Rhinegeist Brewery tapped for special New Belgium anniversary pack

OTR brewers do special take on Fat Tire Amber Ale

CINCINNATI -- A new collaboration between one of Cincinnati’s fastest-growing brewers and a craft beer heavyweight is set to bring national attention to the Queen City.

New Belgium Brewing -- the maker of the well-known Fat Tire Amber Ale -- picked Rhinegeist Brewery for a special collaboration project.

Rhinegeist will be one of five breweries to design a beer for a 25th anniversary 12-pack made by New Belgium.

The mixer pack celebrates the history of New Belgium’s Fat Tire ale. It also includes beers from Hopworks Urban Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company and Avery Brewing -- all premier craft brewers.

The beer will be distributed locally by Stagnaro Distributing.

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Rhinegeist’s ties to New Belgium actually go beyond the founding of the brewery.

Co-founder Bryant Goulding got to know many of his colleagues at New Belgium during his tenure at Dogfish Head Brewing.

While working on the West Coast, he became good friends of New Belgium sales manager Rich Rush. Goulding recently got a call from Rush -- who now heads up New Belgium’s East Coast sales -- to talk about a potential collaboration.

Many of New Belgium’s executives and brewery employees have visited Over-the-Rhine to tour Rhinegeist in the past couple years as well.

“We are absolutely humbeled. We are by far the youngest and smallest of the four breweries they tapped. We have a ton of respect for New Belgium,” Goulding said.

The respect goes deeper than New Belgium’s beers too. Rhinegeist managers said they are impressed with how the Colorado brewer treats its employees and how its profits get reinvested into the company.

“This is one of this things that is most important to us. Creating a cultural environment that allows our people to grow is vitally important to us in the long run,” Goulding said. “New Belgium is a brewery that has defined what building that type of culture means.”

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Courtesy of New Belgium

After some initial talks on what take the OTR brewers would like to do on Fat Tire, they hit on their Fiction Belgian Pale Ale. The brewers agreed it’s one of their most unique beers they have brewed.

“We thought, ‘What if we did a Belgian XPA but did it from the viewpoint of Fat Tire?’” Goulding said. “We thought it would be the most unique and stand out among the other breweries.”

Rhinegeist started with a malt base similar to that used to make Fat Tire, but from there they used Southern Hemisphere hops and a Belgian yeast to ferment the beer.

“It’s Belgian without having too much ester taste and it pairs wells with the hops,” Goulding said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us.”

Once brewed and finished, the beer will be bottle conditioned -- a practice that New Belgium doesn’t often do.

“The collaborations we do come in all shapes and sizes. The most exciting are when the process is shared from the beginning,” Goulding said.

There are still some steps along the way before the beer makes it to the public. Goulding said they will have to fly out for the test batch, come back again for the production run in Colorado and then head to Asheville, N.C., for the launch party.

“We’ve got a number of collaborations set for next year but this one is certainly the most humbling,” Goulding said. “I feel really honored to be in their company.”

The beer is set to debut in June 2016. The packs will feature two beers from each brewery as well as two Fat Tire bottles.

New Belgium will also sell half-barrels and 1/6th barrels of each collaboration beer for distribution.

For the latest Cincinnati beer news and entertainment, go to wcpo.com/beer or follow Jesse on Twitter at @wcpojesse.

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