Any minute now I expect Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey to barge into my living room and beat me senseless followed by every other beer drinking mountain biker that reads this blog. Have I lost my mind? My taste buds? Do I need to see a doctor? Should I remove the bottle opener from my workstand? I feel guilty, like I've sinned against bike-manity. I’m a mountain biker and I can say without a doubt that I do not like Fat Tire Ale anymore.
Oh I used to. Like every other knobby tire knucklehead, I was seduced by the spritely red cruiser on the label. From the first sip off the bottle, this beer would forever be the perfect end to a perfect ride. It used to be synonymous with our trips to Colorado; partly because that’s the only place we could buy it. Aside from getting winded walking up the steps to the post office on the first day of vacationing, I used to day dream about Breckenridge. Not only because I love mountain biking on the Peaks Trail, but because I’d be able to enjoy a Fat Tire Ale from New Belgian Brewing Company on the deck overlooking the 10 Mile Range afterward.
Then, like an amber hued light from the display case, I saw the red cruiser label at the store right here in Cincinnati. Late on a warm Friday afternoon, after hastily putting away groceries, we cracked ‘em open and retreated to the rooftop deck. Happy Friday! Cheers! We knocked back the first swig. Hmm, my eyebrow rose. Like it just talked back to her, my wife gave her bottle a questioning look. Sheepishly, I asked, “Does this not taste the same as I remember?” “I was just gonna ask that,” she replied.
We got into a whole conversation about taste buds, how cells die and regenerate. We looked up taste bud stuff online. Clearly the beer couldn’t have changed. It’s a beer recipe. That’s more protected than nuclear secrets or KFC’s 13 herbs and spices. Dear God! We’re getting older and losing our Fat Tire taste buds. I knew about gray hairs and wrinkles, but this…losing the taste for my favorite beer…this is awful.
But, wait! There was a Sierra Nevada, a Guinness and a lone Magic Hat still in the fridge. For 2nd’s, she took the Sierra. I took the Magic Hat. Crack. Mmmm. Still just as tasty as ever. What’s up with the Fat Tire? Clearly if it’s not me, it’s you. So we looked it up online.
I found an answer on Beerutopia.com in an article called, “Does Fat Tire Taste Funny To You?” Yes. Yes it does taste funny Mr. Beerutopia. Not bad. Not the same either. He talked about hops, quoted an expert, and yada yada yada, concluded (allegedly...however you wanna put it) that something having to do with creating more beer to meet demand may have forced Fat Tire to reduce it’s brewing time and consequently the flavor may not be quite the same.
Whatever it is, my mountain bike universe is off axis. It needs to go back. I’ll play extra. Do whatcha need to do Fat Tire. Heck. Fat Tire used to cost me a $600 plane ticket and a $125/night condo on top of the 6 pack price. If that's what it takes, I'm completely prepared to go back to the way I used to enjoy it…with an annual mountain bike vacation to the Rockies.