New Belgium Fat Tire Review

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This universally drinkable craft brew is "smooth" and "balanced with malt," and lacks the polarizing hoppiness of some other craft selections in our tasting.

When consumers think of cheap beer, upmarket craft selections are probably not what come to mind. Affordable craft brews typically run $3 to $4 more for a six-pack than standard American lagers. New Belgium Fat Tire isn't the cheapest libation on the shelf, but our 2016 blind taste test of this and three other craft beers and five American-style lagers determined that it's a pretty darned good value for those who crave the complex flavor profile that craft beers tend to provide.

We paid $8.99 for a sixer of 12-ounce bottles with a supermarket club card -- a $1 savings off the $9.99 regular price, which works out to just under 14 cents an ounce. For that price, our panel of seven seven beer enthusiasts got a "smooth," "nutty" amber ale with flavors of "malt and chocolate up front" and a "medium finish." The panelists all enjoyed this brew, and two proclaimed it a favorite. After the tasters' rankings were tallied, New Belgium Fat Tire stood out above all the rest.

Interestingly, when a different group of tasters convened for a Cheapism taste-off a few years ago, some dismissed Fat Tire for what they considered an unpleasant "woody" or "murky" taste taste. Partisans painted a picture of a "roasty," "chocolate" beer.

Belgian ambers are similar to, but less hoppy than, pale ales. True to form, our tasters appreciated Fat Tire's "low hops" and "light brown" appearance. Whereas Belgian beers have a reputation for incorporating fruit and spices such as coriander, Fat Tire's flavor profile was clean, with just a hint of sweetness. Our panelists did note some of the "bubbly" carbonation that Belgian brews typically present.

Expert and consumer reviews of New Belgium Fat Tire support the impressions of volunteers at Cheapism's recent tasting session. Commenters at BeerAdvocate, as well as the Alström brothers, who own and run the site, give this brew a solid "good" rating of 82 out of 100. Posts repeatedly reference the malt's "toasty" or "biscuity" notes and call it a pleasing, "uncomplicated" quaff. Blogger The Beer Snob simply says Fat Tire is a "must-try," and despite a small sample size of only 13 reviews, Total Wine commenters give this ale an overall 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Brewed commercially since 1991, Fat Tire was one of the first beers offered by Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Co. Today, the 5.2 percent ABV amber ale is the brewery's flagship product and available nationwide.

Gina Briles

Gina K. Briles writes family, household, and shopping-related product reviews. She is a displaced Jayhawk and a coffee addict living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two small children, and Vizsla dog.

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