The hottest June week North Carolina’s seen didn’t stop thousands from pouring into downtown Durham for New Belgium’s Tour de Fat takeover. The tagline “Bikes, Beer and Bemusement” certainly does the event justice — it was entertaining, exercise-filled and family fun all packed into a five-hour Saturday afternoon.
If you somehow missed it, we’re sorry. You should’ve been there. Here’s five reasons why:
1. Exercise — You could’ve gotten healthier by peddling around the city of Durham during a casual-yet-competitive bike ride along with more than the 1,500 riders (an increase over 2014) who participated in the 11 a.m. group bike ride. New Belgium’s notorious for its bike logo and tendencies towards helping the environment; it’s only fitting to have the actual act of biking be a part of the festivities.
Bonus No. 1: the ride wasn’t THAT intense or long. Everyone planned on drinking beer after all.
Bonus No. 2: YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO BIKE HARD. During the Slow Ride, the goal is to finish last. If you were the “winner” you got a ridiculously awesome WWE-style belt with a bike on it. Trophies are for suckers anyway.
2. Charity — The 5,000 people (another boost from last year) that reveled in the sun and fun in front of the Durham Performing Arts Center helped to raise a whopping $30,000 (!) for charity. The funds raised were also up from last year, making the idea of bringing this part back to downtown Durham in 2016 a no-brainer. (Frankly it’s a wonder Raleigh hasn’t made a push to try and hold the event.)
3. Entertainment — Ever been to Lollapalooza? Or really any music festival? It’s like there’s always something going on from different directions at every single moment of the day. Such was Tour De Fat, with multiple stages set up for music acts, and myriad entertainment acts.
The picture above was taken at the same time as the picture below — multiple stages meant constant entertainment for the massive crowd.
There was also more not like you need it.
4. Family Fun — This was the most shocking part about the whole festival, and in a good way. You don’t go downtown to beer festivals and expect to see kids appropriately placed. Usually you see kids and the only reaction is a condescending head shake. Not so at Tour De Fat — I told my wife we’re flat out bringing our son next year.
There are people dressed in all kinds of weird costumes and it’s definitely an adult scene, but it felt absolutely appropriate to have children with you. For a mostly-all-day beer festival that’s really, really rare.
5. Beer — OH RIGHT. BEER. Totally forgot about that part. Considering this was a beer festival sponsored by a single brewery, New Belgium did a remarkable job highlighting a bunch of different brews and bringing some rare stuff.
The staples — Snapshot, Ranger, etc. — were all readily available both on tap and in cans. A slew of delicious, warm-weather offerings made it much more palatable to get down in the hot sun.
But there were also tap times for some special treats.
At noon New Belgium tapped La Folie, an Oat IPA, and Cocoa Mole (the last of which stayed on tap most of the day; again, warm weather). At 1 p.m. Pear Ginger was offered up to the public.
2 p.m. was a White Whale known as Carnie Blood. It’s a blood-orange saison made specifically for Tour De Fat, only poured at these events and only with one keg at a time. There were long, long lines for it.
Finally at 3 p.m. the Transatlantic Kriek was tapped. Brought — literally — across the Atlantic Ocean as part of the brewing process (along with Old Beersel of Belgium), it’s a delightfully bright, refreshing and complex high-grav sour ale.