Style: Belgian Pale Ale
There are many breweries I watch from afar, my curiosity piqued by glimpses over the internet, by clever recipes and personality-driven packaging. It's a cruel world we live in, with so many interesting brewers producing beer all over the world that can't possibly make it to everyone's doorstep. Fortunately, a recent roadtrip gave me the opportunity to stop by Night Shift, in Everett Massachusetts. Located in an industrial park, near a gigantic wind turbine, it's an unlikely spot for a small-scale rustic farmhouse brewery run by three homebrewers-gone-pro. And yet they're doing it — living the dream, and dreaming up beers to match.
Trifecta, their Belgian pale ale fermented with three Belgian yeast strains and aged on vanilla beans, pours dark amber with a dense, creamy head and great lacing. The aroma reads as very quintessentially "Belgian"... maybe just a little bit because of those three strains working in tandem. The bottle describes the trio of yeasts as earthy, fruity and spicy, and they clearly add up to a unified, complimentary whole. The flavor profile is dense with spice, bright citrus, sweet malt, clove and banana. It's a very balanced showing of Belgian flavors. The flavor is smooth and well-rounded, again showing exceptional balance between the yeast, the brighter fruity hops, and the sweet malt that blends into a creamy vanilla character.
Trifecta is perhaps a bit heavier than your average Belgian ale, and the malts are given an added suggestion of sweetness due to the unusual, but pleasant decision to add vanilla bean to the brew. The vanilla provides a counterbalance to the clove and bubblegum from the yeast, and the zingy lemon citrus character of the hops. It smooths everything out, gives an enhanced perception of depth to the malt base, and creates a finish that sticks the perfect sweet note and exits on a satiny mouthfeel. All this, and yet flavor-wise, I wouldn't say the vanilla is the focus of the beer; it never steals the spotlight from any other ingredient. That's how adjuncts should be used.
While the Trifecta of the name applies to the three years strains used, it certainly captures the interplay of brewing elements here, and the equilibrium between them. This is one of the more balanced and quaffable Belgian pale ales I've had, with a unique American twist that sets it apart from a pretty crowded pack.
Availability: Year round. 750 ml bottle.