I remember drinking my first Fat Tire. It was some time in the late 90s, before I was 21. I was pretty proud of drinking something that was unique “crafty” and, frankly, had a bike on it (I like bikes.) I dug the bottle because it was different than the rest of the beers I was use to drinking, like MGD, Budweiser and the occasional (more than occasional?) Old English.
Anyway, that was a while ago and in that same vein, New Belgium has been around a while. 25 years to be exact!
New Belgium is one of the grand daddy’s of craft beer. They aren’t as old as Sierra Nevada (1980), but they certainly have impacted craft beer like few others. Fat Tire is in the same league as Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale in terms of what I’d call a “keystone beer”, or those beers so many others were either inspired by or were built off of.
They’ve had such a great impact, they are thinking of leaving their independent craft roots. NB recently announced they are searching for a buyer, or equity. Doing this would allow them to continue expansion of their brand nationally and maybe even internationally. Some of those on the west coast forget that New Belgium isn’t as well known in other parts of the US. For instance, they just recently announced distribution in New York.
Interestingly enough, the announcement they were looking for equity or a buyer came as sales of their beers were slowing. 2015 was the first down year in the company’s history. Perhaps this is the impetus for reenergizing with this collaboration project? Looking for a buyer, blowout 25th? How healthy is New Belgium anyway?
Well, those bygone days of drinking Fat Tire in my late teens will now become a nationally recognized collaboration beer. New Belgium announced that they are collaborating with Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME), Avery Brewing (Boulder, Colo.), Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA), Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, OR) and Rhinegeist Brewery (Cincinnati, OH). These pillars of hoppiness will be brewing up their take on the famous Fat Tire beer.
“In the early days we used to say that if we could just sell 60 cases of beer a week we’d be a success,” said co-founder, Kim Jordan. “It’s a different landscape these days yet the things that make our work meaningful – community, camaraderie, creativity – are still alive and well. Working with so many great friends and talented brewers while reimagining Fat Tire is the perfect way to celebrate all the things we love most about our craft.”
A preview of what each brewery’s take on Fat Tire will be:
Allagash – Belgian yeast sourced from the Poperinge region and a touch of the Allagash house Brettanomyces – expect notes of stone fruit, sweet tart and peppercorn;
Avery – Fruitier hop bill also with a dose of brett evoking notes of apricot and pineapple
Firestone Walker – A west coast interpretation of Fat Tire with an assertive hop profile and a light lager yeast
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) – A tart Fat Tire bringing in apple and lactobacillus to help highlight that beautiful green apple snap inherent to the original Fat Tire
Rhinegeist – A Belgian XPA, combining a fruity Belgian yeast strain with bready-sweet European and Colorado malts for a beer to please hopheads and wine drinkers alike.
In the comments, I want to hear your first Fat Tire experience.