Ask Kate About Beer: What's The Problem With Beer Flights?

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Hey Kate,

When I'm at a brewery I haven't visited before, I like to order a beer flight so I can try as many of the brewery's beers as possible. (And, I'll admit, that means I can check in more beers on Untappd.)

But a friend of mine was telling me that a lot of people think flights are stupid and that breweries are rolling their eyes behind my back when I order them. Is that true? Am I a total noob for ordering flights? I really like them but don't want to come off as a loser.


Hey Dan,

The only thing worse than people drinking beer "wrong" is the existence of people who tell people they're drinking beer wrong. Unless you're pouring beer on the floor or, I don't know, Octabonging barleywine, don't let anyone tell you not to enjoy what you're drinking.

But speaking about beer flights specifically, yeah, there are beer flight haters out there. (To remind myself of the prevailing arguments, I reread an especially ranty piece entitled Beer Flights Are Dumb And You're Dumb If You Like Them.) I'll summarize some of the main points presented there and in other treatises against flights:

  • Flights are annoying for breweries to serve
  • Flights don't let you taste enough of the beer to really "get it"
  • Flights encourage you to jump back and forth between beers, ruining your palate
  • My position is always that if you, the beer drinker, are having a positive experience at a brewery and not bothering anyone else, then why should you change what you order? If flights work for you, dude, then keep ordering them.

    But I'd also like to specifically dismantle the three anti-flight arguments above.

    • If you as a brewery think flights are too difficult for your staff to serve, then no need to offer them. Perhaps just offer sample pours so people can try a beer before they commit to a full glass.
    • Most casual beer drinkers can tell whether they like a beer after a few sips. Yes, more rigorous contemplation of a beer might require a full pour, but full-out beer judging isn't what most people came to a brewery to do. (Plus, even prestigious industry-sanctioned beer awards are often based on judges tasting just a few ounces.)
    • If you don't think moving back and forth between a brown ale, a pilsner, and an IPA diminishes the tasting experience for you, then don't let other people tell you that it does. For a lot of people, tasting beer styles against each other helps them learn what they like.
    • Long story short, if beer flights are the way you like to familiarize yourself with a brewery and figure out which beers of theirs you like best, then don't let anyone stop you. But remember, there's more to enjoying beer than just Untappd badges.