Fat Tire, one of the most iconic craft beers of the past three decades, has been given a complete makeover by New Belgium Brewing.
The flagship beer was first created in the basement of a Fort Collins home by the founders of New Belgium Brewing, and for the first time in 32 years, it’s getting a major recipe and branding change.
“We have been working on this recipe update for most of the past two years,” said Christian Holbrook, Brew Master at New Belgium.
As breweries across the country experience a changing market, New Belgium decided in late 2020 that the beer that made their company a household name for many consumers needed to adapt to the current market.
New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer told CBS News Colorado that the company stopped producing their regular Fat Tire recipe at the end of December 2022, citing research that showed a new and lighter brew appealed to younger adult drinkers.
“This is a demographic that has grown up with much more access to flavor and many different types of beverages in supermarkets and convenience stores,” Fechheimer said.
Years of market research and conversations with Fat Tire enthusiasts resulted in a handful of different recipes for the brewery to consider. From there, they narrowed it down to one that is not only lighter drinking, but also has a lighter golden color compared to the original amber ale.
Holbrook and Fechheimer said they were considering the possibility of rolling out the new recipe without even telling the public. However, the brew’s appearance and the company’s desire to be transparent with their regulars outweighed that consideration.
“We’re talking about beer, right?” Holbrook said. “The core of beer is fun.”
Holbrook said he enjoyed working with his colleagues on creating the new brew and packaging for the beer, which will enter production in late 2022.
“I really like where we landed,” Holbrook said.
“(We’ve made something) that’s a little crunchier, a little clearer and a little easier to drink. It’s more in line with the palate and preferences of today’s 21- to 29-year-olds,” Fechheimer said.
New Belgium also boasted of its ability to make the new Fat Tire the first carbon neutral craft beer in the country. They said the logo rebranding underlined the company’s commitment to the environment, noting that they also donate a portion of every barrel sold to environmental protection groups.
With the brewery beginning to roll out the new version of Fat Tire in late 2022, many bars and liquor stores are just now beginning to receive shipments of their new Fat Tire. That means some liquor stores are currently selling the last bottles and cans of the previous recipe on the market.
While the New Belgium team said they’ve received nothing but positive responses to their new blend, some at CBS News Colorado they spoke to said they still prefer the previous recipe.
“It’s immensely gratifying to see it on the market,” said Holbrook.
In the end, New Belgium said the taste and general recipe of the new Fat Tire were so close to the previous version that they felt it was best to convert Fat Tire rather than launch a completely new additional concoction. .
“(We did this) to lighten the body, lighten the flavor a little bit, lighten the color as well. But we’re staying true to the roots that a lot of people know as Fat Tire,” Holbrook said.
“We think current Fat Tire drinkers will absolutely love it, and we also think it will help us recruit a new generation of Fat Tire drinkers and brand enthusiasts,” said Fechheimer.