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New Belgium’s Fat Tire Overhauls Branding and Recipe After 32 Years

New Belgium Fat Tire

One of craft beer’s most iconic brands is about to look and taste a lot different after 32 years. New Belgium Brewing has announced a complete overhaul of its iconic Fat Tire brand, which includes new packaging, branding, and more importantly, a new recipe.

At its height in 2016, Fat Tire accounted for over 50% of New Belgium’s yearly production volume. However, according to Kate Bernot of Good Beer Hunting, who first reported on the story last week, since that peak, “Fat Tire has lost -52.2% of its volume in chain retail nationally”. But perhaps most indicative of the beer’s sudden decline is the fact that “total retail volumes for all New Belgium beers are +58% during that same period”. 

So while the brewery itself has benefitted from healthy market growth over the last six years, Fat Tire, which was once the clear flagship for New Belgium, has been supplanted by its hop-forward Voodoo Ranger series. 

The new version of Fat Tire, which has already begun rolling out to store shelves in select markets, is being billed as “a crisper, brighter, and even better Fat Tire” and more clearly positioned with the brewery’s dedication toward environmental stewardship. These characteristics, the brewery believes, will better connect with a more modern drinking audience.

“Folks are trending toward beer with a fresher finish and we’ve also found that’s what’s been resonating more with younger generations,” said Katie Wallace, Chief ESG Officer for New Belgium Brewing. “We’re seeing palates change and the craft beer movement has evolved with it.”

But why not just debut a new beer while also retaining the original recipe that helped launch New Belgium to become one of the biggest breweries in the country? Ultimately New Belgium is taking a calculated gamble by leveraging Fat Tire’s still sizable presence in the market with hopes that those consumers will jump on board with Fat Tire’s full-circle evolution into becoming a lifestyle brand associated with the brewer’s green initiatives.

As Wallace notes, while the Fat Tire brand has experienced a dip in the retail market, it still reaches a wide audience. In 2022, Fat Tire was the #16 selling craft beer brand, and to put that into perspective, if Fat Tire were a standalone brewery, based on 2022 sales, it would rank as the 18th largest brewery in the country.

This reimagining of Fat Tire also seems to bank on consumers’ association with Fat Tire in a broader sense as purely a gateway beer versus strictly an Amber Ale.

“Fat Tire provides entry points for people to try something new and exciting. It’s far more than just an Amber Ale and we wanted to stay true to those roots,” explained Wallace.

For those that have been paying closer attention, this narrative shift has slowly been in motion since 2017 when the Amber Ale descriptor was replaced with a more ambiguous “Belgian-Style Ale”. That same year, New Belgium also attempted to expand the brand by introducing an off-shoot in the form of Fat Tire Belgian White. Much like Firestone Walker’s 805 brand, which now includes 805 Cerveza and Sierra Nevada’s “Little Thing” series, Fat Tire Belgian White hoped to build on the reputation of a mature legacy brand by introducing new beers under that established umbrella. However, Fat Tire Belgian White only seemed to cause confusion among those that had grown accustomed to Fat Tire as an Amber Ale and the spin-off was ultimately discontinued just three years later. 

New Belgium Brewing Fat Tire Cans in River
Previous versions of Fat Tire cans

Where the new Fat Tire might stand a better chance lies in the brewery’s doubling down around the beer’s evolution into becoming a lifestyle brand. New Belgium has established itself as a leader in the field of driving green initiatives and carrying the banner for sustainability. In fact, in 2020 Fat Tire earned the distinction of becoming the first nationally distributed beer to be officially certified carbon neutral. 

Wallace notes that some of the efforts the brewery has taken to accomplish carbon neutral certification begin by holding themselves to the highest level of standards including SCS Global Certification, committing the company as a whole to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, getting all beers within their portfolio to carbon neutral certification by the year 2030, and buying offsets to help finance green initiatives such switching farmers over to regenerative agriculture to help offset any carbon emissions released.

New Belgium Fat Tire New Cans

“Getting a new brand update was really important to showcasing our focus on climate advocacy,” said Wallace. “We believe we all have a very valuable role to play with existing and new climate advocates, the future of our beer and world depend on it.”

However, even despite utilizing the same malt bill and yeast as the previous recipe, the real question still remains whether this shift in storytelling will be enough to convince longtime fans of the craft beer pioneer to explore this new look, new taste, Fat Tire.

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  1. Dennis

    I sure do hope that this doesn’t turn into another “New Coke” fiasco.

    As I am getting older, I find that I do not imbibe as often as I used to (which has never been all that much anyway). But, I am not overly resistant to change, and I’m fully willing to give it a try!

  2. Mark

    I’ve always been a fan of the OG Fat Tire, so I was worried that the new recipe would miss the mark, but I recently tried it, and it is really good! The new packaging looks great too; I hope people will give it a shot. Carbon neutral AND crushable – what’s not to love? 🙂

  3. Dale Oswalt

    As a long time customer and someone who enjoyed Fat Tire I feel the need to share my thoughts about your new formula. I don’t care for it. I started drinking Fat Tire sometime in the late 90’s and thought I had finally found my favorite brew. I just don’t like IPA’s and Fat Tire was one of the last Ale’s I could always find in the store and count on, but no more. I now have to start the long process of finding a new Ale to take the place of my former favorite. I truly feel that if you wanted to ‘Go Green’ and try to save the planet (which is good) you should have just come out with a new brew, not changed a perfectly good one! Sorry, but I’m out

  4. LG

    Dale, you are 100% correct, been drinking fat tire my fav for 20 years and the new formula is not tasty at all. So bummed! Try Dales pale ale it’s my 2nd and suppose my first now. Bye fat tire!

  5. EJW

    I’m all for a company doing what feels right to them and although I’m not a big beer drinker my husband is and what we loooved about Fat Tire’s taste…the caramel notes, aren’t quite there in this new formula. Hopefully the younger generation will love it and the rest of us can turn to those other tasty beers that quench our thirst!

  6. Fantomas

    My wife hates the new taste. It tastes like a water downed beer. Will be looking for a new craft beer.

  7. This so called new recipe for Fat Tire Beer SUCKS. It tastes watered down and leaves a bad aftertaste in your mouth. I Love fat tire amber ale and been drinking it for 2 years because of the unique amber taste. Now Im gonna have to find another favorite beer. Just an attempt to make more money by selling this watered down BS for the same price.

  8. BoB

    I hope this DOES turn into a “new Coke” fiasco. I tried the new recipe. When you have something that your customers like, don’t change it.

  9. Jake R.

    When companies turn their backs on their original clientele, they die. When they turn against what made them, they starve.

    This “new” lager tastes flat, boring, doesn’t compliment any food, and seems to be aimed at the frat crowd or pissweiser drinkers.

    I wish them luck, but it’ll take a lot to get me back.

  10. John S

    The new Fat Tire is a big disappointment. The body, taste and color that I loved is gone–replaced by a thin brew with bland taste. I had hyped Fat Tire to an out-of-town friend and looked forward to sharing with him. His reaction was not good. Nor was mine. We ended up dumping it and buying a twelve of 90 Schilling. I’m glad that there are other Colorado-brewed amber ales (think Dale’s, Avalanche, etc.) so I can continue to get my fix. New Belgium has lost me as a customer.

  11. Lee

    I agree with many of the comments that my fellow “Fat-Tire-fans” have made. I searched a long time to find “my favorite” and when I found Fat Tire Amber Ale, I thought I had reached my goal. It was everything I was looking for in a brew but unfortunately, after trying the new recipe, I’m afraid I’ll be looking elsewhere again. It was nice run while it lasted but now I’m gone.

  12. Alan

    This just gives environmentalism a bad name so ultimately it will be bad for the environment, as well as being bad for people who like amber ale. I don’t know if it will prove to be profitable – but I sure hope that it won’t.

  13. Karl

    Ick! Fat Tire has been my beer of choice for ever. Just about perfect. The new look is as bad as the new taste. Time to move on to a better beer. Sad. Wish they wouldn’t have messed with perfection.

  14. Alan Greenspan

    This is like Silicon Valley Bank. SVB had no idea what their Net Interest Margin was, but thank gawd (facetious!) they knew what their carbon footprint was.
    It doesn’t take a marketing genius to know this is not going to end well for New Belgium.

  15. Bridget

    Like many here, I don’t care for the “new” taste and am disappointed that New Belgium saw this as a good decision. Rather than alienating those customers who’ve loved the original FT, you could have made a new beer for the other customers that you hope to lure with the new flavor. Please bring back the good stuff!

  16. Joe Dusellier

    New ale has Horrible taste. What a waste of an iconic brand and brew. Bring back the classic Amber Ale please, as every distributor is telling me it’s gone for good.

  17. Tim

    Like many of the other responders, I really liked Fat Tire amber ale. It was my favorite beer. I tried the new one and don’t like it at all. It tastes thin and watery to me and lacks the robust flavor of the original. Like others, I will be looking for a new favorite beer.

  18. Don

    Ruined quite possibly the best beer I have ever had the privileged to consume… In mass quantities.

  19. Chuck

    Absolute disaster – this new beer is just a different thing altogether, moving toward the whole IPA thing… Fat Tire was a standard in our home and does pair well with many foods – especially a good steak. Just had the old and new side by side and there is NO comparison – the new recipe has no character. Hopefully New Belgium will pull out of this nosedive and bring back the original, and just re-introduce this new thing as something else…

  20. Jim

    New can looks like Miller Lite. New recipe tastes like it. Time to find a new favorite. Cany anyone recommend a good amber ale that is readily available? Carbon neutral not required.

  21. Ed Calli

    I am all in with the other. I do not like the new ALE. I went to the store and found the last 4 12 pack cans and purchased them. I rather have it in a glass bottle. I hope you bring back the original.

  22. Petewheet

    I guess it’s a red Trolley from now on. Fat Tire has been my go to, but this beer Sucks!

  23. Please! Bring back the amber ale!!! There is so little choice for the non millenial folks. This boomer is not happy to have to go in search of a new fave.


    This NEW recipe for Fat Tire Beer just SUCKS. It tastes watered down and leaves a bad aftertaste in your mouth. I Love fat tire amber ale and have been drinking it for 15 years because of the beautifully balanced hoppy/caramel flavor with NO BITTER AFTERTASTE!!!
    Just an attempt to make more money by selling this watered down BS for the same price.
    I will tell everybody I speak to about this atrocity and not to waste their money on it.
    I will find another perfect amber 12pk to consume every week or go back to brewing my own amber ale!!!

  25. Damn is this new fat tire bad! I guess alaskan amnber will have to do for my go to beer. Follow in the steps of transweiser…..

  26. Joel

    I’m out. After many years of Fat Tire Amber Ale, the taste of the new recipe just doesn’t satisfy the way the original did. Please bring back the original recipe!

  27. Jim curlander

    Hey New Belgium – you wrecked it. Fat tire has been my goto for 30 years. I just ordered it in a bar and got this bland boring tastes like everything else beer. Come on!! What a waste! Please bring back Fat Tire classic.

  28. Kriss

    Are you crazy?? What did you do to our Fat Tire beer? You have totally ruined the best beer on the market. All my favorite restaurants grocery stores and liquor stores have traded out my favorite beer for whatever that crap is that you replaced it with. Totally disappointed the new Fat Tire is the worst. Tastes like one of those cheap nasty disgusting microbrewed Cincinnati s*** beer that nobody wants to drink. Please reconsider bringing back the original Fat Tire and if you want to also sell your disgusting lager to people who don’t know any better then go ahead but you have mucho fans out here who want the original Fat Tire back, we hope that you hear us loud and clear and bring our beer back please!!

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