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.
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.