Dear Fat Tire,
It’s not me. It’s you.
Sunshine and rainbows,
Name: Fat Tire Amber Ale
Origin: New Belgium Brewing Inc., Fort Collins, CO
Style: American Amber Ale
IBU: not available
I drank this: on tap at Jack Gage’s, Midtown Kansas City, MO (and a series of other places throughout my drinking years)
This, judging by the sheer number of reviews on Beer Advocate, is easily New Belgium’s most widespread beer. I will go so far as to say that I think it might actually be their most popular beer (though 1554 might give it a run – I’m not honestly sure)(1554 is a significantly more worthy beer for a high popularity level – that stuff is amazing). Anyway, given general popularity, I’m dead shocked at how bad this stuff is. Like, vile, awful, terrible. And I have a hard time saying that the pint upon which I’m basing this review is somehow at fault – this particular pint was an exact reiteration of every other (regrettable) time I’ve tried this beer.
Looks first. If there’s a reason for this beer’s popularity, I’m convinced it’s based on looks. It’s a stunningly pretty amber-reddish-slightly orange color, very clear, with a lovely white head of foam on top. Visually, this is pretty much what beer snobs picture when they think of beer (and they’re not thinking specifically of a stout). It’s beautiful.
Looks can be deceiving.
Taste second. The taste isn’t so bad when its isolated and completely on its own (i.e., when I plugged my nose and took a sip that way, which I did out of desperation to see if I could get a sense of the taste alone). It’s a malty amber with some fruity, almost grape-y hop notes and a hint of milk chocolate in the background. So: malty chocolate grapes. In the immortal words of Rachel Ray: YUM-O.
Scent third. And final. Um, the scent is bad. Really, really bad. It smells, in the immortal words of my friend Charles, who was sitting across the high top table with me while I took my reviewing notes, “like vomit.” I would amend this only to say that it smells specifically of “red wine vomit.” As in there’s a certain amount of synesthesia which takes place in my head in encountering this scent: when I smell it not only do I think “vomit,” but I also think “purple.” Add in the distinctly grape overtones in the taste, and I arrive at red wine vomit. Enough (well, probably too much) said. Just plain egregious.
So where does that leave us? I know this stuff is popular because it’s a common brew on tap even in bars that have few craft brews, meaning they must move enough of it to make it worth carrying in bars where few beer snobs spend their money, meaning it must have some level of popular appeal. However, I will never, never again have another one – this has to be my fifth attempt to like this beer and I’ve failed each and every time. The scent obliterates any ability I might have to enjoy this beer. New Belgium really does make some fantastic beers, but this is NOT one of them.