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Fat tire.....again!

So, I’m giving another shot at brewing a fat tire clone. After reading many posts about recipes for this I went to New Belgium’s site and noticed they say Fat Tire has Crystal 80 in it and Willamette, Goldings and Target hops…I hadn’t seen these as part of a recipe posted before. Does anyone have a keeper recipe for this clone?

The one I like:

7# LME
1/2# Victory
1/2# Gr Munich
1/2# Am Dextrine
3/4# 40L Crystal

1/2 oz Magnum @60
1/2 oz Kent Goldings @20
1/2 oz Willamette @1

1187 Ringwood

Not perfect but maybe it will get you closer.

I think the biggest issue here is that Fat Tire has gone through a bunch of different configurations and I think that New Belgium would admit to that. This was originally a beer that was inspired by the owner’s biking trip through Belgium but there’s nothing Belgian about this beer. I have had good and bad bottles of it (which is always possible due to handling, etc.) and I remember it being much more roasty when it was new and a bit more bland now. The yeast could be English or American. The site says Pale malt, C80, Munich and Victory along with the hops you mention, Willamette, Target and Goldings. Those three hops suggest a slant towards “English” so maybe the 1187 is a good call afterall. If this were an extract batch, you could steep the C80, Munich and Victory (Let’s just say 8 ounces each, for good measure) and add 6½ to 7 lbs of LME and then find a way to get to the 18-20 IBUs with the hops mentioned and then ferment it with either a good liquid ale yeast of English or US origin. Just thinking out loud.

I thought it was just me…current FT is not what I first sampled and loved many years ago. I don’t buy it any more. It’s still better than BMC, but not good enough for my coinage when I’m considering a commercial brew with dinner or drinks with friends at HH. ;-(


Over the weekend, my wife and I were in Lake Geneva, WI (a tourist-trap kind of place) having lunch. She ordered a Fat Tire and I ordered a nice German Lager from New Glarus called “Two Women” which is a nod to the woman who runs the brewery in WI and the woman who runs Weyermann in Germany. It’s a delicious amber lager. The waitress comes and sets a beer in front of me and says, “I think that’s the Two Women” and sets the other beer in front of my wife. I said, “Wrong” and the waitress said, “What? Really?” and I took a sip of the one in front of me and passed it to my wife, then took a sip of the other one… Ah, much better. On the next round, my wife said, “Yeah, he picked the better beer for sure, make it TWO Two Women!” LOL.

I am not a big fan of Fat Tire, but I would guess it is based on DeKoninck, or Special Palm. I have had both of these beers fresh. They are tasty amber ales, malt focused with a hint of hops, and a dry lager like finish. Unfortunately, they are usually oxidized and horribly phenolic here in the U.S. I think the secret to these beers is the yeast. White Labs Antwerp (WLP 515) yeast is the best. It is very clean (no phenolics) with a slight fruitiness, a hint of cinnamon in the nose, and sulfur in the finish. DeKoninck uses Saaz throughout, and Palm uses Fuggles and Goldings so the hops are not that important.

I think your recipe looks good. Get some Antwerp yeast and you will get close to what you are after. My second choice would be German Ale or Kolsch yeast. My DeKoninck recipe uses Pils, Munich, biscuit, and I prefer Cara-Vienne over crystal 40. I think the crystal malt can over power the complexity of the yeast.

My guess is that the original Fat Tire was not “neutral” enough for some beer drinkers to catapult the beer to super-status. As a result, the brewers turned it down a little bit both in the hops and roastiness department. Would New Belgium rather have a great beer that sells just this much or would they rather compromise, have a “decent” beer that sells THAT much? Just guessing.

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