If “Smokey and The Bandit” had been filmed a couple of years ago, Snowman’s semi probably would have been filled with New Belgium’s Fat Tire.
Back then, the truck driven by Jerry Reed was filled with Coors, the beer that everyone in the East coveted because we couldn’t get it on our side of the Mississippi River.
But until New Belgium started distributing in Western Pennsylvania a year ago this month, that mythical, unavailable beer we pined for would have been the rich amber ale that’s been the flagship beer of the Fort Collins, Colorado, brewery since it got started 25 years ago.
I had a chance to talk with some of the brewery’s employee-owners about how New Belgium moves into a new market; some of the considerations behind the plans were things I expected and some were surprising.
The easy part? New Belgium didn’t jump into the eastern side of the country until it had plans in place for its new production brewery in Asheville, N.C.; the extra capacity from the new brewery, which opened this year, was a solid insurance policy for a brewery moving into the Northeast for the first time.
The surprising thing? Extra capacity is great, said New Belgium brewer Willy Tarango, who visited Pittsburgh this month for a short promotional trip marking the Pittsburgh anniversary; but what if you don’t have enough viable yeast to ensure consistency in the products coming from two different breweries. How does the team of brewers at New Belgium accomplish that? Mr. Tarango explains in this week’s show.
And if the details of yeast aren’t your thing, no worries — go grab a six-pack of Fat Tire and just be thankful there was plenty to go around.