community. Because of the popularity, many breweries are looking for ways to make one (or more) of their IPAs stand out in an increasingly crowded field. Recently, I found an IPA that is different, both in how it was made and in how it tastes.

Great Divide Brewing Company’s Rumble IPA is a unique IPA that has the traditional hop flavors, but with a twist. Rumble is barrel aged.  No, you didn’t read that wrong.  Great Divide has taken a traditional IPA and aged it in French and American oak barrels.  As a result, Rumble IPA (7.1%) is a complex beer with a blend of citrus and grain flavors associated with hops and the vanilla, caramel, and wood notes associated with barrel aging. (Rating ****)
You may read more about Rumble IPA and other Great Divide brews at:

New Belgium Brewing Snow Day Winter Ale

Some winter brews are a bit over the top for us—they pack just WAY too much spice for our plaates.  Not so, New Belgium Snow Day Winter Ale.  This brew has a lovely bouquet and is delicious in the mouth.  When we saw it served at a holiday party, people—even non-beer snobs—really took to it. It is well worth the $8 we paid for a six-pack. (Rating ***1/4)  Read more at:


Assorted Oktoberfest Beers

by Jacob

With the weather and leaves beginning to change in the mid-Atlantic after more than 50 days of 90 degree heat this summer, it is time to turn our attention to fall beverages.  One of my favorite are Oktoberfest beers.

The first Oktoberfest beer I ever had was from Sam Adams Octoberfest.  While it still one of my favorites for its rich color and fall inspiring notes, other fall seasonal beers have grabbed my attention in the last few years.  These include Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale (Pumpkin Pie in a bottle, without the sugar) and New Belgium Brewery’s Hoptoberfest (a Hoptastic dark amber beer).  While these beers are excellent, they are either expensive ($8.99 for a four pack of Dogfish Head) or impossible to get on the East Coast (New Belgium).

For this year, I have acquired a sample of some mass produced and specialty Oktoberfest offerings.  I bought all of these (excpet the Shiner) at Gilly’s Craft Beer and Fine Wine in Rockville, MD.  Each were between $2 and $3 per bottle (sold as singles) and are available in 4 or 6 packs for between $5.99 and $12.99.

These Oktoberfest beers can be roughly divided into two categories: Marzen and Pumpkin Ales.  Marzen are traditional Oktoberfest beers and are sometimes called Oktoberfestbier.  Pumpkin Ales are pumpkin based.

Here are are a few Oktoberfest beers for 2010.

Flying Dog – Dogtoberfest Marzen: Cooper colored with a sweet, yet malty bite.  Light on hops, the beer is a bit heavy as if it were a full bodied beer (5.6% alcohol).  Rating ****)

Spoetzl Brewery – Shiner Oktoberfest: Dark cooper color with a malty start and a hoppy finish. Well balanced and drinkable alone and with food (5.7% alcohol).  (Rating ****1/2)

Leinenkugel – Oktoberfest: A clear cooper color with significant effervescence.  Light on hops and malt create a easy drinking beer with a light caramel finish (5.1% alcohol).  (Rating ***1/2)

Post Road Pumpkin Ale (Brooklyn Brewery): A cloudy cooper color in the glass. Scents of spice on the nose with a bite of spice (clove, coriander) and slight pumpkin flavors.  I expected more pumpkin pie to come through in the glass, but it is a very mild flavor (5.6% alcohol).  (Rating ***)

Southern Tier Brewing Company – Harvest Ale: Brewed with four types of hops, this beer is quite hoppy and high in alcohol (6.7%) than many other Oktoberfest or harvest beers.  Almost a red color in the glass, it does not have the characteristic traits of fall beers (pumpkin, clove, and cinnamon spices, among others).  The hops dominate; it is not your typical fall beer. (Rating ***1/2)


New Belgium Brewing Company


by Jacob

Colorado may be the microbrewery and craft-brewery capitol of the United States. On a recent trip to Denver, I had the fortune of tasting beers from several breweries that, living in the Washington, DC area, I had never heard of before. These included Great Divide Brewing Company, Oskar Blues (try the Dale’s Pale Ale, hoppy goodness), and the Odelle Brewery Company. While all these beers were good, the highlight of the trip was a visit to the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins.

I also had the pleasure of visiting and taking a tour of the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, CO. For people east of the Mississippi River, you might not be familiar with this brewery. I was introduced to them on trips to the West Coast through their Fat Tire Amber. Fat Tire is an excellent mild amber colored beer that is a good representation of what the brewery makes. It is, however, not the best beer they have. In no particular order, here are the New Belgium beers I was able to try and my impression of each.

1554 – This is not your typical dark beer. While many dark beers can be bitter, 1554 is very smooth with a light chocolaty flavor.  It matches well with beef and other game.

Sunshine Wheat – Wheat beers are very popular these days. New Belgium’s is a crisp, orange scented wheat beer that is not nearly as heavy as it competition. Easy to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Skinny Dip – The summer seasonal is has similar elements to wheat beers (citrus notes) but is lighter and perfect for a hot summer day. Not as hoppy as some of their other beers, this is a great complement to chicken or fish or it can easily be enjoyed alone.

Hoptober – If you love hops, this beer is for you. The fall seasonal beer is bright, hoppy and invokes a German beer garden and fall weather.

In addition to their regular and seasonal beers, New Belgium also makes small batch beers called “Lips of Faith.” Not always widely available, these beers are a special find if you happen upon a bar or liquor store that carries them. One I recommend is the Belgo IPA.  It is a very hoppy beer that has some citrus notes with the traditional IPA flavors.

If you have a chance to visit the brewery or to try these or other beers made by New Belgium, I strongly recommend it.  (Rating *****)