Remembering What Once Was
A Review of Fat Tire by New Belgium Brewing Co.
Posted on 11/20/2011 by Chops
When a local craft brew becomes really popular and sparks a high demand, one of two things will typically happen. One, the brewery will expand production to a peak capacity that is defined by the availability of their core ingredients. Or two, the brewery will simply expand production to meet demand by any means necessary, usually translating into recipe modifications. Unique ingredients get substituted, core characteristics get sacrificed, and brewers lose much of their hands-on intimacy. Sadly, this is what I suspect happened to Fat Tire, a beer that used to be great.

In the glass, Fat Tire has a basic copper coloration. There is an overbearing metallic aroma that is common with mass produced beer. Lurking underneath is a weak malty smell that seems disjointed. The taste consists of a mundane malt with some caramel notes. It's decently smooth and easy drinking due to a very sparse hop profile. The finish is more lager like with a lingering metallic aftertaste. Be sure to get through the beer before it warms, at which point it turns into an inconsistent lager-like mess. Unfortunately, Fat Tire just isn't stylistically reliable.

Some of us remember what Fat Tire tasted like before going mainstream. It certainly deserved to get popular, but New Belgium's response to demand was really disappointing. I still remember the first time I saw a Fat Tire truck roll by my local haunt. I was really excited and hopeful, only to have my hopes dashed with the first pint. Beer fans nationwide had much the same reaction: ''This... is not Fat Tire.'' It had become a shadow of its former self.

Overall, New Belgium's Fat Tire is an okay beer these days. It's certainly better than most of the mass produced piss waters, but in becoming so mercilessly distributed, it's dangerously close to becoming a piss water itself. I currently put Fat Tire on par with the lower end of Samuel Adams. Definitely take it over big beer swill, but it just can't compete with even the most mediocre of today's craft brews. Hopefully Fat Tire will remain where it is as a small step up from big beer. But the way things are going, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear the kiss of death: ''Anheuser-Busch acquires New Belgium.''

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Fat Tire by New Belgium Brewing Co.
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