Monday, June 13, 2011

New Belgium's Fat Tire Amber Ale

Since 1991, New Belgium Brewing Company has defined itself by not only its beers, but also its corporate practices.  With regard to the former, New Belgium is employee-owned, with employees gaining a share of the business after having worked for one year with the brewer.  Also, on their first anniversary, the employee receives a cruiser bike.  The bikes are to encourage employees to forgo their cars and reduce their carbon footprint.

Bikes play an important role not only with the identity of New Belgium, but also its flagship beer, the Fat Tire Amber Ale.   The "Fat Tire" is named in honor of the founder's bike trip through Belgium.  Indeed, New Belgium is symbolic of that Belgian trip ... just as the founder pedaled his way from Belgian city to city, so the brewery goes from beer to beer, brewing in a style that brings the best of that Belgium's brewing traditions to the United States.

The Fat Tire is an amber ale and, as expected, the beer pours a very nice amber color.  The aromatic elements of this beer feature the malts used in the production of this beer.  The brewer uses Pale, C-80, Munich and Victory malts.  The aromas provided by these malts, as well as the yeast, give this beer a very pleasant aroma.  However, most red ales are known more for their hops than their malts or yeasts.  New Belgium uses Willamette, Golding and Target hops to make this beer.

As for the taste, the brewer notes that the beer has a biscuit like maltiness that is balanced with hoppy freshness.  I have to agree with this description.  The beer does have a sort of bready, biscuity flavor, that is clearly tied to the malts.  There are hints of the hops in the beer; however, the flavor of this ale is more about the malts than the hops.  This provides a different taste experience, setting the Fat Tire apart from other red ales in a very good way. 

The Fat Tire Amber Ale has an ABV of 5.2%.  I picked up a six pack of the beer after a morning of fishing in the Outer Banks for $8.99.  I have heard New Belgium is in the process of expanding its distribution, and, therefore, this beer should become more widely available in the near future.

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