I always wondered how the folks in Atlanta reacted after getting their first sip of the beer that Bandit and Snowman worked so hard to sneak in. I mean, it's Coors. I imagine some Georgian had to have said, "You evaded Sheriff Buford T. Justice and risked time in prison for THIS?!?"
For our twentieth review, the Knights had some Fat Tire Ale (from the Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Company) hauled in. This cult favorite only recently started crossing the Mississippi and is still not shipped to Indiana.
Sitting around the Beer Round Table, along with myself, were Knights Chris, Jim, Kelly, and Mike. Gina and Matt were guests who also provided commentary. My lovely wife, The Lovely Wife, was also there, but since she doesn't like beer, she didn't drink beer. Look for her new blog soon: "Hoosier Girlie-Drinks-With-Little-Paper-Umbrellas Geek".
For the big 2-0, we decided to change things up. Before doing a review of the Fat Tire, we did a blind taste test of 5 Red/Amber Ales. Since I was playing host and knew which beer was which, I elected not to provide commentary.
Among the five, the favorite was a Fort Collins, Colorado beer, but not the one you are thinking. Retro Red from Fort Collins Brewing Company. This was a unanimous selection. Everybody enjoyed the sweetness of the flavor and the complexity of the aromas.
Second place was a toss up between Bell's Amber from Michigan and Barrel House RedLegg from Cincinnati, Ohio. Everyone agreed that they were both equally good. The RedLegg, by the way, can usually be found at Great American Ballpark, home of the Reds. Hence the name.
Fourth place went to Breckenridge Avalanche Ale. It wasn't that it was a bad beer. But this beer was lacking in flavor and mouthfeel compared to the previous three.
Fifth place went to Fat Tire. A dirty trick played by yours truly on the rest of the Knights. Even those who had Fat Tire in the past didn't recognize it during the blind taste test.
Does this mean that Fat Tire is a bad beer? Not by any means. There is always the possibility that, in traveling from Colorado to Chicago, the beer went Pepe Le Pew on us. It could be that, given their popularity, they are producing so much that a bad batch went out. It is difficult to say. Given the circumstances, we decided that it wouldn't be fair to rate Fat Tire right now. We'll try again in the near future, after Mike and Gina return from a trip to St. Louis with a new batch of brew.
But I think this little test illustrates that Fat Tire may not be the best red ale out there. Given the difficulties Hoosiers have in obtaining this frequently-praised beer, it should be comforting to know that there are at least four other red/amber ales that are worthy of attention and admiration, whether Fat Tire is available or not.