I’ve had a lot of flights. It would be impossible to check-in on Untappd on over 6,200 beers without the ability to try a large percentage of them in the sample pours on flights.
The most common flight I find in microbreweries usually number 4-5 different beers in glasses usually around 4-5 oz. Most of the time, the breweries let you pick out the beers you want on your flight. A small number offer a pre-set flight, usually containing their standards.
Usually, the flight comes in a format that allows the server to identify each beer on the flight by either writing on the flight container itself, or they give you back the piece of paper that you wrote the requested beers on and they go in order down the flight.
Many breweries will forgo a predetermined flight size mentioned above and will simply offer 4-5oz. sample pour on any beer. I’m a big fan of this also, as it allows visitors to try as many of the breweries offerings as they like.
Some breweries have famous and one-of-a-kind flights. Pictured above is the epic 25 beer sampler from The Hideout in Grand Rapids. This one obviously is meant to be shared.
Probably my favorite flight of all time is the 18 beer flight I ordered at Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California, when my wife and I visited there back in 2014. Being one of my very favorite breweries, it was absolutely a bucket list item to be able to try all of their beers in one sitting. The sample size was smaller than most, only 2.5 oz, which made the flight manageable for me alone. (I still think it’d be better shared).
Having a unique holder, or brewery-specific glasses can be another way for breweries to make their flights stand out. There are at least three Michigan breweries that have flight paddles in the shape of the state, which I think is a brilliant idea.
Are there downsides to flights? I’ve heard from server friends that most bartenders hate having to pour flights. The reasons I was given is that they are harder and often result is less tip.
I also have craft beer friends (most of who fancy themselves as ‘purists’) who prefer full pour, believing that there’s no way to properly enjoy a beer when it’s only roughly a 4oz. sample.
I obviously have no issue with flights. Since I’ve sampled so many beers, I can usually form a solid opinion on whether a brewery know what they are doing by the time I finish the standard flight. I’m not saying it’s the most accurate way to judge a brewery, but I also still maintain that I can make a pretty fair assessment from my flight.
There are breweries, even some famous ones (Founders & Three Floyds, for example) that never offer fights. There are others, like Asheville’s Wicked Weed, that does not offer them during busy hours.
The standard 4 pour, 4 oz. flight, is about equivalent of having one beer. That’s usually my driving limit, so I’ve been fortunate enough to try multiple beers as many breweries around the country.