Fat Tire Torched Earth Ale is made with the kind of low-quality ingredients brewers may be forced to use in the future.

By Mike Pomranz
April 19, 2021
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One reason some people struggle to accept climate change is that the effects are often so incremental they don't see or feel the larger picture. But in honor of Earth Day on April 22, today New Belgium Brewing is giving people a chance to taste it. The Colorado-based brewery has produced a beer made with the kind of ingredients we may be forced to use in this dystopian environmental future—and as expected, the experimental brew tastes terrible.

Billed as a spinoff of New Belgium's flagship Fat Tire brand, Torched Earth Ale is made with "some of the less-than-ideal ingredients that would be available and affordable to brewers in a climate-ravaged future without aggressive action now to confront the climate crisis," the brewery explains. Specifically, that meant starting with smoked malts "to mimic the impact wildfires will have on water supply," followed by the kind of drought-resistant grains like millet and buckwheat that would be more readily available than barley. Finally, instead of their usual hops, New Belgium opted for ubiquitous dandelions along with a shelf-stable hop extract to demonstrate the kind of last-ditch and low-quality alternatives that could be substituted.

New Belgium Flat Tired Torched Earth Cans
Credit: New Belgium

The result is a beer described as a "dark starchy liquid with smokey aromatics [that] is not likely to win any awards, but does highlight the stakes of climate change for beer lovers everywhere." And yes, beer fans looking to taste this potentially unfortunate future really can buy this beer. New Belgium says it will be available starting today at their two main taproom locations in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Asheville, North Carolina, as well as online at newbelgium.com. However, the beer was produced in "super limited quantities" and will only be available until it is sold out, meaning it likely won't be around tomorrow.

Last year, Fat Tire became "America's first certified carbon neutral beer," and this purposefully poor tasting new brew is billed as a continuation of that commitment. New Belgium is now calling on its drinkers to encourage other companies to make the same promise they have: "achieve net-zero emissions across the entire company by 2030." More info about New Belgium's climate change policies and their larger call to Fortune 500 companies can be found at drinksustainably.com/lastcall.

"If you don't have a climate plan, you don't have a business plan," New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer said in the announcement. "Aggressive action to help solve the climate crisis is not only an urgent environmental and social imperative—it's also a no-brainer for companies seeking to create long-term shareholder value, compete with rivals like China, and create good-paying jobs here at home. As a medium-sized company, New Belgium can only have a medium-sized impact. We need more of the big guys to step up, too."