Heads or tails…

I had a 10-lb. bag of Weyermann’s Abbey Malt. I knew that meant I was going to brew something Belgian. I already have a stash of an amazing ever-evolving and improving Golden Tripel, so I didn’t want to make another of those just yet… and the last Dubbel I made got a little Brett in it and, although it’s not a bad beer if you like Brett, it’s not what I had in mind… No, I had to find something to brew, something Belgian but different, out-of-the-ordinary. I was at work, and began flipping through North American Clonebrews, and ended up going back and forth from page 29 to page 89 – New Belgium’s Fat Tire Ale or Flying Fish’s Belgian Dubbel. The recipes were similar, although the beers are quite distinct from each other. A good example of how a couple of minor changes in the malt, hops, process, etc. can make a very different beer.
Anyway, as I hesitated between the two, and mentally calculated what I needed to get besides the Abbey Malt, a customer came in, said hello, then walked back towards the beer cooler. Something ticked in my brain but, slow on the uptake, I didn’t realize what it was until he came back to the register with a six-pack of something local. His sweatshirt. Out of the haze of my distraction, I realized it was a New Belgium Brewing Co. sweatshirt. Well, obviously, it was a sign, right? The fates had decided, sorry Flying Fish, another time, perhaps. Fat Tire Ale, coming right up.

Fat Tire Clone
5 gallons, all grain


  • 8 lbs. Weyermann Abbey Malt
  • 1 lb. Special B malt
  • 1/2 lb. 120°L crystal malt
  • 1/2 lb. Munich malt
  • 5.4 AAU’s Northern Brewer hop pellets (1/2 oz. @10.8%aa)
  • 3 AAU’s Saaz hop pellets (1 oz. @3% aa)
  • White Labs Belgian Golden Ale yeast (WLP570)
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Crush grains. Heat 14 quarts water to 160°F. Mash in grains, hold at 150°F for 90 minutes. Heat 14 more quarts water to 170°F. Begin runoff, sparge, collect 26 quarts sweet wort. Bring to boil, add Northern Brewer hops. Boil 45 minutes, add Saaz hops. Boil 45 more minutes (90 total), remove from heat. Chill to 85°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pour wort into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment 8 – 10 days at 65 – 70°F. Rack to secondary, age 10 – 14 days. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and condition 15 – 20 days.

OG: 1062
IBU’s: 36

Notes on style: New Belgium is a very well-respected brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. Fat Tire is without a doubt their best known beer, but they make quite a range of other stuff too. It is very hard to find any of their products in the east, so when I was researching North American Clonebrews I had to commission a friend to seek some out for me on a western trip. I felt like we were doing something illegal at the time… Although it has been 10 years since I last tasted it, I remember it well. Malty, toasty, bready, full-bodied but not really sweet, Fat Tire is definitely of Belgian inspiration.