Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Shift Pale Lager | New Belgium Brewing

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
243 Reviews
Shift Pale LagerShift Pale Lager

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Colorado, United States

Style: American Pale Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jason on 03-14-2012

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 243 | Ratings: 1,372
Photo of blakelive784
2.64/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

16 fl oz can served in a generic pint glass, reviewed from notes:

A - Presents a pale transparent golden color with a thin rocky head of one finger. Retention is average at best. Standard and generic.

S - Clean mild barley and light malt character with fresh grassy hops. Simple, clean, mild and pretty inviting.

T - The hopping is much more aggressive than I though it would be based on the aroma. The clean mild barley body doesn't stand a chance. The hops are certainly fresh, but they're imbalanced and simple.

M - Thin, light bodied and over carbonated.

D - Light and easy drinking. I applaud the attempt at the style though I think it's poorly executed, simple and imbalanced.

 691 characters

Photo of steveh
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally found this on shelves locally and based on a recent, lively discussion about US and German lagers, thought I'd give it a try. $9 for a 4 pack of 16 oz. cans.

A -- Pours a clear, deep gold (deeper in color than any other American Pale Lager I've ever seen) with a dense, white head that holds up well.

S -- Lightly citrus and mildly piny nose. More Pale Ale in character than Pale Lager. I'll give it points for being appetizing, but knock some off for style.

T -- Somewhat resiny, mildly bitter hops, not as overpowering as this hop mix could be. Light graininess fighting valiantly against the hop character. Dry, resiny bitter finish and aftertaste. Not really lager-like, so I'm scoring as I did aroma.

M -- Mouthfeel is crisp and dry with a light-medium body.

O -- Not what I'd expect in picking up a beer labeled "Pale Lager," but it doesn't turn me off either. If I didn't have some true Pale Lager waiting in the wings, I might have been disappointed, but the refreshing flavor and body of this new beer makes for a good first drink of the afternoon.

 1,070 characters

Photo of Kegatron
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16 oz can into a pint glass.

Pours a clear golden copper, with a couple fingers of white head that has a bit of an off look to it. This retains with a thin creaminess that drenches the sides of the glass with a ton of sticky lacing. Nice look. The aroma smells fresh, grassy, and dank, with a smack of tart lemon in the nose and then some more green bitter notes. A tight grainy sweetness and a touch of eggy smelling protein sit along the back.

The taste is leafy and herbal in the mouth, with a crisp citric bitterness and that same smack of lemon that I picked up in the aroma. This melds into that tight sweet graininess of the Pils malts, which do a nice job of propping those hops up. The finish is dry and pithy with some lingering dankness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and sharp on the tongue which works itself into more of a smooth creaminess as this moves out in the mouth. An oily slickness from the hops really keeps this easy feeling.

This was a borderline IPL at times with those American hops really adding a lot of character to this. Maybe a bit too much though, as this got REALLY herbal feeling as things warmed up. I recommend having at this one while it’s still fairly cold, as it’s got quite a flavorful and crisp hop bite before things start loosening up. It’s nice to see New Belgium going with the tall boys now.

 1,352 characters

Photo of kojevergas
2.55/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

500 ml can served into N'Ice Chouffe stemware in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average; I've historically been underwhelmed by this brewery but I tried La Folie last night and it blew me away.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 2.5 finger head of nice fluffy cream, decent thickness, beige colour, and standard retention for the mere 5% ABV. Colour is a transparent yellow. Standard fare for the style, but generally appealing.

Sm: Full pleasant barley and some fresh floral hops. An average quality moderate strength aroma. I'm looking forward to trying it.

T: Barley with fresh floral hops. Simple and somewhat bland, but fairly enjoyable. Not subtle or layered. Pretty boring. There's very little to say about it.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with some cream. Far too wet and thin. Weak. Doesn't quite support the flavour profile, minimal as it is.

Dr: A boring bland beer from New Belgium that I won't be getting again. Might make a decent beer pong beer; it's pretty drinkable if overcarbonated. Priced alright.

Low C-

 1,212 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best by 9/9/12.

Pours a clear orange with a 2 inch foamy orange-white head that settles to a thin cap on top of the beer. Foamy patches of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of metal, grain, and some herbal hop aromas. Taste is of tangy malt and some herbal hop flavors. There is a mild bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good lager but I was expecting a crisper level of carbonation.

 513 characters

Photo of Fatehunter
3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Finger of head on a clear and golden body. Good lacing as the drink goes down.

Its aroma is faint; metallic and grain smell.

Tastes malty (for a lager) and then suddenly big splash of bitterness. One, two flavor profile.

Smooth and crisp texture, low carbonation and light body.

Tasty and drinkable for a long night or day.

 355 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BBD of 24 Jun 2012

Pours a super-effervescent gold/bronze color with 4 fingers of fluffed up pearl colored head. Great lacing & above average head retention

S: Serious bready notes, grassyness & lemons as well

T: Grassyness, faint lemon rind, crackery notes along with some bready sweetness. Some mineral & soapy hoppyness as this warms along with more grassyness & some grainyness. Finishes grassy, citrussy & fairly crisp

MF: Medium bodied, crisp carbonation, alright balance

I'm sure a few of these will go down great out on the lake or chilling this summer; but this is a little too stripped down for me, give more hops & or malt please. I doubt this will even make my summer canned beer rotation this year...

 718 characters

Photo of donmonkey1
3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Really nice golden color with a nice white frothy head and great lacing. The carbonation was excellent and inviting.

Smell: 80 wt gear oil with the smallest touch of floral hop.

Taste: Oily with a really nice, moderate, floral hop taste.

I like this beer a lot, and I love the hops, but I sure feel like I'm drinking a beer with a couple drops of car oil in the glass.

 384 characters

Photo of rfbenavi80
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First craft can. Excited about this one.

Agressive pour straight down into a pilsner glass.

A- Pours a very nice clear gold, with lots of frothy, foamy, white head that leaves a thick cap on top of the beer and thick lacing.

S- Some earthy hops. Plenty of sweet malts. Some bread dough, and biscuity.

T- Hoppier than I expected, but the bitterness is moderate. Sweet caramel malts comes out.

M- Medium body, thicker than I expected.

O- Highly drinkable. Bonus points for the whole craft can thing. Very refreshing. I like their slogan about finishing a shift at work and popping one of these open.

 608 characters

Photo of lstokes
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright clear gold with a pleasant three fingers of foam and good lacing. Also, it comes in a can, so more appearance points there!

Smell is clean biscuit, taste has some real character--some spice, some tart apple, dried grass, a crisp finish with a punch of hop. Very drinkable, clean lager which is actually quite enjoyable to drink *during* work.

 350 characters

Photo of rangerred
3.46/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz can into a pint glass.

Pours a slightly hazy light gold with a thick one finger head. Plenty of lacing clings to the sides of the glass.

Smell has some cooked vegetables along with some biscuit and grassy hops.

Some caramel and biscuit on the taste along with a little bit of yeast. Grassy hops contribute a nice flavor along with a light to moderate bitterness to balance out the malt. Mouthfeel has enough body to make it interesting but it is still quite refreshing.

There isn't a ton going on with this brew but it would be great for sessioning. This could potentially be a good gateway beer from BMC.

 615 characters

Photo of hopfacebrew
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Heard good things about this, poured from can to pilsner glass the beer arrives a translucent orange copper yellow with a nice 2 finger white head, good retention, and good lacing. The nose is a little light but not bad, consisting of a light floral earthy hop and a touch of caramel. The flavor improves on the nose with a light but pleasant hop earthy flavor and mild bitterness, hints of caramel sweetness and light pilsen malt. Finishes crisp and clean. Light bodied and well carbonated. Overall, good. This will be enjoyed more and more as the temperature heats up!

 570 characters

Photo of nimrod979
3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz tall boy poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Perfectly clear straw yellow. Two finger white head fades to a small film. Hint of lacing where the head sat but nothing sticks as you drink it.

Aroma is hay and grassy hops. Biscuity and Pilsener type malts.

Taste - You get that same pilsener and biscuit malt flavor. Has that "signature" New Belgium malt profile I detect in many of their beers. Mild grassy hops.

Clean and very drinkable. Moderate carbonation. Finishes quick with mild hop bitterness. A little on the lighter side of medium bodied.

All in all, it's not all that bad. Very sessionable. And for it's style, it's something I'd reach for on a hot day if it were lying around.

 699 characters

Photo of tone77
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a rich golden color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of malts, lemons, some sweetness. Taste is crisp, tart, citrus, some hops, more pale ale like than lager. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is an easy drinking and enjoyable beer.

 271 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, golden orange color with a two-finger, egg-shell white head of bubbly foam. It left sticky patches of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled floral and grassy with some sweet caramel.

T - It tasted spicy and hoppy with a nice bitterness. Sweet caramel and grains add backbone.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied lager with a dry, clean finish.

O - This is a pretty tasty lager. I'm impressed. I could see people taking this good canned beer on camping trips, etc.

 503 characters

Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a can to a pilsner glass. Had a golden yellow color and a clear texture. There was an inch of creamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: Hoppier than I expected, with a definite grain presence to be had.

T: Tasted of light hops, malt, a little citrus (lemon), and some grain in the finish. A light, refreshing flavor that seems more like a pilsner than anything else (not bad thing in this case).

M: A good amount carbonation with a smooth, lively finish. Light-bodied.

O: The American Pale Lager style doesn't lend itself to complexity, and this beer won't win any prizes for that. However, it's an easy to drinkable likeable beer.

 659 characters

Photo of bsp77
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from can into Frankfurter mug.

Appearance: Rich golden color with nice sized head at first, and some light lacing.

Smell: Light hay, grains, citrus and spice. Needs a little more oomph in the aroma department, but still nice.

Taste: Hay and apple form the backbone, with a nice hoppy counterbalance of citrus and a light spiciness. Despite the hops, there is virtually no bitterness; just balanced flavors.

Feel: Medium body with moderate carbonation. Crisp, clean and smooth with a dry finish.

Overall: This is essentially a Helles but with New World hops. Surprisingly, I enjoy this almost as much as Surly Hell. I also think that other than the Lips of Faith series, this is the best standard New Belgium beer along with Belgo. Very happly surprised by this.

 788 characters

Photo of chugalug06
3.09/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Huge white foamy head come from this typically styled NB CAN. Decent outer ring of bubbles surround the foam. Brew is crystal clear orange-yellow. Looks like pretty low carbonation, very little bubbling. Nice lacing, good job NB.

Not too much scent, typical NB; not aggressive. Smells like a Bud Light, wheres the craft? Seriously, are there any Hops in here? Smells like: corn, slight chile, white pepper, biscuts, and bread.

Well carbonated. Very light and session-able. Not too much to report on flavor other then it greatly reminds me of BMC... Tastes a bit like a farm would (corn). Bread-y and biscuit-y.

I think it's safe to say NB came out flat on this over-hyped brew. If they tried to brew a Bud Light clone using a slightly different recipe, well, they succeeded. There is zero complexity to this brew. This brew never quite shifted my gear to become recommendable. It's far from craft and closer to Macro, drinks great from a can and very poor from a glass. Give ME an Avery Joe's!

 998 characters

Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - clear, see-through, gold with a mountain of dense, white, foamy head with great retention

S - light, bready malt; herbal, spicy; great hop character

T - toasted malts, faint bread, herbal hops, a hint of onions, little lager yeast, a slight spicy hop finish

M - light bodied, smooth, crisp, well carbonated

This is a really solid pale lager. It has a great hop character and great balance and flavor for the style. This would be a great trade off for the usual BMC drinker.

 481 characters

Photo of isualum12
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

LOVE the can. Looks so cool. Love the little saying on the rim. Extra cool.
Look clear with lots of activity and a lacy head. Golden clear.
Smell skunk kinda gross
Taste hops but not overpowering. Just the right amount of hops if your not a hop head but like it every now and the. (me)
Feel high co2
Overal nice beer. It will stay in the mix.


 353 characters

Photo of Domingo
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

NB’s second major lager offering is a pale lager (no traditional styles here) in a 16oz can.
Straw golden – nice head and retention, too.
Hops hit the nose first. Not really traditional noble hops either. Slightly citric and earthy hops. I know this is using Nelson Sauvin as well as some continental and UK variety hops in a blend, so you get a little of each. I’d say the NS’s might be the strongest note as they’re a little bit orange-peel like. The malt note is there, but it’s mild and more of a support player.
The flavor continues with that theme. A little bit of breadiness on the front of the palate and hops on the back end. It’s definitely not a hell or pils, but is charting a unique path. The NS hops give it just a little bit of lemony flavor, although there’s a tiny hint of onions I get from certain hops. There’s no DMS or diacetyl, but there’s also a very subdued malt note. I wish it had a little more body as right now it seems to be more of a supporting element for those hops.
Not bad, and probably a beer that macro fans would appreciate. It actually reminds me a tiny bit of an “Imperial PBR” although obviously hoppier.

My personal bias is that I’d rather see someone make a good “American helles” instead of all of these hop-forward lagers featuring unusual hopping. To me this is an ale brewer making a lager and as a result you get similar strengths and weaknesses. Hop heads might like this, but I wonder if it’s enough to satisfy them either. It’s an odd one, but who knows – maybe this could be a huge conversion beer?

 1,586 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the can into a Pokal style glass.

A real nice brass gold, yellow to orange edges and crystal clear. Hits with a nice foamy white top and some faint lacing while drinking. Nice rising bubbles, quite good looking here.

Nose is a biscuity malt, faint sort of lemon and sour grass hop. Strange yeasty quality to this also. Somewhere between earthy and grassy hop quality, which seems fine.

Taste is interesting. Lots of white baked flour, with a strange hop finish no doubt to Nelson Sauv?. Sticky yeast quality and a faint light astringency mixing with the malts on the aftertaste. Dense but clean, somewhere in between. Not too carbonated either.

Overall, beer does what it says, but it reminds me of eating white cake flour at times with a yeasty bent. But I am usually not a fan of New Belgium, but this is a pretty easy going and enjoyable brew.

 862 characters

Photo of oberon
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pilsner a clear medium golden with a a thinner white head that didi leave a few broken rings of lace as it settled.Caramel sweetness,lightly toasted grain,and a decent shot of herbal hops in the back end.Caramel induced sweetness upfront on the palate with mild grainy notes,and again a shot of herbal/leafy hops in the finish.It's not a clean lager it's actually a little sweet but the hop profile is nice,above average but not great.

 449 characters

Photo of harrymel
3.01/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Best by: 19SEP12
Pours light amber, lots of white billowed foam. Earthy hops and reserved, amber malts. Nice nose for a session IMO. Some corn pops up front, some malts, and some hints of wood. Meh. Thin bodied and hi carb, as expected. Has a semi dry finish. I would say this is great for 80 degree weather honestly, not that bad, but not that great. Slightly sweet.

 367 characters

Photo of alk3kenny
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance is a slightly dark golden color awesome some grassy notes cereal some hops... Initial tasting slight bitterness not much sweetness can taste some hops and grain carbonation bubbles on the tongue very easily drinkable could put back the whole 4 pk of pints on a hot day off for sure. mouthfeel is light crispy pleasant.

 329 characters

Shift Pale Lager from New Belgium Brewing
3.66 out of 5 based on 1,372 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!