New Belgium hits Louisiana

3 Apr

Below is this week’s installment of The Drink featured in DIG Magazine.

Fat Tire. Just mentioning those two words to a beer lover in Louisiana will cause him or her to turn green with envy. I remember hauling cases of it back from Texas, and getting a bit excited when I saw a few random bottles in the cooler behind the bar at The Chimes back in the late ‘90s.

Beginning this week, we will once again see bottles of Fat Tire in that same cooler at The Chimes, only this time it won’t be so random. New Belgium Brewing is bringing their flagship amber ale – as well as four other brews – to bars, restaurants, and retailers all over Louisiana starting April 1.

In 1991, Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan took their little brewery commercial by sharing 22-ounce bottles of their beer with friends and neighbors. In the same manner, New Belgium will roll out five of its beers to friends and neighbors in Louisiana in similar 22-ounce bottles. You will be able to find special “Biking Into the Bayou State” edition bottles of Fat Tire, as well as bombers of Ranger IPA, Sunshine Wheat, Shift, and Trippel.

Fat Tire is New Belgium’s flagship beer and is easily its most popular. It is a Belgian-inspired amber ale that features biscuit and caramel malt flavors that are well balanced with a touch of fresh hop bitterness. This 5.2 percent ABV ale is an easy drinker, yet complex.

Ranger IPA is brewed with Cascade, Chinook, and Simcoe hops, which lend fruity, floral, and pine flavors. It is also dry hopped with Cascade for a citrusy aroma. It is pleasingly bitter, but is a sessionable IPA despite its 6.5 percent ABV.

Louisiana is the first state to receive Sunshine Wheat in an initial rollout, and in fact there are some New Belgium states that won’t even get this beer. The light bodied thirst-quencher features coriander and orange peel with almost no hop bitterness and is sure to please on a warm South Louisiana day.

Shift is a pale lager that combines a subtle hop flavor with a touch of toasted bread and sweet honey. It features a crisp and clean finish that is easy to drink and will have you coming back for more. At 5 percent ABV, you can enjoy more than one after your shift.

Finally, Trippel is a Belgian-style ale that begins with a bit of hops before making way for the fruity and warming finish. This complex beer is bottle conditioned, pours a hazy straw color, and is a sipper at 7.8 percent ABV.

According to New Belgium area manager Rusty Hancock, draft and six packs of 12-ounce bottles will be available starting May 20, as will three new beers: Rampant Imperial IPA, 1554 (a black lager), and their newest summer seasonal, Rolle Bolle, which is brewed with monk fruit and soursop.

Hancock says New Belgium is “really jazzed” to be in Louisiana, which he said is “primed and ready,” and that expansion at the brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., allowed them to enter our market ahead of the opening of their second brewery in Asheville, N.C. in 2015.

New Belgium’s entrance into Louisiana is long overdue, but they should be welcomed with open arms. Their beers should fit our culture perfectly and pair well with Creole and Cajun cuisine. Look for New Belgium beers on shelves, in bars, and at restaurants this week.

Read more about the craft beer scene in Louisiana at www.TheAleRunner.com and on Twitter @TheAleRunner.

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