Time to take flight
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
If you are having a beer flight, think back to the words of Usher: drink it “Nice & Slow.”
Beer flights are a sampler’s dream, equivalent to sampling the different food items inside almost every aisle at Costco. My definition of a beer flight is flying in an airplane where no one is sober! Anyways, to be serious, a beer flight has nothing to do with planes and is about sampling numerous beers served in small glasses. The number of beers served can be four, five, six, and even more beers—it depends on the brewery.
The origins of beer flights are difficult to trace. Writer Nick Carr, in his June 2014 article about beer flights published on the Kegerator website, states that the history of beer flights is unclear and undefined: “The history of beer flighting is obscured in the past and understandably vague. Wanting to sample a brewer’s fare probably became prominent along with the increased availability of different beer styles.” Also, Karen Renzulli, in her article published on the South Jersey Beer Scene website, offers a unique interpretation of a beer flight: “A flight can also be compared to a flight of stairs. Flights are usually drunk lightest to darkest where you work your way ‘up’ in hues of [colour] as you would work your way up a flight of stairs.”
Furthermore, Clara Jaide, in her paper about beer flights published on the JustBeer website, describes the uniqueness of a beer flight: “Sometimes Beer Flights have some sort of ‘theme’ to them, where the brewer will have a select few beers on the paddle. Other times, the beers on the paddle are chosen at random.” Moreover, Chris Palizza, on the Tempesta Media website, states that a beer flight serves several purposes. Some of those range from sampling a variety of styles and types of beer, tasting the beer that you may want a pint of later—and preventing the sampler from wasting their money on a beer they do not enjoy.
Additionally, according to The Original Craft Beer Club, there are five essential pieces of advice on what not to do when ordering a beer flight. The five big no-nos are to order blindly, not tasting in sequence, drinking it quickly, ordering at the wrong time, and refusing to try a beer because it is either too light or dark. If you are having a beer flight, think back to the words of Usher: drink it “Nice & Slow.”
However, there appears to be negative overtones and stigma associated with beer flights—that they are nothing more than getting into a drunken stupor while drinking different beers. Chris Palizza dispels this myth in his aforementioned article: “Contrary to common sense, the term ‘beer flight’ does not refer to mile-high inebriation. Nor a merging of Delta and Dogfish Head. The term does not even refer to the mythic cross-country flights during which baseball great Wade Boggs would reportedly consume upwards of 70 beers.”
Nonetheless, beer flights are meant to be enjoyed and savoured. On the HomeWetBar.com website, based in Oklahoma City, OK, the company sells beer flights and tasting sets. They recommend that to enjoy a beer flight is to be cognizant, not just of the beer you are drinking—but learning to enjoy the process and not rush the experience: “Tastings are a fun [and] fascinating hobby, so it can be easy to overindulge. That’s why using our beer flights is essential for doing it right. Sampling four brews at a time are perfect because you don’t want to compare too many at once.”
Locally, with so many craft breweries in the Lower Mainland, it is difficult to choose which place has the best beer flights. From my experience, the best beer flights that I have had have been at Tap and Barrel (Coal Harbour location), Yaletown Brewing Company, Village Taphouse (West Vancouver), and Yellow Dog Brewing Company (Port Moody).
Finally, it is all about personal tastes and preferences. Every brewery that serves beer flights has its unique taste and styles. But there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting on a patio chillin’ on a hot summer day sipping a beer flight. Oh, those days cannot come soon enough! In the end, Clara Jaide offers the best reason why people should order a beer flight: “[It is] an excellent way to start figuring out what you like and dislike. It is also a great way to sample a brewery’s beers without breaking the bank.”