By Derek Warren | For Weekender

Tap This: Welcome to PA, New Belgium

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    New Belgium Brewing Company first opened their doors in 1991, far before the current craft beer boom truly began. Since that time though the brewery has continually grown and is now the fourth largest craft brewery in the United States.

    The brewery has also continually expanded their distribution and has gone from a mere 16 states into 2002 to now announcing that they will be in 40 states as of 2016. This growth has not been easy and has seen the Fort Collins brewery expand greatly and the brewery has also begun building a new facility located in Asheville, NC that is slated to be opened in 2016.

    However the most important information for us is New Belgium is now distributed in Pennsylvania. Our state was added in the most recent expansion and became available on August 31.

    This expansion not only brings their great core brands to the area but also some of their world-class limited release beers. As the brewery rolls out new beers to the market their extensive portfolio will be abundantly clear to craft beer drinkers throughout the area.

    New Belgium has built a reputation for brewing quality, well-balanced, and flavorful beers. This reputation has directly influenced their fast growth that they have been undertaking. Thankfully we are now able to taste all these wonderful beers in our area and here’s a short list of just some of the beers that are now available.

    Fat Tire: This is the beer but started it all for the brewery and is a very balanced Amber ale. Sweet malts find balance with subtle hops in a 5.2 percent ABV surprisingly sessionable ale. A great beer to start with when getting to know New Belgium and is a showcase for all that is to come.

    Ranger: A well balanced, easy drinking American IPA. Hops are on display but are reserved enough as to not overwhelm and instead provide the perfect amount of bitterness. While many breweries have started brewing overly aggressive IPA’s New Belgium proves that easy drinking characteristics are the best way to make any beer style shine.

    Pumpkick: It is getting to be that time of year when pumpkin beers dominate and New Belgium has a unique twist on the classic pumpkin beer style with the addition of cranberries. This gives the beer a subtle tartness but still maintains the heart and soul of a well brewed pumpkin beer. Any fan of pumpkin or fall seasonal beers will want to try this one before it’s all gone!

    Slow Ride Session IPA: At 4.5 percent ABV this session IPA still packs a wonderful hop punch and maintains its balance. The crisp quality of the hop bitterness up front in the form of citrus and tropical fruit namely orange, lemon citrus, apricot, mango and papaya come across as juicy and very thirst quenching. Not only is this beer sessionable it is mouthwateringly delicious and perfect for any night out.

    Snapshot: A tart wheat beer that seems to come across as a sessionable sour beer. The tart qualities of this beer are great for all fans of the sour beer style, but do not overwhelm and instead make this refreshing wheat beer even more invigorating. At 5 percent ABV it has a lot going on for it and is a great beer to enjoy as the seasons transition out of summer.

    No matter where you fall on the craft beer spectrum New Belgium has something for you to enjoy. So if you are a diehard that has been patiently waiting for the brewery to be available in the area your patience has been rewarded. However, if you are not familiar with New Belgium than you have got a lot of catching up to do, and by that I mean beer to drink!

    Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon every Sunday on 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.

    By Derek Warren | For Weekender

    Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon every Sunday on 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.