A congregation of wine? A bevy of beer? No. Somehow, flight has become the agreed upon term for an offering of several (sometimes many), sample-sized glasses of wine or beer that are served at the same time, presumably to one or two guests. Whatever they’re called, flights have become extremely popular in both wine bars and beer-centric establishments. While the history of wine and beer flights is long and rather murky, they remain an important part of the beverage business, especially in bars and restaurants that specialize in beverage categories which offer a lot of variety. Beer-centric bars have, indeed, been offering flights of draught beer for decades. In the days when Americans didn’t know the difference between lager and ale, the only way for guests to choose a pint was to taste most of the beers on tap.
Pricing beer flights seems to hew somewhat close to the line of charging about the same as you would for the equivalent volume of beer if served in one glass. At BXL, a Belgian specialist in New York City with two locations, they serve 13-centiliter samples (just shy of 4 ½ ounces) at $10 for three and $15 for five. Meanwhile, over at Rattle N Hum, also in New York, they’ll give you four, four-ounce samples for the same price as a pint. In other words, sell the flights at a higher cost to invite neophytes and budding beer.
You could let your guests run pell-mell all over the beer menu, but that’s not going to help anyone. You see, the guest will never have a grounding concept in mind and won’t necessarily learn anything useful. As for the bartender, a guest without a clue will inevitably be harder to get an order from.
The Old Chicago Pasta & Pizza chains features a beer flight program in which guests choose an “American Craft,” “Old World Import” or “Staff Favorite Flight” and gets four four-ounce samples. As with wine and cheese, there are many ways to categorize beer. Here are a few categories you can use to decide what kind of “tours” to offer. Place of origin: You could feature a country. Belgium comes to mind. Or, if you feature American craft beers, why not highlight the products from one state? You could chose a state other than your own and let your guests try the best beers from a state next door.
Range of flavors: take the guest’s mouth on a roller-coaster ride, and bring them from a refreshing Hefeweizen, all the way to a beastly Barley Wine. Birds of a feather: sure IPA is America’s slightly bitter girlfriend these days, but how many people have tried multiple versions at the same time? “Hop to It:” So you might go with one particular microbrew, but you could offer beers that showcase different hop strains.
So now that you what beer flights are, how to price them and perhaps even put a few together, should you? Ask yourself a few questions. Is beer a major source of revenue for you? Would you like it to be? Even more so, maybe a beer flight program could be that experience to engage your guests more fully. Last boarding call for flight 16-ounce to profitability! ·
Flight noun flīt
1. A group of beings or objects flying together
2. A series of steps between floors
3. A series of hurdles across a racetrack