New Belgium Brewing revamps Fat Tire beer with new recipe, branding

More than 30 years after New Belgium Brewing Co. debuted Fat Tire amber ale, the brewery’s flagship beer is getting a makeover.

From the recipe to the branding, Fat Tire is practically a brand new product, designed to be “crisper” and “brighter” in hopes of attracting a new generation of drinkers, per a brewery statement. Katie Wallace, New Belgium’s chief environmental, social and governance officer, contends the new version isn’t a total departure from the original Fat Tire, which has helped many drinkers embrace craft beer since it came out in 1991.

“We’re using the same malt, we’re using the same yeast and a lot of the same brewing processes,” Wallace said.

Longtime fans will notice differences between the two brews, however. Stylistically, the new Fat Tire more closely resembles a blonde ale than an amber ale, as it’s lighter in color and body, with a subtle grainy sweetness in both aroma and flavor. Compared to the old recipe, its flavor profile is less complex, losing many of the caramel and bready notes that made it famous and inspired countless knockoff over the years.

The recipe’s alcohol content remains the same at 5.2%, but the International Bitterness Units (IBUs) – a measure of a beer’s hop profile – have decreased slightly to 15 from 22.

For the second time in four years, Fat Tire’s branding has undergone a stark revamp, too. Cans and bottles trade their deep blue and red colors for a predominantly white label featuring a royal blue logo with a pop of red, though the beer’s signature cruiser bike remains front and center.

According to Wallace, the branding more accurately reflects Fat Tire’s mission to address climate change. In 2020, New Belgium declared Fat Tire as “America’s first certified carbon neutral beer,” saying it had reduced the production impact by both cutting emissions and buying carbon offsets that support regenerative barley farming practices, among other offsets.

“As palates have changed, we’re looking at customers preferring maybe some crisper and drier varieties, especially the newer beer drinkers coming on the scene,” Wallace said. “I also see those newer beer drinkers as being some of the best climate advocates we’ve had in history, so the fact that we’ve been long-time advocates on the Fat Tire brand platform, see it as an opportunity to connect more intentionally with that generation of climate advocates.”

Drinkers can expect to find the new Fat Tire widely available on store shelves and draft taps starting this week, though they may also see the old version available depending on where they shop.

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