New Belgium Shift Pale Lager And The Sustainability Of Cans
A couple of weeks ago, New Belgium released their newest beer, Shift Pale Lager.
Shift Pale Lager tastes like a pale ale would if you fermented it with a lager yeast. The beer is super dry and crisp like a lager, but with more hops than any lager I’ve ever had. The hop presence is primarily very floral, it smells, and tastes, like fresh cut grass. It would definitely pair well with lawn mowing. It has a dry, cracker-like malt flavor with a nice bit of hop bitterness in the finish that lingers a around for a while. This is a very refreshing beer. Definitely perfect for the hot, sunny days here in Vegas.
New Belgium will be providing Shift Pale Lager year round, much like Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, 1554, and others. However, while those beers are available on draft, bottles, and cans (in the case of Fat Tire and Ranger IPA), Shift, on the other hand, will only be available in 16 oz cans. No bottles, no draft, only cans. But why cans? New Belgium is really pushing the idea of Shift being THE beer to reach for after your work shift (get it?). All the advertising and marketing depicts this being a beer that is enjoyed while working on the car, sitting by the pool, out at the park, basically the kinds of things people do to unwind. To that end, it is only available in cans simply because it is the cheapest way to make the beer as accessible as possible for every possible scenario. What I mean by that is, you can take a can anywhere! Usually public pools, parks, beaches, etc, do not allow glass. By only allowing consumers to purchase this in a can, they are allowing those who purchase it the freedom to take it anywhere they want to enjoy a beer.
It seems these days that most of the breweries jumping on the can bandwagon tout how eco-friendly cans are compared to glass, since they weigh less and are supposedly more recyclable. The week of Shift’s official launch, another well known brewery was tweeting out all the different ways that mining for bauxite, and the process to convert it into aluminum, is very harmful to the planet, and has caused toxic damages to the countries where it is mined. New Belgium went ahead and gave an honest answer to the sustainability of cans here. What they wrote matches my own personal research: There has been no comprehensive, UN-BIASED study comparing cans vs glass, and which is more sustainable. The fact is, can’s harmful mining requirements probably equal out to the increased fuel consumption that glass requires. Basically, it’s a wash. Neither are truly sustainable. If you care about sustainability, the only way to make either one more sustainable, is to recycle.
The main point here though is that Shift is a great beer and is the perfect solution to nearly every occasion. Canning this beer was a smart move in that it is a very accessible beer for nearly every environment. Is it better for the environment than glass? Who knows, but at least you can bring it to the pool, or take it hiking. Because let’s be honest, that’s all we really want, right?