My First-Ever Beer Review

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Since continued snow and ice make cycling difficult, I have decided to take this blog into uncharted waters with its first ever beer review.  While reading this review, please keep in mind that my knowledge of beer is even less than my knowledge of cycling.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Good.  Lets start then.

Yesterday, I was in the grocery store minding my own business (rarely do I mind other people’s business when I’m in the grocery store) and I came across a beer with a picture of a bicycle on the label.  Immediately sensing the topic of a blog post, I grabbed a six-pack and brought it home for some “scientific study.”

The first thing I did was some research and I am glad I did.  It turns out Fat Tire is the flagship beer of the New Belgium Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado.  This company is the third largest microbrewery in America (and one of the oldest) and the seventh largest brewery of any type in the U.S.  The company was founded in 1991 after its soon-to-be-founder, Jeff Lebesch, completed a cycling trip through Belgium that focused on visits to its many breweries.  Fat Tire Ale is an homage to that trip and the beers of that region.

A beer based on a cycling trip.  I was officially hooked.

Fat Tire sold extremely well, so well that its distinctive label (featuring what appears to be a vintage Schwinn Phantom, drawn by artist Anne Fitch) became more famous than company’s logo.  Other beers produced by the company did not sell as well due to a lack of brand recognition.  In 2006, New Belgium Brewing switched its logo to include the distinctive Phantom and things improved even more for the company.  Kim Jordan, the company president, partially credits the beer’s artwork for its success.  “Our beers were good, our labels were interesting to people, and we pretty quickly had a fairly robust following.”

The artwork certainly worked on me.  It’s really the only reason I bought the beer.

Having completed my research, I realized I had another problem – I had no idea how to review a beer.  So I went to this site and learned that Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel, and Overall (ASTMO) are the common categories used in beer reviews.  So, without further ado, here’s my review:

APPEARANCE.  This was a 12oz beer poured into an Coors Beer glass I got in 1987 during a brewery tour (my first and only tour of a brewery).  You can see for yourself what the beer looks like.  It was  a clear dark copper color with a head that stayed for several minutes.

SMELL.  I would describe the smell as being like beer.  I guess I need to work on my skills in this area.  If pressed, I would add that it was a little “earthy.”

TASTE.  A pleasant surprise, as I don’t normally care for darker beers.  I don’t care for bitterness and this had a refreshing lack of that quality.  I would call it crisp with a nice taste that isn’t too strong.

MOUTHFEEL.  My mouth felt fine, thank you.  I guess what they’re getting after here are things like aftertaste, which there wasn’t much of – another plus.

OVERALL.  To my untrained palate, this is a perfect beer for everyday social occasions.  An hour or two on the back deck on a hot summer’s day would be a perfect setting for two or three of these beers.  The taste is quite nice and the back story on the beer makes for a fantastic conversation starter!

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16 thoughts on “My First-Ever Beer Review

  1. You piqued my interest even more than normal mate! An important omission in your tasting notes, the ABV. We need to know the strength. And no, I won’t make the usual Brit comments about weak as Gnat’s piss Yank beer. That would be beneath me and you!

  2. I’m with massivemtber and deprecate the strength of the beer. If I have too much at that strength it becomes in the words of one of my ex-pupils, “Daddy’s falling down medicine.”

    I assumed from the title that this was going to be the first ever bottle of beer that you had drunk but I realise now that it is your first review not your first beer so well done for venturing into such a highly contested field.

    My own taste is for 3.5% flattish draught beer with a good bitter taste so in spite of the fine label, I’ll give the Fat Tire a miss.

    • It would be quite a feat to have reached my advanced age and never drank a bottle of beer. It’s interesting to learn that there are at least two people in “The Old World” who enjoy a low-alcohol beer. It is commonly understood around here that folks in Europe look down upon beers with less alcohol than moonshine.

  3. Beer and bikes seem to go well together. I know plenty of people who like both, too!

    I think it’s kind of funny that you call Fat Tire a “darker” beer, as amber ales don’t qualify as dark to me. I suppose it’s darker than a pilsner, which is not my favorite style of beer– I love stouts and porters, so what can I say.

    • You are, of course, correct. I guess my description of the color comes from my own biases, rather than an informed opinion. I consider “normal” beer to be the color of Budweiser. Anything darker must be something fancy. Obviously I know that isn’t necessarily the case but I still let that bias come through in my description!

  4. Your review inspired me to go to the kitchen and get a beer before coming back to write this comment.

    I wonder if New Belgium started the bikes on beer labels practice. It’s definitely a classy label and I think the bottle itself is nifty. I’ve been slowly accumulating a selection of bottles that will eventually show up on my blog. It’s a questionable criteria for selecting beer but I somehow can’t stop myself.

    If you want to learn how to employ flights of fancy in reviewing alcohol you should check out some online whisky reviews. I’ve seen comparisons to :”tarry rope / creosote” and “carbolic acid & medicinal bandages” used in all seriousness…and meant to be favourable remarks!

    • I’ve driven you to drink. Excellent!

      I had no idea there were other “bicycle beers” out there. I shall begin my hunt immediately! In a sense, I suppose this means you have driven me to drink as well. Well done.

  5. Congratulations for taking your blog into new territory. Bad timing,though, as I’ve cut way back on my beer drinking as part of a weigh management program. (If I fail to lose weight, I’ll break out the beer again!)

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