Sunday, December 6, 2009

159. New Belgium Fat Tire Ale

This marks our third beer from New Belgium Brewery; we’ve previously had 1554 Enlightened Black Ale and La Folie. This beer was also one of the first non-Northwest beers to show up in Washington during the 90’s—I recall fondly some early deuce-deuce drinking in the L-Y-double N-W-double O-D. Go Haggen’s!

Fat Tire Ale has a bready nose mixed with equal parts roasty, biscuity, and grainy notes to round out the light fruity smell and touch of floral hops. Brilliant clarity with an amber color and an ivory head that laces the glass well. The body begins with a grainy malt flavor and some sweetness before moving into a biscuity middle that has a touch of hop bitterness and another malt flavor that we can’t quite pin down—something like a dark crystal or a Special B—that provides a sweet roastiness. It closes dry with some lingering biscuit and minimal hop bitterness. Fat Tire has a medium to light body and average carbonation with not too much bite. Overall, a good beer; the graininess in the front was a bit distracting, but the body was well-balanced. If we saw it on tap, we’d certainly give it another shot.

From the bottle: “Fat Tire Amber Ale’s appeal is in its feat of balance: toasty, biscuit-like malt flavors coasting into equilibrium with hoppy freshness. Named in honor of Jeff’s mountain bike trip from brewery to brewery through Europe, Fat Tire is still crafted following the original recipe that Jeff brainstormed on this cycling trip.”

You’ll forgive us if we’re a little skeptical of that last claim to instantaneous perfection. That is, unless “original recipe” means he was intending to use beer brewing ingredients, and thus still follows the recipe using only real beer brewing ingredients.

From the New Belgium website: “Named in honor of our founder Jeff’s bike trip through Belgium, Fat Tire Amber Ale marks a turning point in the young electrical engineer’s home brewing. Belgian beers use a far broader palette of ingredients (fruits, spices, esoteric yeast strains) than German or English styles. Jeff found the Belgian approach freeing. Upon his return, Jeff created Fat Tire and Abbey Belgian Ale, (assuming Abbey would be his big gun). He and his wife, Kim traveled around sampling their homebrews to the public. Fat Tire’s appeal quickly became evident. People liked everything about it. Except the name. Fat Tire won fans with its sense of balance: toasty, biscuit-like malt flavors coasting in equilibrium with hoppy freshness.”

ABV: 5.2%


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