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Where in Town: Target, 3100 14th St. NW
Price: $17.99/mixed 12-pack
When I was coming of (drinking) age in Colorado in the ’90s, New Belgium’s Fat Tire was the first “good beer” I ever had. So much has changed since then, both with the availability of different beers and the continuous evolution of my palate, that Fat Tire—a first love—doesn’t excite me as it once did. Still, New Belgium’s first flagship is one of the most commercially successful beers ever made, and one that helped inspire the revolution in American brewing. So it’s fitting that the Fort Collins brewery, now fourth largest in the nation, is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a mixed “Fat Tire and Friends” 12-pack consisting of the original amber ale alongside re-creations from five breweries: Maine’s Allagash, Oregon’s Hopworks, Colorado’s Avery, California’s Firestone Walker, and Ohio’s Rhinegeist.
A New Strain
Given that New Belgium’s founding brewer first conceived of Fat Tire while on a bike ride through Belgium, the brewers at Allagash elected to riff on the beer’s roots. The resulting Fat Funk Ale shares its predecessor’s deep amber color but is topped with the thick, frothy cream head of a Belgian tripel. Made from the same malt and hops as the original, Allagash’s remake carries a similar biscuity malt backbone and grassy hop bite. But the use of yeast from West Flanders’ De Dolle brewery imparts notes of banana, pear, pepper, and clove that are unique—as is the beer’s subtle funkiness, thanks to bottle conditioning with Allagash’s house strain of Brettanomyces. Ultimately, the 5.6-percent-alcohol Fat Funk is a fuller-flavored version of its mild-mannered forerunner and a fun brew to try for those of you who, like me, appreciate Fat Tire as a formative beer.