If you have set foot in a liquor store or a liquor department at your local grocery store you probably noticed that New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale, along with their Mothership Wit (Organic Wheat) and 1554 Enlightened Black Ale beers are now available in Wisconsin. Fans of Fat Tire have been lamenting the unavailability of this Fort Collins, Colorado Brew for years, bragging to all within earshot that its “their favorite beer ever” Lament no longer because the stuff is everywhere. Having tasted Fat Tire on numerous occasions, my question is why is this beer in such high demand? I recall being in Chicago shortly after it was released there and people were going nuts for it there too.
I don’t have anything against Fat Tire or New Belgium brewing I just don’t get the hype. It seems like these beer drinkers feel that they have been deprived of the best beer ever brewed. Fat Tire isn’t a bad beer but it sure isn’t an outstanding one either. It’s a gateway beer. A microbrew that is mild enough that your typical Miller or Budweiser drinker would like it, kind of like Spotted Cow or Leinenkugel’s Red. In this instance I believe the mere fact that it wasn’t available here is a large reason (if not the only reason) people are clamoring for it. I predict that in a year or so the Fort Collins beers will be just like every other beer that finally makes its way to Wisconsin, just another good beer choice among hundreds of other good beers available to us.
Its not like the fans of Fat Tire don’t have options. Why haven’t they been enjoying some of the great Amber/Red style beers already being brewed in Wisconsin. Sprecher Amber, Capitol’s Wisconsin Amber, Tyranena’s The Headless Man Amber Alt, Ale Asylum’s Ambergeddon, and Central Water’s Ouisconsing Red are just a sampling of the killer red/amber style ales brewed here in Wisconsin. Each of these beers are, in my opinion, better than Fat Tire Amber. In celebration of the arrival of the three New Belgium beers I have compiled my list of five beers not available in Wisconsin that I would like here more than Fat Tire:
Three Floyds Alpha King Pale Ale
Three Floyds Gumball Head
Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Deschutes Obsidian Stout
Russian River Pliny the Elder Double IPA
I agree 100% with your entire post. Fat Tire is completely overrated, Wisconsin native brews are not appreciated as much as they should be, and the fact that 3 Floyds lost their distribution in WI last year is a shame (although I heard you can get Dreadnaught again at Discount Liquor in Waukesha).
You can get 22 ounce bottles of Dreadnaught and Alpha Claus at Discount, Woodmans and Three Cellars. I keep asking when 6 packs are coming and they keep telling me they still believe they are coming, but its been months and months and nothing.
Fat Tire is a decent brew but doesn’t worth the current WI price for me…. I don’t get the hype either.
Both hands down I’m for the Deschutes.
Was surprised by the hype around Fat Tire as well. It’s a good beer, but there are many better here in Wisconsin as you pointed out.
It seems similar to when Coors was a regional brand and everyone wanted cases brought back when people visited Colorado. The beer turned out to be just like Bud, only made in the mountains.
Great to hear you sticking up for the local brews. Tyranena brews are well worth the drive to Lake Mills… which isn’t even necessary, since they’re distributed widely in WI. Throw down that fat tire and pick up an Amber Alt… or a Rocky’s Revenge, for that matter!
Well written. I too had it in Chicago a while back and wondered what the hype was about. Haven’t seen the term ‘gateway beer’ beer before but that is perfect.
Not to disparage Alpha King at all but that used to be easy to come by and the Gumball Head seemed scarce so maybe that’s why I still crave it more.
I had Fat Tire for the first time, on tap, in an Austin, Texas bar and it was love at first sip.
I live in Chicagoland, so I am able to buy it, but, like you, I think the hype is way too much. It’s good, but it isn’t the best beer ever made.
Love that my Sam Adam’s summer ale is out on tap this time of year. Sadly, my husband only likes light beers!
I love to go to Binny’s “wall of beer” where you can buy single beers and try new things before you commit to buying a six pack.
Thanks for those other recommendations – looks like I’ll be beer shopping this weekend!
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