Sometimes you forget just how far south Florida is compared to the rest of the United States.
I grew up inside this strange Florida bubble; unaware of how geographically far I was from my fellow American neighbors. I suppose it’s like being raised in a cult. Suddenly you notice that the other kids get to see Disney movies (or the laundry list of bands that refuse to come to Florida because it’s “inconvenient”) while you’re stuck with whatever the rest of the cult is watching.
This distance between Florida and the rest of the country hit me hard thanks to a beer: New Belgium’s Fat Tire.
On our inaugural trip to visit Mr. Doom’s father and siblings in Georgia, I found myself of age and thirsty for legal craft brews. Doom’s Daddy took the gang on a day trip to the strange manufactured German-styled mountain village of Helen, just a couple hours outside of Atlanta. It’s supposed to look like a Bavarian village in the Alps, with Helen standing in for Bavaria, and the Appalachians for the Alps. Also add some tourist-centric spots, a few pretzels and pints, and a tubing run on the Chattahoochee River for good measure.
While the wannabe-German bratwurst and Party City waitress costumes failed to impress, it was a pint of New Belgium Fat Tire that mesmerized me.
Then I discovered that this new sensation wasn’t available in the Sunshine State. (The same went for Sweetwater Brewing Company at the time, though that error has since been corrected.)
We cleared out the Fat Tire bombers at a convenience store on our way back to Florida and promised to drink them sparingly — which didn’t happen.
What it really comes down to is this: I don’t like being told what I can and cannot do.
So now, every time we visit Georgia, I stock up on Fat Tire like a crazed Black Friday Wal-Mart shopper, promising myself that this time I will ration out the bottles sparingly. We do the same thing with Utz chips when we visit D.C., but the “oh, what the hell” cravings always win. The chips don’t make it past Virginia, and the Fat Tire doesn’t last more than a week — usually because I want my Florida friends to try this beer that I never shut up about.
And then there’s the law prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays in Georgia, which never fails to bite me in the ass. More than once I’ve walked up to the display of my precious Fat Tire after traveling hundreds of miles only to find the coolers chained shut. My obsession requires a lot of time, planning, driving, and money to maintain.
But I needn’t lament my precious any longer because New Belgium has announced they are finally beginning distribution in Florida at the end of July.
“We take a measured approach to growth and didn’t want to overextend ourselves,” said New Belgium’s media man Bryan Simpson. “We went outward from Colorado one state at time, so it took us a while to get to a big and populous state like Florida. … This is our 32nd state of distribution, so we’re definitely not national yet,” he says.
Simpson says New Belgium recently added 70,000 extra barrels of capacity, allowing them to brew more beer and reach more states like Florida.
“Anecdotally, Florida has been calling the longest and asking the loudest,” Simpson says. I concur. Distribution of 22-ounce “bombers” begins July 29, with draft and 12-ounce bottles to follow a few months later. New Belgium will produce their beers closer to the Sunshine State as well, with construction now underway of an Asheville brewery slated to open in 2015.