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  1. Jim V
    March 6, 2020 @ 2:33 pm

    I think this might be a classic case of mismatched expectations vs experience. Fat Tire is an homage to the clean, amber ales of the Antwerp area of Belgium. Under BJCP you would call it a “24B – Belgian Pale Ale”. Think De Koninck or Palm, not Bell’s Amber. My understanding is that New Belgium calls it an “Amber Ale” for the American consumer (of the early nineties, mind you), as “Belgian Pale Ale” sounds like a Sierra Nevada with saison yeast (it is not).

    These Belgian session beers are very different from their pungent, phenolic and estery Belgian cousins. Amber in color, fruity but typically not very phenolic (low phenols optional), almost lager-like in some cases (Palm). Low-med to medium bitterness, with some optional hop aroma and character (German or UK hops typical). These beers are mainly characterized by a deep biscuit character, not altogether unlike a nice, cleaner example of ESB.

    This is one of the most misunderstood styles in the US, in my humble little opinion. If you call it a “Belgian Pale Ale” (which is accurate), people expect a hoppy, bitter, phenolic pale beer. If you call it “Amber Ale”, as New Belgium has done for 30 years, people expect a caramelly gateway middle-of-the-road, but kind of boring, American beer with Cascade hops, as you’ve described.

    Do me a favor… go to a trusted beer store and pick up a Palm. Try it next to a Fat Tire.

    Your flavor notes are all spot on! A very good review. It’s the last bit about the style notes that I am calling out. Cheers!


    • GT Wharton
      March 30, 2020 @ 10:13 am

      Very good point. Thanks for the insight!


    • Doug L
      March 30, 2020 @ 10:37 am

      Mr. Jim,

      Excellent insight. I have never heard Fat Tire described this way. I am going to do as you recommended and try next to a Palm. Who says you can’t teach on old dog (or Doug) a new trick?

      It reminds me of a dish I received at a restaurant. It was described as beef stew and was “horrible”. If it has been described as vegetable beef soup, it would have been “excellent”. All about those expectations.

      Thanks again for offering an alternative view.


      • Jim V
        March 30, 2020 @ 11:23 am

        Thanks to Doug and GT,

        I was feeling a little insecure about my assertions (which came from memory at the time I wrote that). I did some research to try to confirm my claims, and mostly succeeded. For one example see here (read the whole thing, or text search for “Palm”):

        Great style! I distinctly remember sitting in Antwerp years ago drinking De Koninck (delicious) and thinking, “now I understand Fat Tire!”

        Doug — great example with soup/stew. 🙂


  2. Doug L
    February 27, 2020 @ 2:49 pm

    Thank you. I thought I was alone in my feelings on Fat Tire as “popular” as it seems to be.

    Many, many years ago I tried Fat Tire and wasn’t impressed enough to order again or even try other beers by the same brewery. With a name like New Belgium, I expected a bready yeast or a real Belgian vibe, I didn’t get any of that. I was just disappointed in thinking they could (and should) do so much better.

    Fast forward, I moved near-ish to Asheville and was told by a lot of people to visit the brewery for a tour. I am glad I listened… the tour was really fun and I was able to discover a lot of good options by New Belgium. They really have some tasty beers that aren’t Fat Tire. I was surprised by their Voodoo Ranger line and the quality of IPAs I was able to sample.

    Thanks again for the review.


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