It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
In the last week I visited two pubs and one brewery for the first time. Bill, I know you're thinking
"that's all"? Each of them did not offer flights. I was not a happy camper. I love tasting
everything in a brewery and every beer I've never seen before in a pub. At each place I
registered a mild protest and made a point of talking to a bartender and in one case a
manager about it. They were all very polite especially when I dropped your name. Just kidding
about that last part. Anyway, here is a summary of their general reasons why they don't do
flights: 1. Flights are annoying to serve; 2. Flights don’t let you taste enough of the beer to
really “get it”. 3. Flights encourage you to jump back and forth between beers, ruining your
The cynical part of me says their were being a bit disingenuous (except for the first reason)
but taking them at their word I still don't buy their arguments validity. Let me take their reasons
on one by one. First, off if they really believe that pouring flights is too much work (pulling a tap
handle is just sooo strenuous) then offer samples and I don't mean just a splash. At today's
prices it's foolish to commit to a full glass without knowing if you will like the beer or not.
Second, even casual beer drinkers can tell whether they like a style/beer from the amount in a
flight glass. Do they realize that prestigious industry-sanctioned beer awards are often based
on judges tasting just a few ounces?. Lastly, it might be that moving back and forth between a
brown ale, a pilsner, and an IPA diminishes the tasting experience for them but that does NOT
mean it will be that way for you. In my opinion tasting beer styles against each other helps
people learn what they like.
Believe it or not Bill, I;ve also seen places that have flights on their menu but then say they
can't do it or only serve it reluctantly. Well, if they put it on the menu who the heck are they to
tell a person not to order it? Hey wait - I'm getting riled up and running out of my allotted
space. Now I'm even more angry. Final word then - if a bar or brewery thinks it’s overwhelming
for the staff to fill 4 or 5 small glasses (which is their job) then don't offer it. And don't expect
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time!
Hello Gina -
All I can say is I don't want to be the bartender the next time he says you can't get a flight.
As I see it the main reason places put flights on a beer menu is that consumers like us expect it.
Since the bar/brewery needs customers they're downright foolish when they don't offer it.
I totally agree that it’s not “too difficult” to pour a flight. It’s not “extra work.” As you said it's the
bartender's job. To me that's no different from the waiter making sure you have finger bowls for
ribs and wings, a proper knife for steak, pepper, salt, etc. Some things simply require extra
steps. Of course all those glasses from flights can be rough on the dishwasher but if you’re
just laying out glasses on the table (none of those little board things) it’s no more work and no
more difficult than pouring a full pint. And it takes significantly less skill.
Having said all of that I also realize that pouring a flight takes more time than simply pouring a
pint so I always tip a bit extra especially if it's a busy time. I'm just a thoughtful person, Gina.
When I get a flight I taste them all on delivery. As you know Gina I always plan a tasting order. I
go through each once (maybe twice) then stick to one beer at a time after that. I think it's a
great way to learn about beers even if there are some you taste that you would never order in a
pint. I actually developed my fondness for to sours beers thanks to flights. Another plus for
flights is that they can give you an appropriate amount of something you like but don't really
don't want in a big pour. For example, if you recall when we went outlast week I didn't order a
full glass of the Imperial Russian Stout. That was because it would have been too filling but
having it in my flight glass was perfect.
Wine flights have been a thing for a long, long time and have been embraced by all levels of the
wine-producing and wine-drinking community as a good way to get an idea of the different wines
produced by a single winery or region. Same goes for whisky/ey, where many (most?) of the top
distilleries see flights as the best way to give their customers an impression of their products.
Why it shouldn’t it be the same for beer? I have been in bars that serve wine and whisky flights
but refuse to do so for beer. That's snobbery of the first order.
Gina, did you ever have a dream you were drinking a flight of Coors Light, Miller Light, Bud
Light, and Corona Light? That's what I would call a serious nightmare.
Here's looking at you Gina