The infamous shift beer. The cold one we raise to celebrate a hard day’s work or to wallow in after a nasty row with our boss.
When I was a beer server, my shift beer was always the strongest beer on draught – not because I was trying to abuse the system, but because I wanted something to knock me out so I could sleep when I got home. When I was an Uptown office dweller, my choice was much different. I’d always order something light and refreshing, like a pilsner, as I knew I planned to enjoy a few.
But what about the people who brew our well-earned after-work beer? What do they sip on when the brew day is over and they kick back with co-workers on the brewery loading dock?
I asked brewers from some of Charlotte’s favorite breweries for their shift beer of choice. The answers ran the gamut from whatever was new for quality control reasons to low-fill cans, bourbon and – gasp – Busch. For most, though, the answer was something light and refreshing, like my previously mentioned pilsner.
Triple C Brewing – Scott Kimball
“My current go-to shift beer is Crane City Session IPA. It’s packed full of pungent tropical fruit aromas from heavy doses of some of my favorite hops – Idaho 7, Simcoe and Ekuanot. Oats and wheat provide an easy drinking, smooth body, helping to make this beer refreshingly dank with a session-able ABV of 5 percent. Tastes great from a Crowler, if I’m enjoying my shift beer outside catching some sun.”
Heist Brewery – Eric Mitchell
“More often than not, it’s probably a beer that we’ve canned in the last few weeks. Low fills don’t drink themselves, and they need loving too. If not one of our cans, we’re lucky to have a lot of breweries drop beer off, and we try to explore offerings from some of our favorite breweries.”
Resident Culture Brewing – Chris Tropeano
“I’m all about a nice, clean pilsner. It’s soft on the palate, refreshing and crisp. Best of all, I can drink a lot of them. While we change our beers every few weeks, I aim to always have one on the tap list, especially as the warmer months come in.”
Salud Cerveceria – Dustin DiLorenzo
“I have been really enjoying Founders Solid Gold Premium Lager. It’s a beer that isn’t too loud or expressive. Just a simple lager. Or, I’ll crack a cold Busch.”
Wooden Robot Brewery – Dan Wade
“Every week we release two new beers in our taproom, so I typically enjoy drinking what’s fresh on the line up for that week. We’re constantly experimenting with ingredients and expressive yeast strains to create innovative styles for our menu, so I love to drink what’s new. Recently, I’ve found myself craving our crisp and refreshing Mexican lager, Robotico, after a long day of brewing.”
Unknown Brewing – Brad Shell
“Bourbon is my shift beer. Tastes great, less filling and goes well with our craft ginger ale.”
Divine Barrel Brewing – Ben Dolphens
“At Divine Barrel, my two current favorites are The Feelin’ I Forgot (West Coast Style IPA) and our foeder fermented brett saison, Brettrospective. What I’m in the mood for bounces around quite a bit though, so tomorrow it’s just as likely to be something like our Petite Saison. When not at the brewery, I’ll usually head down to Salud and look for the latest, crushable pilsner.”
NoDa Brewing – Chad Henderson
“I usually sample something that’s new to see how it came out since we release new brews so frequently. About half the time, I’ll grab one of those, an IPA variant we have on tap or a blend of one (IPA variant) with Hop, Drop ‘N’ Roll with different ratios… the bartenders love that, haha.”
Bold Missy Brewery – Carli Smith
“Solo Flight Brown Ale or the Surf Star West Coast IPA, depending on my mood. Brown if I’m in the mood for something a little more chill and malty or the West Coast if I’m in a hoppy mood. Both are easy to drink and refreshing after a long day of brewing.”
Sugar Creek Brewing – Joe Vogelbacher
“My favorite beer after work is the Sugar Creek Pale Ale. It’s incredibly refreshing after a long day, and we always have it fresh in our taproom.”
Free Range Brewing – Jason Alexander
“My go-to after work beer is Cream of the Crop, our Carolina Cream Ale. Cream of the Crop is our one and only house staple – the only beer that never leaves the Free Range menu. Crisp and oh-so-easy drinking, this is our anytime, anywhere, anyone beer. An ale, masquerading as a lager, whose subtle nature hides the complexities that come together to make it so refreshingly easy. And when there’s no Cream of The Crop, there’s always bourbon!”
Photos: Graham Dennis, Scotty Kent, Resident Culture Brewing, Benji Witcher, Wooden Robot Brewery, Unknown Brewing, Gavin Toth, Justin Driscoll Photography, Bold Missy Brewery, Kyo H Nam, Remy Thurston, Charlotte Observer file