No doubt, for most of us the upcoming summer months means getting out of the house and into the sun! And if you love craft beer as much as we do, that also means you’ll be hitting up your local craft breweries or sharing your Craft Beer Club shipment with some friends.
We’re all for ordering your favorite beer at a bar, the point is to enjoy yourself, but we also are huge advocates of tasting new brews and branching out as often as you can! That leads us to beer flights. An awesome invention where an assortment of miniature glasses of craft beer arrive on some type of fun-looking wooden board tailor made for your flight of beer - usually called a paddle.
But do you know the unwritten rules or etiquette for flights of beer?
Yes, we know it’s “just beer” and in a world where rules, guidelines and proper etiquette seem to apply to everything nowadays, all we want to do is relax and enjoy the heavenly craft beer in front of us. But ironically, it also has its own set of unvoiced rules.
Here are 5 things NOT to do when confronted with a flight of craft beer, and some tips on what to do instead:
1. Order Blindly
A majority of tasting rooms and breweries have fixed flight menus that they have chosen for various reasons. It could be to highlight a few different brews of a certain beer style they have, or simply a micro tasting of their range. Whatever the reason, it bodes well to find out. You’ll not only have a better understanding of what you’ve ordered but the brewery will probably also appreciate your interest.
Some tasting rooms may have the option to create your own flight! With an option like this you can customize what you want to taste or ask for recommendations.
2. Tasting out of Sequence
After you order your flight of beer it will come out on a paddle or some type of creative board, tray, metal sculpture, etc. — personally, we thing breweries get extra points for unique presentation. But that’s neither here nor there. Now that the beer is in front of you, you’re probably inclined to pick up the one you think you’ll like best and drink that one first...right? But the key here is to pay attention to the order or sequence in which they poured your flight. It’s usually poured lightest to darkest, and no, it’s not for a cool “ambré affect”.
Lighter colored beers are usually lighter in flavor and therefore will get overpowered if drunk after the darker, heavier beers. So, moral of the story, drink from light to dark to get the most out of your flight, unless the brewery tells you otherwise.
Related: What influences beer color?
3. Chug It
This might seem obvious to some, but the point of a beer flight is to actually taste the craft beers, not to see how quickly you can drink them. So, as you make your way down the line of mini brewskis, test your palate and see if you can find a new favorite to order later as a full glass.
Additionally, just because they’re smaller than usual, doesn't mean you’re getting shorted! Beer flights are typically between 3-6oz per tasting glass, which means you’re consuming anywhere from one to two full-sized 12oz beer per tasting. Again, this depends on the size of the glasses and the number of glasses included in the flight, but it’s good to keep in mind.
4. Hold up the Line
We know it’s hard...you want to order the flight and taste a wide range of craft beers, but maybe you chose the wrong time to do it. If you’re in a busy bar and you can see the stress all over the bartender’s face, plus you have a few people in line behind you, be prepared — you might just get a few dirty looks. They might come from the bartender who’s trying to get through the line as quickly as possible or possibly from some from the people in line behind you who just wanted a pint.
Moral of the story: if you desperately want the flight of beer, try to wait for a lull at the bar. The bartender will thank you! Another option is to go in the afternoon or a bit earlier so you can beat the crowd.
5. Not try a beer because it’s too light or too dark
If a craft brewery gives you one of their beers, the least you could do is taste it! We understand that there might be something about a beer style that you just don’t like, but all beers are different. Even if you taste a Porter at one brewery and then go across the street to a different brewery, their Porters will not taste the same. We call this phenomenon a “style-within-a-style”.
It’s also one of the things we love most about our Craft Beer Club. Eventually you will get a beer style that is not to your preference. But since the craft beers we feature are the brewery’s signature brews, we highly recommend trying it anyway — you may just surprise yourself!
So, the next time you plan on going to your local craft brewery’s tasting room, you might want to keep a few of these tips in mind. Now, if only breweries had mileage plus cards, right? We’d we racking up the flight points in no time.