By now, the entire beer drinking population of greater Pensacola should already be aware that the long wait is over. New Belgium Brewing Co. has finally arrived in the Panhandle.
Their flagship beer, Fat Tire Amber, was the first name in sought-after beer in our area. Now that it’s here, what’s to become of its desirability? Will its very presence kill its reputation and charm?
For a long time I have held the opinion that the reason everyone always asked for it was because they couldn’t get it anywhere near here. People would hear about it, ask for it and get turned down. They would research where it was sold and find out how limited the supply was. This created the mystique of Fat Tire being an unobtainable beer.
People spoke of it in hushed whispers as if it were a capricious deity of the Greek pantheon, ready to hurl lightning bolts or release the Kraken upon the populace should you speak ill of its name. Well, perhaps not that reverent, but you get the idea.
The beer became a product of its own hype. Question is does the “kid on Christmas morning” anticipation disappear now that we can open our presents, so to speak?
Thankfully, no. This is a good beer and the patience of everyone who waited all these years for it is now being rewarded. What we will have to wait for is the beer to be available in both draft and 12 oz formats, can and bottle. The early word on this is sometime in September. For now, all their beer is being sent to us in 22 oz bottles known as bombers.
The origin of Fat Tire comes from brewery founder Jeff Lebesch’s mountain bike travels throughout Belgium. He fell in love with the country’s beer and went back to Colorado to homebrew two styles; a Belgian Dubbel and an amber ale. He named the amber after the thick wheels on his mountain bike.
Now that New Belgium has become as ubiquitous around here as blue roofs after a hurricane, we can enjoy a well-balanced session beer pretty much anywhere in town. Seriously, I’m seeing it show up in eateries that never bought 22 oz bottles before. That alone should prove how anticipated this beer was.
Balance and approachability are the beer’s hallmarks. This auburn brew sports a bright white head that fades kind of quickly but leaves nice lacing behind in the glass. Scents are bready and sweet; honey-glazed biscuit, wet grain, caramel and a hint of herbal hops. Speaking of, the Willamette, Goldings and Target hops all do their job here keeping the beer’s sweet and earthy notes up front with minimal bitterness allowing the malt to be the centerpiece. It finishes light and crisp while the 5.2% abv maintains a session quality.
Fat Tire had some pretty big expectations to fulfill. For once we can believe the hype.