Ok. Let’s begin with a co-founding member of our FliteBrite team, Ethan Davidson.
Along with Ben, Ethan has been a part of this idea of serving a brighter flight of beer from the very beginning. Let’s rewind and get to know Ethan. Although a marketing degree from the University of Iowa was his initial idea for a career in school, Ethan would graduate and actually jump into high-end carbon fiber manufacturing.
How many folks do you know who helped build the world’s most aerodynamic triathlon bicycle, haha! Ethan had the opportunity to expand a team building these crazy fast triathlon bicycles called Dimond bikes. As he tuned his skills in team building and the advanced world of manufacturing, Ethan also plugged into the Des Moines startup community by jumping into one of the organizer roles for 1 Million Cups Des Moines back in 2013.
Ethan is fun to be around, likes to say yes to adventure and has great stories to enjoy over happy hour. If you are with him, please snag a quick beer flight for him. Ethan enjoys a good time and understands how big this product can be for so many.
As we built ideas into our electronic serving system, Ethan would make a job shift from the bike manufacturing world and join a new team focused on plastic manufacturing. BeraTek Industries was creating some slick products in a variety of industries and kept growing as a company. In fact, this is the Iowa-based team we had just selected to refine our product for the craft beer market!
So imagine that. The co-founder of your company, who’s unique expertise is a part of our detailed-oriented manufacturing process, creates an opportunity to join the team who is about to help us ship our first round of pre-orders! Ethan continues to keep the team realistic as we prepared for our nationwide product launch.
This transition also brought a renewed energy for innovating with fresh ideas. With this smart beer flight paddle about to change the craft beer game, Ethan has keep the focus on ensuring our beer paddle are ready to stand up to what can be a brutal world behind the bar. Ethan loves breweries and a beer flight any day, but he also plays soccer, basketball and is probably more athletic than you, haha!
So along with staying focused on bringing our beer flight paddle to life, Ethan’s job transition to Baratek also spawned a neat opportunity for Ethan to move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Although it’s been a challenging transition and we’ll miss him in Des Moines, Ethan and his wife Sarah are excited to bring FliteBrite to our friends in Cedar Rapids and all of Eastern Iowa. We’re thankful to have ETHANergy on this team and his effort to evolve our product’s real-world durability.
Looking ahead, Ethan may be at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington DC with FliteBrite next year and is always down for coffee of happy hour chats. If you do connect over happy hour, Ethan likes IPA brews, but is down for anything when pairing beer flights. Throw in a pale ale, then a brown ale, completed with one of his choices. Naturally, be sure to only enjoy this beer flight with a pair of our smart flight paddles and ask Ethan to play badminton, ping pong, soccer or basketball to make yourself feel out of shape, haha!
In fact, why wait? Hit him up with an email through our contact form. He’ll be happy to share the story of FliteBrite and hook you up with some paddles starting Fall 2016.
When you talk business startups, it’s often said that team comes first, and then an idea with the market it will impact. The team at FliteBrite is complimentary in a crazy sort of way and we’re lucky to have some of the top talent around working together to bring FliteBrite to life.
One of the team’s latest little side ideas was to all listen to an audiobook by Seth Godin, called We Are All Weird. Ben has listened to many of his audiobooks, such The Icarus Deception and Tribes, and seems to swear by Godin’s writings. Anyways, it was an easy file exchange and has inspired the title and slightly off-topic nature of this short story.
Ok. So as you listen and learn from Seth, one interesting connection we’ve noticed is that the friendly craft beer community, is absolutely full of fun people who enjoy being weird. Not an alienating type of weird, but a weird that challenged the status quo and what it means to be normal. Normal is boring. People want weird.
No longer are we the mass crowd all drinking the same lagers. In fact, it’s almost like the funkier someone can brew up a great craft beer, the more we all appreciate the effort and that’s so cool!
From homebrewers to the biggest breweries in town, it feels like everyone who is passionate about the beer they brew, has made a choice to break loose from the status quo. Like so much of our world in the connected era, choice is everywhere, attention is almost like a currency and tribes grow faster with so much available communication online. It’s more interesting choosing to be weird. Being weird means you’re choosing to challenge the status quo in whatever way that may be. It’s more interesting to make your passion something that also results in a paycheck, and we’re sure you enjoy working with your team who can also be supported through your leadership.
The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass, and the never ceasing tide of weird.#WeAreAllWeird
— Ben McDougal (@BENovator) August 25, 2016
To stand out and to have more people talking more often, and more in tune with the beer and brands you create. The craft beer community has definitely been one of the very best parts of building FliteBrite and we know many of you are in the restaurant, brewpub or bar scene. It’s fun, haha! It’s also challenging and modern breweries are not a small investment to start or easy to run. It takes a true commitment to bring a decent sized, profitable brewery to town. Even more resources and expertise can be required if you choose to tap into the opportunity of distributing your craft beer in cans or bottles. In short, the craft beer industry is a growing industry where owners and management must stay smart to survive, but stay ahead to thrive.
Fortunately, many of these folks are going big and everyone loves it all. Serving craft beer is almost a stacked bet if you’re passionate about your business. People don’t ever seem disappointed with too much choice when it comes to craft beer and they’ll keep coming back as you expand the options you serve on your tap line! Why not get weird, creative and have fun with your brews on tap! The best part? You’ll generate more intrigue (and profits) as you also serve more beer flights on smart paddles that make you the absolute talk of the town.
— Ben McDougal (@BENovator) August 25, 2016
You’ve brewed a taste unlike any other and for the first time, your thoughtful brand, creative names and quick features of all your brews can now be truly connected to the beer lovers you create. People have never seen anything like FliteBrite! They’ll remember you being weird and also unlock a new level of connected loyalty towards your brand.
Yes, leasing a collection of smart paddles costs a bit more than paper and pencil or messy chalkboards, but these things sell more beer, make you look awesome, generate valuable data and introduce a new level of customer engagement. Whether you’re the owner, head brewer, marketing guru, management of bartending staff, you’ll see your brand being represented the way you want through the interactivity of a beer flight, while helping to support a more connected, entertaining and even educational beer flight experience.
FliteBrite is proud to be building our technology within the craft beer community and are having fun connecting with establishments throughout the country, who are all ready for the future of beer flights. Let’s chat about you bringing some fresh weird into your establishment today! Let us know how many paddles you want on our order form here: http://www.FliteBrite.com/pre-order/
The craft beer industry has evolved and so has the way we enjoy our favorite beers. Let’s turn back the hands of time to discover how beer flights have evolved.
Alright, we’re not going to rewind to the beginning of time, but back in the 1800’s, everyone in the United States basically brewed their own beer. Made of really only water, barley, hops and yeast, beer has always been easy to come by. Even with early homebrewers and numerous breweries throughout the United States, a less connected world, poor distribution methods and the lack of technology kept beer primitive and limited an individual’s access to what we consider a beer flight. Our beer-loving ancestors surely enjoyed some form of beer tastings before the days of prohibition, but let’s be honest, it was probably warm beer and served by guys like this, haha!
Prohibition ended in 1933 and macrobreweries ruled the world until around 1980. Beer in the United States was predominantly light lagers and only produced by a handful of these large breweries. In fact, by the end of 1980, there were less than 100 breweries and industry experts predicted there would only be five brewing companies in the United States. Sadly, without any meaningful variety during this dark age of beer, there was still no need for beer flights.
Homebrewers inspired the modern craft beer industry. In fact, even today, many head brewmasters learn their craft from small batch experimentation. With homebrewing naturally leading to an increase in more diverse beers, more variety of beers began to surface. This led to a true renaissance within the craft beer industry between 1980 and 2000. According to the Brewers Association, the number of craft brewers in the United States went from eight in 1980, to 284 in 1990, and would push past 1,500 craft breweries by the year 2000!
Although the expanding craft beer industry was still dominated by macrobreweries, the modern beer flight emerged during this age of exploration. Consumers were being offered more beer choices from local breweries, which created an organic desire to sample craft beers together.
It took around 10 more years for craft beer to become truly mainstream, but by 2011, the United State surpasses 2,000 breweries and that’s when things really started to take off. Only two years later, that US brewery count would expand to over 3,000 and in 2016, it has boiled up to over 4,000 craft breweries nationwide with no signs of slowing down.
As the expansion of craft beer has evolved, so has the progression of beer itself. With what seems like a limitless combination of styles, flavors, colors and taste, the growing craft brew industry has naturally fueled consumer’s interest in beer flights. Whether it’s to sample all that a brewmaster has to offer or tapping into the simple joy of pairing craft beers together, the beer flight has become a key offering in taprooms, brewpubs, microbreweries and restaurants.
Even with the rise in beer flight popularity, the method for serving these tasty samplers have remained archaic. Yes, wooden paddles or metal holders still look cool and allow safe beer flight transportation, but how are customers able to identify which beer is which? Wet receipts, handwritten scribbles and messy chalkboards do allow us to share beer titles, but even if accurate beer information is present, there’s so much more to craft beers and perhaps more importantly, the customer connection is immediately cut the moment they leave! In a time where everything is connected and a world of information is at everyone’s fingertips, have we not come to expect more from our beer flight paddles?
We live in a connected era. The Internet has brought us all together and The Internet of Things has us connected to the things we love. Whether it’s how you call for a safe ride home or the smart home itself, your smartphone connects you to what’s important in life. We love great beer, right? Well isn’t it time the beer flight evolved to be more intelligent too?
Smart beer flight paddles are the future and you’re in the right place, because the future is now with FliteBrite. Brewery owners, taproom managers and restaurant professionals now have the ability to showcase accurate beer flight details while connecting with more engaged, tech savvy, craft beer loving customers. Interactive touchscreens, wireless technology and supporting mobile apps are unlocking a new era of smart beer flights.
The value of serving brighter beer flights does not end with just a boost in educational entertainment at craft breweries, brewpubs and restaurants. The Big Data behind each beer flight also allows owners to track meaningful analytics behind their beer flight activity and perhaps most important of all, become more connected with happy customers long after they return the beer paddles.
The beer nerds at FliteBrite invite you to the future of beer flights.
Let’s talk about bringing smart beer paddles your way this week.
With craft beer everywhere, more breweries, restaurants and bars are serving a wider variety of beers on tap. Some have more beer taps than others, but when establishments cater to their thirsty customer’s desire with an expanded variety of craft beers, they often experience a boost in customer engagement, increased loyalty and in the end, an opportunity to sell more beer.
Whether an establishment offers 10 or 100+ beers on tap, showcasing the assortment of brews on tap is key. Beer flights are the best way to do this, so let’s consider the value of beer flights.
Does your brewery team have a taproom serving your own craft brews? Perhaps you’re a restaurant or bar serving the latest favorites from breweries nationwide? Either way, it’s fun offering people great new beers to try. This keeps your establishment fresh and introducing new craft beers to friends is fun! If you’re the one their buying beer flights from, even better, eh! Beer flights offer the interactive activity of featuring more beers all at once. The smaller flight quantity is usually around two full pint glasses worth of beer, so it’s not overwhelming for newcomers, while still providing enough awesome beer (and a more enjoyable beer tasting experience) to beer-loving enthusiasts.
Whether it’s the newcomer casually enjoying the beer tasting or people who are ready to check-in their next favorite beer on an app like Untappd, part of the fun people have with beer flights is the opportunity to learn a little about something they enjoy. Craft beer is now just as sophisticated as wine and we have connoisseurs who love the craft beer community a lot. It’s a fun place to be and entertaining to say the least. Providing a great time and now a new way to entertain patrons with an interactive, almost gamified beer flight experience.
SIDE NOTE: This story is written as general industry insight, but we have found FliteBrite, so let’s just be honest. People will love you for bringing our smart flights to your brewery, restaurant or bar. Our entertaining and super functional flight paddles will make you the talk of the town!
Contact us to hook up an easy one-year lease that has no upfront costs and is less than the price of a pint or two per month! Learn more at www.FliteBrite.com/pre-order.
You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy beer. Like anything, when a group of people enjoy a common thing together, community is formed. Within any community, folks often enjoy knowing more about what other community members enjoy. This builds “social currency” and makes you more interesting. In this case, it’s the expanding craft beer community. This craft beer community is made of fun, friendly, smart and collaborative people who like tasting a variety of beers, tasting how styles compare and even learning how craft beer is made. Being an enthusiast about anything is one of life’s simple gifts. Like any knowledge, many folks are most interested in interesting, helpful and resource-saving tips. Why share all this philosophical mojo? Smart beer flights fuel a more informed beer enthusiast. Newcomers will begin getting more interested, The casual enthusiast starts tracking their favorites and the beer experts continue to lead the way. At all levels of engagement, customers will convert to friendly fans who come to your place for the best beer flight. This results in more sales. Do you like making more money? Supporting all levels of beer enthusiasm can be great for any sized brewery or restaurant. Think of serving beer flights like a simple and fun way to tighten the craft beer-loving tribe worldwide.
Time and money are required to keep anyone’s doors open in the food and beverage industry. Owners keep an eye on the budget and every dollar counts. One of the most obvious values of beer flights is that they add another level to your menu and are so easy to implement. If you have beer on tap, all you need to get started is a small collection of beer flight glasses, a quick add in your POS system and a way to serve the beer flights to customers. Beer flights can vary in price points, but most four-glass beer flights range between $10-$20. Yes, it takes a few more seconds to pour a flight compared to one pint glass, but doesn’t an added revenue source that leads to more beer pints a easy way to provide more options and make more sales.
The flip side of the coin is if you’re not currently serving beer flights. If a customer visits your bar and isn’t quite sure on what they want, many times the friendly bartender offers free sample tastings. This is how it should be done and we’re not talking about much, but at the core, this is lost beer. As we all know, sometimes it may take a few more free samples until the customer selects a full glass! To reduce free samples while still being awesome with costumers, introduce the beer flight as your offering the first free sample. This will encourage the customer to either choose a full glass or go straight into a more involved and revenue-generating flight.
When you consider the resources required to build a brewery or restaurant, time can be one of the most fundamentally valuable assets you need. Money supports what you want to spend your time on and anyone in the industry knows that the passion required for building any business takes passion and an unmatched time commitment. If your entire team is properly efficient, the more time you’re selling product, the more revenue is made on a daily basis. More revenue gives your business options, so even if it’s the time your bartenders are spending serving each order, time is money and saving it is sweet. Think about the time you’ll save when you start serving smart beer flights with FliteBrite. People can engage more with the beer and your establishment even when you’re not around. You can also avoid wasting time when your staff waits on indecisive customers who aren’t quite ready to commit to a full glass. Serve a quick beer flight and you’ll convert time-wasting “ummmmmms” into a quick opportunity to pitch the smart beer flight that will lead to favorites and a more confident order. Efficiency improves and the enlightened customer loves you for serving them options that lead to a great beer they’ll love you for.
The value of beer flights is clear. If you’re the investor type, we’d call this a beer flight’s valuation. Beer flights provide a more diverse way of featuring great beers while engaging more enthusiast customers. If you plug into FliteBrite’s electronic serving system, your smart beer flights will unlock a new level of entertaining, educating, revenue-boosting and time-saving ways to serve the most exciting beer flights around. Let’s do this.
Let’s begin by noting there is no absolute correct way to enjoy a craft beer flight, haha! With that disclaimer outta the way, let’s look at a few fun ways to mix things up.
One of the most iconic ways to enjoy a beer flight is by pairing beers in a way that has their colors going from light to dark. Similar to wine flights, this can be a good way to start with a nice light taste and work towards something a bit more complex. If flights are served in the taproom or restaurant, ask your friendly bartender to whip up a beer flight based on color to enjoy a great overall variety of craft beer.
Perhaps it’s a flight of only light, fresh beers on a hot summer day? Maybe it’s a collection of brown and amber ales for the Fall or even dark stouts and porters when the snow flies. Creating a beer flight made up of only your favorite style or type of beer can be a great time and fun to share with friends. You may also consider trying a beer flight of the most hoppy brews on tap. If this is something you wanna try, look for high IBU levels of somewhere around 40+ IBUs and enjoy the different scents of fresh hops.
We have craft beers for any occasion. Mixing up some seasonal beers into a flight creates a fun way to celebrate the season with family and friends. Anyone do flights at the home bar? Maybe that might be fun this holiday season!
If money isn’t an issue, try pairing your next beer flight by how much each beer costs. Lighter beers often cost less, while the beers with more ingredients or a more involved process (like barrel aging) reflect a higher price point. Whether it’s moving from cheap to pricey on your flight or pairing the most expensive beers on a menu, this can be an interesting way to learn why different beers are priced differently and help you determine the general range you like best.
If you drink a lot of beer, you know the value of great taste in a less alcoholic beer, but it can be fun to bring in the big guns once in awhile too. If you’re feeling frisky, try pairing beers that range in their ABV level. On average, the ABV for beer is 5%, but did you know the highest ABV in beer is 67.5%?! In comparison, the average ABV of wine is 11% and liquor is 37%. Try pairing your next flight from lowest to highest or ask to have all the lowest (or highest) ABVs all on one sampler.
When you’re at a restaurant and they have a collection of different breweries represented on tap, a great beer flight pairing can be a selection of four beers from a single brewery. It’s a quick way to taste the latest from a place you may start to like.
A beer flight doesn’t always have to lead you to a full pint! If you find a favorite on your first beer sampler, try having two of the flight glasses filled with that same beer you liked best, then add two new beers to complete a fun follow-up flight that includes your favorite, but still has a few new ones to keep things interesting.
Don’t feel obligated to get all new beers when enjoying your next beer flight. Including a favorite with any flight is an easy way to get you off to a good start, while providing a quick baseline as you explore new beers in your next sampler.
Good luck and have fun pairing your next creative beer flight. We hope you’ve enjoyed these fun ways to mix things up and we’d love to see you share a photo of your next beer flight on the FliteBrite Instagram channel or @FliteBrite on Twitter with the hashtag #SmartFlights.
A beer flight is an assortment of craft beers, often four; served together in small beer flight glasses.
There are 16 ounces in your full pint glass, so the beer flight is a fun way for customers to try different brews in smaller, 5-7oz. beer flight glasses. Ordering a variety of well-paired brews is one of the best ways to enjoy craft beer.
With craft beer unstoppable and beer flights being served almost everywhere, it’s crazy to consider the prehistoric way beer flights are actually served. In fact, think back to the last time you were served a flight of beer and how quickly you forgot which beer is which!
Some establishments provide hand-scratched titles for each beer, but this can be confusing, messy and wasteful. Beyond that, how can customers learn more about the beers in their flight, track their favorites and stay connected after they leave the taproom or restaurant?
The method to which beer flights are served has been overlooked and represents a missed opportunity, until now.
The age of serving blind beer flights will soon be over.
Smart flight paddles now allow the modern customer to easily enjoy entertaining education while tapping into more connectivity with the craft beer, breweries and restaurants they enjoy.
With accurate beer titles, interesting details and the ability to share the beer flight experience throughout social media, the evolved beer flight has become a more dynamic, engaging and enjoyable experience for all.
The Craft Brewers Conference was absolutely huge in 2016.
Brewery owners, taproom managers, restaurant owners, franchisors, vendors and craft beer enthusiast all came together for one of the largest craft beer gatherings in the world. It was an absolute pleasure being a part of this annual event and strategically sharing our innovative beer flight paddles with the industry. Check out the Brewers Association’s CBC16 recap, then enjoy our fun little recap on what went down in Philly.
One day after this Tweet dropped, we had the opportunity to tour three different Philadelphia breweries and one great spot in New Jersey. The craft beer flowed as we started at the St. Benjamin Brewing Company taproom. After an interesting tour, it was neat to fire up the week with how much the team at this taproom loved our smart beer flight paddles.
After a few beer flights and more conversation that has us excited to collaborate with this brewery, we cruised over to the Double Nickel tasting room in New Jersey. This is an example of a brewery that’s going big from the very beginning. They have a large brewing system, a great tasting room and are already starting to distribute their brews in cans all around the region. One interesting thing we learned about was how the state of New Jersey has certain educational requirements for taproom visitors. In short, if only craft beer is served, the establishment must provide an educational experience for visitors wanting to enjoy craft beer in tasting rooms. It’s an odd law, but the organic education that FliteBrite provides made it clear that our beer paddles solve real problems for New Jersey craft beer establishments. After a great time in New Jersey, we finished our tour at Bar Hygge and the Dock Street Brewery. This was a great time and a neat chance to build relationships with a few east coast breweries.
After recovering from a full night of brewery tours, it was time to get CBC underway. After eating our first cheesesteak and checking in at the venue, we stopped by the Orchestrated Beer gathering at Strangelove’s before heading to the CBC opening party. The opening event was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This place includes the stairs that Rocky ran up in those epic movies. Needless to say, there were a lot of people having fun posing with The Italian Stallion. After a fun chat with Ballast Point and talking with industry allies at this massive party, we hit the Sierra Nevada after-party to sample their Beer Camp project for the first time. Beer Camp is the ultimate example of breweries collaborating, so it was a perfect way to finish a great day.
The first full day of #CBC16 did not disappoint. Along with a few educational sessions, we spent most of the time interacting with everyone on the massive trade show floor. Our team decided that this was not the time to formally unveil our technology with a vendor booth on the show floor, but this was still a great opportunity to see what types of vendors attend this event and how to best interact this this exploding industry and within the craft brewing community.
After an entire day on the show floor, things got interesting. Our team is actively involved within the startup community, so with Philly Tech Week going on while we were in town, we had a neat opportunity to sneak away from the craft beer world to attend the Philly Startup Leaders community-driven event, Entrepreneur Expo, which turned out to be packed full of awesome entrepreneurs. After engaging with tons of amazing entrepreneurs, we cruised across town for the #IowaBeerSocial hosted at Devil’s Den and the Lagunitas after-party. Celebrating with all our friends from the Iowa craft beer community was definitely a highlight and with the brewmaster from Firetrucker Brewing celebrating his birthday, this turned into a night full of fun and tons of amazing brews.
The aggressive Wednesday night led to a slow start on Thursday, but we made our way to the Philadelphia Convention Center to finish exploring the Craft Brewers Conference. The show floor was so massive, it literally took two days to walk, so we had another great day interacting with vendors and sharing our electronic serving system with a few more craft brewing professionals. Even with a 5AM flight home the next morning, we still enjoyed dinner with leaders of the Philadelphia startup community and went up in the One Liberty Observation Deck to finish this adventure 54 stories above the city of Philadelphia.
#CBC16 was obviously terrific. Along with enjoying a crazy amount of craft beer and having an absolute blast, we also met tons of amazing new friends and had all sorts of meaningful interest in FliteBrite. This was the perfect way to “soft launch” our craft beer flight paddles and our team haw already starting filling pre-orders from breweries throughout the country. In fact, it’s neat to know that CBC lead to our first customer! The Waiki Brewing Company is serving great craft beer in Hawaii and we met at the Craft Brewers Conference.
We continue to accept pre-orders with plans to ship our first round of paddles nationwide this fall. Our crazy first experience with the Craft Brewers Conference was epic and you know our crew is already planning big things for CBC 2017 in Washington DC. Here we come friends.
The team at FliteBrite has been in the lab building something we believe will change how craft breweries, restaurants and bars connect with their customers and we are heading to Philadelphia to unveil FliteBrite to the world at The 2016 Craft Brewers Conference in May!
During this soft launch at #CBC16, we’ll be offering deep discounts to early adopters and look forward to establishing industry allies from around the world. Along with learning a ton, we are formally unlocking the ability to pre-order your beer flight paddles at #CBC16! We’re also excited to be a part of the #IowaBeerSocial and all the crazy after parties throughout Philly. Although the hangovers will be nothing short of epic, the nationwide connections will be outstanding.
Wait! There’s more…
As if it was our destiny, Philly Tech Week 2016 is also going down while we’re in town! As entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts and community builders, it will be a treat to also connect within the Philly startup community. One event we’re already excited about is the #PSLExpo, presented by Philly Startup Leaders. We’ll be on the prowl for other chances to plug into #PTW16 and can’t imagine a better blend of two events for the moment we share FliteBrite with the world.