New to Ohio in 2013 from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO.     5.2% ABV

Fat Tire Amber Ale

Anyone into craft beers has almost certainly heard of Fat Tire and New Belgium Brewing; the beer and brewery seem to have quite a following and reputation. Until recently, however,  New Belgium’s beers weren’t available here in Ohio. Now I dimly recall many years ago while on a business trip to Portland, Oregon, having sampled a taste of Fat Tire while on a pub crawl one evening, but I have no real distinct memory of what it tasted like, other than it wasn’t what I was looking for at the time (which was most likely a massively over-hopped West Coast IPA), so I ordered some other offering, and have not had another opportunity to try it again before now.

It can be a difficult decision when confronted by a number of beers one has never had before and may not have chance to try again in the foreseeable future; couple this with my inherent nature of being a bit of a “moody” beer drinker, and I’m sure I’ve missed out on trying countless beers. Some are long gone, while others may never reach beyond a local or regional distribution. The craft beer drinker is even faced with these choices in the pub with rotating taps or on the beer shelves at the store. It’s the price we gladly pay to have such an awesome selection of beers and breweries to choose from.

There was a time (not all that long ago, really, at least in Ohio) when your beer choice at most bars was several mass market lagers and light lagers and a few import lagers in bottles (which were sometimes old and skunked). I always knew I was in trouble when I’d ask what was available on tap and the response was “We have most everything!”. This invariably meant they had nothing of interest to me. But I digress. I now have a second chance to try Fat Tire (no trouble finding it, with displays in liquor stores, grocery stores, and quickie marts everywhere – they didn’t fool around with the rollout! Not to mention it’s on tap in every decent watering hole in the area as well.) So, after many years’ wait for another chance, here we go!

Fat Tire pours out a brilliant copper-orange, crystal clear, with sparse bubbles rising into a short-lived cream-colored head that settles to a thin layer composed of fine foam and islands of larger bubbles clinging together.

Aromas are of caramel malt, sweet and toasty, with light fruity esters and a hint of citrusy hops.

Body is medium with very light carbonation; texture is smooth with a light oiliness on the palate.

I take a sip, and get lovely toasted malt up front, clean and crisp, with a dry caramel note, followed by grapefruity hops and a smooth yet building bitterness. This leads into a lightly fruity but dry and bitter finish, with some of the caramel malt revisited. It’s lip-smacking at the back end with a nice, lingering bitterness and late fleeting grapefruit note. Well-made, refreshing, drinkable and smooth beer. Nice evolution of flavors. Balanced. Very good session beer I should think. Leaves some nice foam rings on the glass.

I would pair with roast chicken (or other fowl), grilled or broiled salmon, or a Caesar salad. Maybe even some Italian dishes; I had a portion of leftover lasagna while drinking this and it seemed to bring out the hoppy and bitter side of the beer, which was a good balance to the sweetish tomato-based sauce.

Rating     Appearance: 4.5/5     Aroma: 7.5/10     Palate: 4/5     Flavor: 7.5/10     Overall: 16/20

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