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Do flights fairly reflect a beers quality?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by wesbray, Jan 31, 2013.


Do flights fairly reflect a beers quality?

  1. Yes

    66 vote(s)
  2. No

    38 vote(s)
  3. Sometimes

    59 vote(s)
  1. mecummins

    mecummins Savant (425) Illinois Nov 16, 2012

    I think a 4oz is plenty to get the feel for a beer as long as it's a style that I'm used to. If it's something that I haven't been widely exposed to in the past, for me that would be sours or fruit beers, I would need more time and experience to adequately judge the beer.
    beerloserLI likes this.
  2. MLucky

    MLucky Savant (400) California Jul 31, 2010

    I don’t think it does. I think you need a full size serving, whatever that may be for the style. Part of what makes a beer great is that it’s got enough going on so that it remains interesting as you drink the full pint (or whatever), but not so overwhelming that it becomes obnoxious or cloying with repeated exposure. A 2 oz taste will give you an initial impression (which can be valuable), but it’s not giving you the full picture.
    This is probably less true of really big barleywines and whatnot that are generally served in small portions and meant to be drank almost like scotch. But I think it’s very true of more sessionable styles that are meant to be consumed 2-3 pints at a time (or more!). I imagine there are people out there who could define just how good an English pale or a German pils after 2 oz, but for me, the real test of those styles is whether the beer is still interesting after you’ve had a liter. Or two.
    herrburgess likes this.
  3. "A fine beer may be judged with one sip, but it is better to be thoroughly sure." Czech proverb.
  4. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poobah (1,065) Wisconsin Nov 16, 2012 Beer Trader

    I really think you need a bit more than one or two swallows to properly judge the character of a beer. Flavours change or evolve as they warm up, and the last swallow can be different than the first. It takes time and if we're judging a beer, you should judge it as you'd normally drink it. Otherwise if you're just ticking, then just tick it and move on but don't confuse it for actual reviewing/judging.
  5. smakawhat

    smakawhat Poobah (1,310) Maryland Mar 18, 2008 Subscriber

    I always love the happy medium. I really enjoy the places that will serve half pints (8oz.), it's the perfect middle ground for enjoyment and variety.
  6. Most tasters I get are 4 to 6 oz. each. I am not an expert judge at a beer competition, but I think I get enough of the beer to write a review after I finish the taster glass.
  7. it makes plenty of sense lol

    IPAs dont have big unique flavors. they taste like hops. the balance and nuance take more than a sample to judge accurately against other good IPAs.
  8. CyPotter

    CyPotter Aficionado (200) Colorado Mar 1, 2008 Beer Trader

    I don't mind judging a beer on 4 oz pours, but I do mind it when I get more than 3 or 4 of them at once and expect the last few to taste right temp-wise...I always prefer a flight come out slowly instead of all at once.
  9. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Advocate (730) Colorado Dec 9, 2011 Beer Trader

    Whew. Now THAT'S a tough choice.
  10. wesbray

    wesbray Advocate (550) Alberta (Canada) Feb 29, 2012 Beer Trader

    Hmm a lot of different opinions here! Thinking i'll probably just try to get half pints for the most part during my road trip. Do most US bars and brewpubs offer that?
  11. In my experience, no. Doesn't hurt to ask though.
  12. HumphreyLee

    HumphreyLee Advocate (520) Pennsylvania Jan 15, 2011 Subscriber

    Given what I've gotten out of beer in the past couple years, I need a little bit more than four ounces to fully form an opinion, but I would say 90% of the time the impression I get in 4 ounces is pretty accurate. Most of the time I pour myself a bottle and spend the next half hour to forty-five minutes drinking it up as it starts to warm to see if any flavors open up as this happens. Except with IPAs though. I usually know how I feel about these within a few ounces and, honestly, I've yet to have one that didn't just taste super bitter once it's warmed a little. I try and drink them as cool as possible.
  13. I've never received any head on any beer in a flight.

  14. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Champion (875) Michigan May 30, 2005 Subscriber

    Good one!! But I have to ask: are you Czech? ;)
  15. Heritage is German.
  16. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Champion (875) Michigan May 30, 2005 Subscriber

    Okay, so you didn't make up that proverb. ;)
  17. Spaceloaf

    Spaceloaf Aficionado (235) Oregon Nov 27, 2008

    I think it really depends on the beer.

    For example, Block 15's Demon's Farm has a level of funk that could be classified as assault (on your tongue). Unless you are very acclimated to Brett you will probably hate it in 4oz. But the longer you drink it the better it gets as your tongue gets used to the flavor.

    Meanwhile, something like FBS is very obvious. Either you like coffee and you'll like FBS or you don't and you won't.

    IMHO, just to level the playing field all judging should be done on at least 12oz servings because that is how most beer is intended to be served. Maybe flavors will reveal themselves or maybe they won't, but at least you gave it a fair chance.

    With that being said, I order tasters on occasion because I'm neither a ticker nor a judge. Usually it's because it's not something I'll be able to get regularly anyway so I'm just trying to experience as much as possible regardless of whether it's ideal.
  18. Domingo

    Domingo Poobah (1,145) Colorado Apr 23, 2005 Subscriber Beer Trader

    Depends on how you approach them. The main thing it doesn't account for is drinkability. I can't tell you how many times I've really enjoyed the first few sips of something and then gotten bored or irritated by something that wasn't immediately discernible.
    herrburgess likes this.
  19. wesbray

    wesbray Advocate (550) Alberta (Canada) Feb 29, 2012 Beer Trader

    I can't imagine getting a huge amount of enjoyment from having 4oz tasters though (regardless of being able to judge it).
  20. brewmudgeon

    brewmudgeon Savant (410) Wisconsin Jun 26, 2007

    Absolutely not. This is the reason wine ratings are notorioiusly unreliable. Small samples are simply not enough as they do not accurately reflect how even a highly trained palate will react after substantial experience. A six pack (spread over several sessions) might do it, but twelve would be better. If you want to know how you really feel about a beer, you need to live with it for a while. Ratings/judgments based on small samples are mainly good for knowing how you feel about a beer when taken in small amounts under specific circumstances.
  21. wesbray

    wesbray Advocate (550) Alberta (Canada) Feb 29, 2012 Beer Trader

    I get your point, but in my situation, where i'm only going to be in the US for two weeks, drinking 12 packs of each beer I want to try probably isn't going to happen (as much as I would like it to). And that isn't even accounting for anything draft-only.
  22. wesbray

    wesbray Advocate (550) Alberta (Canada) Feb 29, 2012 Beer Trader

    I guess the real question is how many of you would buy samples/flights when visiting a brewpub or brewery?
  23. shand

    shand Advocate (705) Florida Jul 13, 2010 Beer Trader

    Generally, I'd consider four ounces to be the absolute minimum required to "get to know" a beer, and this would generally be for a higher ABV bruiser of a beer. A more subtle beer often requires a larger serving to discover it's nuances.
  24. brewmudgeon

    brewmudgeon Savant (410) Wisconsin Jun 26, 2007

    Truly a luxurious dilemma with which I can empathize. Unfortunately, contrary to the large number of confident "I can judge any beer with a few ounces" types on BA, my experience tells me that, apart from lousy beers you would never want to finish, it is practically impossible to learn all you would want to know about a beer/wine/spirit and form a reliable judgment about it from one small serving. I suspect many of the tickers on here do not realize that because they so rarely return with any significant frequency to the beers they have ticked. And of course there might be exceptional people whose perceptions never change over time and with varying contexts, but if they exist their numbers must be quite small.

    Have you never tried a beer and thought, "this is one I could drink forever" only to buy a case and find yourself struggling through many of them, finally offering them to strangers, making bad beer bread with them and pouring the last few over your girlfriend in the shower or some such nonsense?
  25. n2185

    n2185 Advocate (715) North Carolina Apr 14, 2008 Beer Trader

    I completely disagree. There are many beers that are so boozy, sweet, hoppy, sour, etc. that they really shouldn't be served more than 4-8oz at a time. Creme Brulee, the Bourbon County series, Palate Wrecker, Devil Dancer, Imperial Biscotti Break, etc. All of these are beers that I liked far less at the end of the bottle than at the begging. Your palate can easily get numbed, and the more intense a beer, the easier it's numbed. Even with less intense beers, chances are you're not savoring and contemplating every sip like you do your first and last.

    On topic, I think it's perfectly reasonable to judge a beer based off of 3-4 ounces. Do you have to drink 16 ounces of wine, liquor, coffee, tea, etc. to be able to fairly judge them? Why is beer different? Serving conditions are vastly more important in accurately judging than serving size.

    As for just simple enjoyment without judgment and contemplation, often you do want more than a few ounces. That's perfectly fine. That's why I usually have a 12 pack of something in the fridge while I have a closet full of a huge variety of beers. Sometimes you just want to drink a good beer without swirling, sniffing, and contemplating every sip.
  26. searsclone

    searsclone Savant (370) Arizona Sep 7, 2006

    From "BEER 101: how to review a beer"

    "Don't review from samplers
    Along the same lines as beer fests, many brewpubs and beer bars offer samplers - typically 4ozs servings of a range of offerings. You shouldn't review these either. Between the presentation and sample size, samplers are simply not worthy of reviews. You're not going to get to know a beer off of a single 4oz sample. "

    On another note, I have many times asked a bartender for a sample, thought I liked it, then could barely get through the pint. The sip was good, but the beer was much less enjoyable. Usually the samples are much smaller than a flight. As for the original question about a beers quality, I think it is much too subjective to say. I think a flight will give you enough flavor and mouth feel to know if you want to have more, but is not enough to know if it is truly "good" or not.
  27. It depends. I think this is only true because in theory people drink full pours of beers. But a ticker who only ticks a couple ounces should only judge on a couple ounces because that's how that person "enjoys" beer.
  28. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (620) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004 Subscriber

    I need to drink a minimum of two full imperial pints to get a proper feel for a beer. Unless it's totally shit, of course.
  29. MLucky

    MLucky Savant (400) California Jul 31, 2010

    It doesn't sound like we're not disagreeing completely. If you read my post, you'll note that I mention that what I said does not apply so much to, say, a barleywine that's meant to be served in a ~6 oz portion. Given that we're only talking about a difference of an ounce or two, I think these types of beers can be fairly evaluated in a tasting tray type portion. I would say we're in agreement there.

    But where we probably disagree would be with regard to something like Palate Wrecker. I think that might be a good example of a beer that, if tasted as part of tray alongside a few other DPAs in a 2 oz pour it might seem more flavorful than the others, but tends to numb the palate as you say if you drink more than that. My point being that a great beer shouldn't numb the palate in a normal size serving. Or start to seem overly sweet or oaky or whatever.
  30. n2185

    n2185 Advocate (715) North Carolina Apr 14, 2008 Beer Trader

    I'd agree with that, which is one of the reasons why I'm not a fan of the beers I mentioned. When a beer becomes too much in its main serving size (a bottle), it's not a particularly good beer. I once did a side-by-side with two years of Devil Dancer and holy shit. I felt like I couldn't taste anything after a few ounces of each. The year-old bottle was still a palate wrecker.
  31. It probably isn't enough to get a full picture of the beer but I think it's enough to decide what you want to buy from the brewery . Later you can have a full one and get to fully experience it by it self .
  32. wesbray

    wesbray Advocate (550) Alberta (Canada) Feb 29, 2012 Beer Trader

    Went to a tasting at a local store tonight. Had a few 4oz samples with the Rogue rep (as well as Dead Guy Whiskey). Definitely feel that I would rather just buy pints or at least 12oz drinks. Really did not give me a feel of the beers.
  33. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Savant (410) Virginia Jun 21, 2009

    If you can't "get it" after 4 oz, you're doing something wrong.
  34. Gregfalone

    Gregfalone Savant (375) California Sep 5, 2012 Beer Trader

    4 oz = four sips... Should be good enough to tell most of the time. Then again, some beers I've had to drink two or three times to fully appreciate. I guess it depends on if I already know the particular style I'm tasting