“What’s that beer called? Flat Tire? I had it once out in Colorado, it’s pretty good.” This is how most of my conversations went with my friends last week when I told them that New Belgium Brewing was expanding their sales into our region. Of course, their tried and true Fat Tire Amber Ale has made its mark on the beer world, but what about some of their lesser known offerings?On Monday, May 16, bars and restaurants all across Rochester were excited to feature New Belgium Brewing products for the first time. Based in Fort Collins, Colo., founder Jeff Lebesch was inspired by a journey through Belgium riding a bicycle with “fat tires.” Upon his return home, he brewed his first batch of Fat Tire, which has many characteristics of the brown dubbel style beers he encountered in Europe. By 1991, he took his brewery commercial and the rest is history.
Is seemed like every bar in town was hosting some sort of tasting event. One of my friends in Irondequoit said he was going to check out The Sly Fox Tavern up in Summerville on the lake. I had the same idea, so we grabbed a third and headed for the lake. The Sly Fox is located near the end of St. Paul Boulevard, in a location that was formerly a diner. We were pleased to find the interior was nicely finished and had plenty of seating at the bar. Eric the bartender confirmed the place had only opened a couple months ago.
I enjoyed the beer New Belgium is best known for, their Fat Tire Amber Ale (5.2%). I’ve only enjoyed this beer in bottles, the last time I had it was in Chicago. It was great to finally enjoy a draft pint of this rich, golden ale. I tend to be swayed by malty beers with sweet flavor notes, and I find Fat Tire to be a nice easy drinker.
Next I tried a Citradelic Tangerine IPA (6.0%), which had a very nice balance between light hop and a range of citrus flavors. You get a hint of sweet before you finish with some hoppy bitterness (and not in an unpleasant way).
I wrapped up my tour of New Belgium with a pint of Heavy Melon Watermelon Lime Ale (5.0%). There was no syrupy sweetness here, just an easy-drinking ale with some very subtle watermelon and lime flavors (and if you think about it, watermelon is not exactly known for its robust flavor). I would definitely enjoy a few of these on the back porch this summer.
New Belgium Brewing (http://www.newbelgium.com/) has a range of beers in their portfolio, and with the regional launch, you can find their brews in bars and restaurants across the city. Don’t forget to check out your local bottle shops and beer stores, too. If you’re looking for a friendly place to enjoy a beer and some food, check out The Sly Fox Tavern at 5324 St. Paul Boulevard.