Fat Tire Oasis at DEN

One frigid February morning, I stood with freezing feet in ill-advised loafers on the slushy ramp outside of the last string of the B concourse at the relatively new Denver International Airport. It was bleak out there, amongst the Mesa Airlines Beech 1900s, as I took pictures of a preflight inspection for a training module I was writing at the time. My pal, Bill, previously one of my flight instructors and then a new captain for Mesa, wished out loud for a Fat Tire.

Ah, beer. Flash forward about 15 years. It’s about 100 degrees outside that same end of the B concourse, but I’m chilling inside at the New Belgium Hub near where the escalators descend to the last gates. It’s not often that the “express” wing of an airport offers such a great opportunity for good beer, and, as it turns out, a decent chopped chicken salad.

I had time to enjoy two imperial-sized pours, and without thinking about it I chose two relatively high-test selections. All the better to nap with on the airplane to Appleton… First up, the gorgeous Honey Orange Tripel, at 10% abv with a deep golden color. It began with honey and orange peel aromas, and a smooth sweetness with a cognac flavor on the palate. No banana, no bubble gum–lovely! It paired well with the salad’s honeyed dressing.

Next, I tried the Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. A fan of the other Voodoos I’ve had, I figured this would be like the original–but more. I was correct. Very hoppy hoppiness all around, with resinous aromas carrying a touch of citrus. On the palate, mingled citrus peel bitters. 9% abv, with 70 IBU.

I contemplated the airplanes on the ramp over my hour-and-a-half layover, and thought, if only I could see the mountains from here, all would be right.