• Sun September 09 2007
  • Posted Sep 9, 2007
By Brian Morelli Iowa City Press-Citizen A lot of people haven’t heard about it, but the ones who have al-ready checked out Fat Tire beer are pretty infatuated. “Of all the beers over the years, it’s been, ‘When can I get the Fat Tire? When can I get the Fat Tire?’” said John’s Grocery, 401 E. Market St., “bier guy” Doug Alberhasky. “It’s like the forbidden fruit. They can’t have it.” That is, they couldn’t have it. On Monday, the amber ale with the quirky label produced by New Bel-gium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colo., will make its Iowa debut. “It’s finally here,” Alberhasky said. “I am really excited about this. This is one of those beers. It’s got so much buzz to it.” The slightly hoppy, slightly malty microbrew that in the spec-trum of beers falls on the lighter side, bears a red bicycle on its label with a swollen front tire. The beer appears to have found an audience with cyclists, beer connoisseurs and college students, among oth-ers. Joel Winn works for New Bel-gium as the Iowa Beer Ranger. While Fat Tire has been sold all around Iowa in Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois for a few years, he said the reason it took a little longer to come to Iowa is mainly because it is a small employee-owned com-pany that did not want to grow be-yond its means. He said the wait will be worth it. “We are going to take Iowa by storm,” Winn said. In Iowa, beers with more than 6 percent alcohol are considered liq-uor, and must be sold to the state instead of directly to retailers. Al-berhasky said the extra steps deter some smaller companies from coming to Iowa. Alberhasky and Winn said this did not impact New Belgium’s decision not to come here sooner. One reason for the appeal is the company ethos, Winn said. “In a lot of ways, New Belgium represents a way of life for a lot of people. We are very good about what we do, but we do it with a conscience. More and more Ameri-cans are looking for that,” he said. He said values such as sustainabil-ity are high priorities for New Bel-gium. Winn said a special Iowa label that reads ‘FIGBRAI,’ or Fat Inau-gural Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, was made for the debut. The label gives a nod to RAGBRAI, or the Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. The beer will be carried at John’s, Hy-Vee and a variety of bars and restaurants. Alberhasky said the demand has been there for some time. For the first three months or so, Alberhasky said, it will only come in 22-ounce bottles before likely expanding to six packs and kegs. At John’s, the bottles will sell for $3.99, or three for $9, and cases for $32. The first delivery Monday morning will bring in 500 cases, and that could all go the first day, he said. There is a whole event sur-rounding the debut. About 250 cyclists, including one dressed as Elvis, are expected to begin meeting at 6:45 a.m. Mon-day at Old Capitol Brew Works and Public House, 525 S. Gilbert St., to deliver a ceremonial first case to John’s at 7:30 a.m. John’s will offer samples throughout the day Monday. Boar’s Head Hot Dogs of Chicago will be on hand, and there will be a “Fat Tire Cruiser” bicycle giveaway.

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