Pros: Smooth, good flavor and character
Cons: Traditional 22oz "bomber" bottle would pack a whallop
What many people do not know is Colorado now produces more beer than any other state in the Union. While this fact may surprise many, it is supported by the success and proliferation of microbreweries such as New Belgium.
The New Belgium Brewery is a fairly unassuming place on the north side of Fort Collins, CO. They recently expanded into a new building due to their ever increasing success. The new facility is a Munich-made Steinecker brewhouse. The address is 500 Linden and their phone number is(970) 221-0524 or 1.888.NBB.4044. Their web site is www.newbelgium.com. The tour of the brewery when I last visited was a self guided walk that followed a line on the floor and took all of a half hour. What this should tell you is that this is no mass produced swill. The facility is immaculate, and of course the water comes down from the mountains as the snowpack melts. The beers are currently available in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Western Montana, the panhandle of Idaho, Washington, Missouri and Texas.
I grew up a mere 30 miles from where the brewery is located, and I was in college in my hometown when their beers came onto the market, in late 1991. I can say from first hand experience that Fat Tire, the first and probably best beer made by New Belgium, has become the most well known and best liked beer in the state. That is no small feat considering the sheer quantity of different brands and types to choose from.
Fat Tire, as the label on the bottle will tell you, is a dry-hopped amber ale. It has a distinctive nutty malt flavor and a fresh hoppy aroma. The company describes how a small amount of yeast remains in the bottle which gives the beer a freshness and fullness of character which is otherwise lost by sterile-filtration and pasteurizing processes.
Sunshine Wheat is a heifeweizen type beer, golden and light. Most bars in Colorado will serve it with a slice of lemon automatically. There is something about the lemon that adds just the right blending of flavors. This beer is crisp with virtually no bitterness at all. It does have a hint of tartness thanks to the coriander and orange peel added during the brewing process.
Blue Paddle is a newer offering that I have only limited experience with, but has proved to be a very drinkable beer nonetheless. It is a pilsner, but is a malt only brew, so it is not strictly a Belgium style but more of a Bohemian style.
The other offerings include the ABBEY BELGIAN STYLE ALE, TRIPPEL BELGIAN STYLE ALE, SAISON BELGIAN STYLE FARMHOUSE ALE, FRAMBOZEN RASPBERRY BROWN ALE, 1 5 5 4 BRUSSELS STYLE BLACK ALE, and PORCH SWING SINGLE ALE. I haven't had any experience with these, but the brewery has established a good track record, and if you are a fan of these styles of beer then you are sure to be pleased.