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New Belgium ditches iconic Fat Tire recipe to attract younger legal consumers

New Belgium ditches iconic Fat Tire recipe to attract younger drinkers
New Belgium ditches iconic Fat Tire recipe to attract younger drinkers 02:55

Fat Tire, one of the most iconic craft beers over the past three decades, has received a complete makeover by New Belgium Brewing.

The flagship beer was first created in the basement of a Fort Collins home by the founders of New Belgium Brewing, and for the first time in 32 years, it is getting a major change to its recipe and branding.

"We spent the better part of the last two years working on this recipe refresh," said Christian Holbrook, Brew Master at New Belgium.

Fat Tire's new recipe and logo on the left, as compared to their longstanding beer and logo on the right. CBS

As breweries across the nation experience a changing market, New Belgium decided in late 2020 that the beer that made their company a household name for many consumers needed to adapt to the current market.

New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer told CBS News Colorado the company quit producing their regular recipe of Fat Tire at the end of December 2022, citing research that showed a new and lighter brew appealed to younger of-age drinkers.

"This is a demographic that has grown up with way more access to flavor, and way different types of beverages in grocery stores and convenience stores," Fechheimer said.

Years of market studies and conversations with Fat Tire enthusiasts resulted in a handful of different recipes the brewery considered. From there they narrowed it down to one which not only drinks lighter but is also a lighter gold color compared to the original amber ale.

Holbrook and Fechheimer said they considered the possibility of rolling out the new recipe without even telling the public. However, the appearance of the brew and the company's desire to be transparent with their regulars outweighed that consideration.

"We are talking about beer, right?" Holbrook said. "At the heart of beer is fun."

Holbrook said he enjoyed working with his colleagues on creating the new brew and packaging for the beer which started production at the end of 2022.

"I really like where we landed," Holbrook said.

"(We created) something that is slightly crisper, slightly brighter and slightly easier drinking. It is more in line with the palate and preferences of current 21-to-29-year-olds," Fechheimer said.

New Belgium also boasted of its ability to make the new Fat Tire the first carbon-neutral craft beer in the nation. They said the rebranding of the logo helps underscore the company's commitment to the environment, noting they also donate a portion of every barrel sold to environmental protection groups.  

Because the brewery started rolling out the new version of Fat Tire at the end of 2022 many bars and liquor stores are just now starting to receive shipments of their new Fat Tire. That means some liquor stores are currently selling the final bottles and cans of the previous recipe that exist on the market.  

While the New Belgium team said they have received nothing but positive response to their new blend, some CBS News Colorado spoke with said they still preferred the previous recipe.  

"Seeing it out in the market is hugely gratifying," Holbrook said.  

In the end, New Belgium said the taste and the overall recipe of the new Fat Tire were so close to the previous version that they felt it was best to remodel Fat Tire instead of unleashing a completely new additional brew into the market.  

"(We did this) to lighten up the body, lighten up the flavor a touch, lighten up the color as well. But, we still stay true to the roots that a lot of people know as Fat Tire," Holbrook said.  

"We think current Fat Tire drinkers will absolutely love, and we also think will help us recruit a new generation of Fat Tire drinkers and brand lovers," Fechheimer said.

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