Did COVID kill flights? If so, do you care?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Immortale25, Oct 10, 2021.


Do you need a traditional flight experience when trying a new brewery?

  1. No, unlimited small pours (4-6oz) a la carte works fine for me

  2. Yes, I prefer the traditional flight setup

  1. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,391) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I can't recall a single time post-quarantine that I've asked the question at a brewery "Do you do flights?" and had the answer be "Yes." It seems that, since flights are not very fitting for a super sanitary environment, plus they hold up lines at a busy bar, that most breweries have eschewed them and seen little to no reason to go back. However, I'd say at least half the time I ask, they're perfectly happy to give as many small pours (4-6oz) at a time, or at least do half pours. Personally, I could care less about a large amount of small pours being given to me on a board or paddle, which is often cumbersome or precarious to carry, with all the names of the beers written next to them. My ideal scenario is carrying three 6 oz pours at a time in a triangle formation to my table and just remembering which is which (which is what I'm currently doing at Funk Factory Geuzeria, yum). I don't need more than 18 oz of beer at a time. So what say you? Do you prefer the traditional board + signifier setup or are you cool with the more self-sufficient approach? Also, which breweries can you name that still do the traditional setup?
    BJB13, Junior, Rug and 2 others like this.
  2. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Poo-Bah (2,893) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Interesting. Every brewery around here (that I have visited) still does flights. I don't really get them, so I really wouldn't be upset if they disappeared.
    Ranbot, mogulskier, rgordon and 12 others like this.
  3. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,248) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    Flights are back. I did one at both Kane and Carton in NJ today.
    mogulskier, jonphisher, Rug and 3 others like this.
  4. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (697) Mar 28, 2009 California

    I am a full pour guy. I’d rather have a full beer or two then a bunch of little pours. Rather take a chance then have just a few ounces of a beer I like.

    I love when places have 8 or 10 oz options. Alesmith and Sierra Nevada do those sizes or something close, which I think is great.
  5. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (400) Aug 24, 2020 California

    My experience is mixed. Last week I had a very nice conventional flight of 5 beers but they also sold flight-sized glasses one at a time. On the other hand, about 4 months ago I was at another brewery where they ONLY did 16 oz and ONLY in those god-forsaken plastic cups like Solo cups. They claimed the covid thing terminated (at least temporarily) their use of glassware and flights. I'm not drinking a nice craft brew out of a plastic cup at a brewery. I'm happy to buy 4-6 oz small glasses to try a couple beers until I learn what is the best offering.
    bubseymour, BJB13, Junior and 7 others like this.
  6. morimech

    morimech Poo-Bah (4,196) Nov 6, 2006 Minnesota

    Still do it around here. At a brewery they hate filling flights especially if there are people waiting. Just ask for a sample. Much easier even if you ask for several and saves everyone time.
  7. beerjerk666

    beerjerk666 Poo-Bah (3,054) Aug 22, 2010 Florida
    Society Trader

    I love it when flights are offered.
    Tasting 4-6 or even more at a time so you can get a decent representation of what the brewery has to offer between styles or even within the style.
    That way when, sometimes if, you return you know what you're getting a full pour of...so would you prefer several small disappointments or winners or several large ones?
    They could be all winners, but I am a cynic by nature.
  8. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (4,032) Dec 11, 2006 California
    Society Trader

    What’s unsanitary about flights? You order 4 of them, drink them, and move on. What I never liked is when a bar uses your empty, dirty glass to fill up your next beer (even if you ordered the same beer). I also hope they don’t use a dirty glass while using the water rinse (saw that post covid at beer festivals). I’m also not a fan of the use the same glass all night, pour your own beer places.
  9. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,823) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Society Trader

    Although I do nearly all of my drinking at home, I do like having the option of a flight when I visit a brewhouse. They've pretty much always been available around here, SCAMdemic be damned.

    No one has ever tried to serve me a flight in plastic cups. I figure anyone who would do this doesn't care too much about their beer.
    mogulskier, Singlefinpin, Rug and 8 others like this.
  10. Reidrover

    Reidrover Poo-Bah (4,410) Jan 14, 2003 Oregon

    Why would I do flights i can request a free sample pour of any beer i want to try
  11. honkey

    honkey Disciple (337) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    Weird. Arizona breweries are still doing flights and I just had a heavy travel schedule that included trips to Portland, OR and to D.C. and all the breweries there were still doing them as well
    Ranbot, Singlefinpin, BJB13 and 6 others like this.
  12. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,253) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I write Place reviews of new-to-me breweries, and I want to make a comment as accurate as I can about the overall quality of the beers. The only way to do that without over-indulging is to drink a flight that I think is representative of their line-up of beers. I didn't visit as many breweries during COVID as my normal schedule, but I did find one place that stopped serving flights because of the pandemic.

    So I voted that I need flights to be able to do what I like to do. However, rarely do I order a flight at a known brewery.
  13. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Defender (616) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    God, I hope so (that COVID killed flights). Because flights inhibit progress... of me getting my beer... is >=1 people in front of me are ordering a flight.
    beveritt, Singlefinpin, BJB13 and 8 others like this.
  14. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Initiate (121) Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey

    I rarely buy flights myself but all the breweries close by seem to be offering them.
  15. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (893) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Still serving them here. I don’t like them as you pay a premium to get 4 smaller pours. I can ask for a sample taste if unsure of a beer. A local I go to is always good so I order by the menu description. Never had one I was upset with.

    It does bother me that folks get upset over others ordering flights. If that bothers you go to a bar that does not offer them. The brewery offers them to pour or they would not have them on the menu.

  16. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (6,390) Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Moderator Society Trader

    I've still seen plenty of places offering flights, both bars and breweries. The places that haven't seem to be newer spots: places that never offered flights in the first place, rather than changed things due to the pandemic.

    (Side note: I'm not really sure what's more sanitary about multiple small pours one at a time, instead of four or five at once.)

    A flight can be convenient at a bar, especially if you're drinking far away from where you order (e.g. outside patio), or to minimize the amount of trips you need to make. Beyond that, I don't particularly care; in most scenarios, I'm perfectly fine ordering one or two small pours, and revisiting - in fact, I often do that even when I'm not in a tasting-and-sampling mood: when given the choice between tall and short pours, I almost always choose short. I'd rather enjoy every last sip of the beer, and then move on to another, than sit there with a lager or IPA growing warm, wondering why, exactly, I needed 22 ounces ... :wink:
  17. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,391) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Yes, I definitely can't stand the inverse problem. I went to SF for the first time recently and I was pretty bummed that Toronado does this. Yeah, they can get away with it because of their reputation, but with the awesome lineup they always have, it's like c'mon, at least do half pours.
  18. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,093) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    Sadly, fucking taster trays are still a thing around here. I wish they'd go away. Such a pain in the ass.
  19. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,391) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    All right, so I guess it's just been luck of the draw as I've been travelling to various breweries in a few different states that none of them have been offering flights, leading to a misperception. But, sticking with the overall query of the poll, I maintain that things like what's pictured below are unnecessary and, in the latter case, downright excessive
    Above is a flight at Catawba Brewing's Asheville taproom. Good for a novelty and decently easy to carry, but a bit much IMO
    And here's the famous (though probably infamous to some, like the staff) flight board at Russian River. Do you have any idea how long it must take to build one of those things? I've never been there, but it must drive the wait times for service up dramatically whenever multie of these are ordered within a short time-span

    I know these are extreme examples and I understand that things like these can serve a practical purpose for non-geeks, tourists who just wanna check out the craft beer thing. @RaulMondesi @Roguer I think one of the reasons flights are unsanitary is if you think about a group of ppl all taking sips out of these large sampler boards, that's quite a bit less sanitary than everyone having their own dedicated round of flight pours

    You can still do that by just ordering 3 or 4 flight pours at a time

    Bottom line: I think traditional flights of more than 6 beers is tedious and time-consuming. But then again, this is also coming from a guy who has had to build many a-flight myself, so I'm admittedly biased
  20. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (6,390) Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Moderator Society Trader

    I get the idea, and certainly the optics, but it just doesn't seem to be a very valid concern.

    No one is drinking off the boards themselves. No one is stopping the bar from sanitizing the boards (the glasses similarly are being reused regardless, and must be sanitized, regardless of format). Most places offering flights have enough boards to rotate through and spray them down without issue. The only complaint would be time, which echoes complaints about flights in general - with or without Covid concerns.

    It doesn't seem any less sanitary than the bar or table itself, or the various door handles that every patron must touch, not just those ordering flights - and again, those boards can easily be cleaned behind the bar, and much more consistently than all of the tables, handles, chairs, railings, etc. You sanitize the board after every patron; do they do that for every door knob after every person goes to the bathroom? (They do not.)

    On the contrary, are you still seeing bars and breweries diligently spraying down and sanitizing tables and surfaces after each patron? Are they spacing people out at the bar? I'm not really seeing much of that anymore.

    Point being: if a brewery is afraid of transmitting Covid, in particular, from a tasting board, but they're letting people sit right next to each other, then they're more concerned with the optics than with actual risk. Even if they space out groups, again, the other various surfaces of the bar/brewery should be just as much a concern as a tasting board, if not more.

    This should be a non-issue. :slight_smile:
  21. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (400) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Unnecessary? Unnecessary for what? Some people like variety, and in my case my wife and I will share a tasting flight, although most of the ones we have max out at 5 unless we want to add additional tasting glasses to the order. I like lots of different styles and if I am at an unfamiliar brewery I strongly prefer tasting flights or a few tasting glasses to start with. The 1 oz or less sampler glasses that are complementary are inadequate (IMO) to evaluate what I want to invest a 16 oz in.
  22. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (400) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I read the comments about how tasting flights are disruptive to the flow of filling waiting orders and quick servicing of other patrons. Its a pretty sad state of affairs when people are so impatient that they insist on placing their own self importance over the equally valid preferences of other patrons. I agree with one of the earlier comments...if you find flights impinge sooo much upon your experience at the brewery/bar go somewhere else to drink or drink at home. If anything, flights are an excellent way to introduce newbies to the world of craft brewing. We should welcome that. I'm sure that if the establishment owner really thought flights were a detriment they would either stop selling them or they would figure out how to streamline the process.

    Also, I do consider the extra work involved in flights when I calculate my tip.
  23. russpowell

    russpowell Poo-Bah (11,405) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Society Trader

    Nevervwent anywhere here. Even In Covid paranoid Maui all those places were doing flights
  24. hopsputin

    hopsputin Poo-Bah (2,501) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    I'm all about everyone drinking what they want and being happy, but i agree with you regarding flights. too much waiting when people in front of you are ordering them.
  25. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,391) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    That's exactly what I've been noticing and what I stated in the second sentence of my OP.

    There is no way to streamline the process... Wait actually you just reminded me, I can't remember what brewery it was but a looooong time ago I remember visiting a brewery that had rigged up their flight board to actually pull all the tap handles and serve the beer into the tasting glasses all at once. Sure, you'll have to put the finishing touches on it since the beers won't all flow the same, but still a clever idea I thought. But that's the only example I have of a possible streamlining of the process.

    This is very true and something I considered when opening up this poll. I welcome all who are interested in craft beer to explore this awesome world. It just sucks when it seems like all of those people happen to be visiting your bar at the same time. Again, I've been a beertender in Asheville before, so I'm just having a bit of a pity party. And I guess I got a bit excited when I started finally travelling abroad again and noticed no one seemed to be doing traditional flights anymore. If they can stay afloat without them, why can't everyone else?
    Singlefinpin, BJB13 and Roguer like this.
  26. woodchipper

    woodchipper Meyvn (1,420) Oct 25, 2005 Connecticut

    Probably been mentioned already but..... Flights are okay if the bar is not busy. Please people look at the crowd, look at the staff's capacity, read the room, and only order flights when it does not incovenience people just looking for a single pour.
  27. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,543) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    I have not noticed a decline in flights post-COVID. There were already breweries that would not serve flights or 4-5oz pours pre-COVID, and they have maintained that practice up until today.
  28. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (400) Aug 24, 2020 California

    So from your statement you seem to believe that it makes more sense for me to not ever get what is on the menu (a flight) on a busy night rather than "inconvenience" someone who might have to wait an extra 3 minutes or less to get what they want? Sorry, but IMO, that is jacked up priorities.
  29. rolltide8425

    rolltide8425 Meyvn (1,292) Feb 18, 2011 Pennsylvania

    When I'm at a brewery, especially one that's new to me, I want to try as many of their offerings as I can to get an overall feel for the quality of the brewery. The whole notion of "inconveniencing" someone who wants a single pour doesn't make sense to me. I have just as much right to order what I want as the next person. If you have to wait an extra 2 minutes oh well; you're still getting the beer you want. Screams first world pains to me.
  30. needMIbeer

    needMIbeer Crusader (794) Feb 5, 2014 Virginia

    I’m at the point where ordering a flight is exceedingly rare. Before taking the time to visit a new brewery I’ve usually done some type of reading on them to know what they are about and feel confident order full pours. When in doubt I’ll typically do a half pour or something similar.
    Singlefinpin, BJB13 and 40ontarget like this.
  31. UrbanCaveman

    UrbanCaveman Crusader (748) Sep 30, 2014 Ohio

    Flights are definitely still a thing here in the corner of Ohituckyana.

    Like some others on this thread, I'll get one when I'm at a new-to-me brewery - or at least one that has that many beers I'd potentially be interested in. If their lineup is 90% stuff I know from the style descriptor alone I don't want, I'll usually just leave instead. :laughing:

    That said, the most recent new-to-me brewery I visited, I knew I was going to be at for the entire duration of an Iowa football game - so I ordered full pours instead (their stuff I was interested in was lower ABV).
  32. chinchill

    chinchill Poo-Bah (10,302) Feb 29, 2008 South Carolina

    I have only run across one brewery that stopped flights due to Covid (Cold Spring Brewery in NJ). makes no sense but the correlated worker shortage may be the actual reason. I don't care if flights are not available as long as short pours but too many breweries offer neither.
  33. Timmush

    Timmush Aspirant (257) Jan 5, 2008 New Jersey

    Flights are the second worse thing to ever happen to beer.
  34. heymikew

    heymikew Meyvn (1,211) Mar 18, 2011 California

    When visiting a brewery for the first time I like to try all their beers, even if it's just to decide what to have. Ultimately, if it's a smaller place, I end up adding all their brews to BA.
    Sometimes just a quick free splash taste is all I need of some.
    I've been to breweries that have a fixed, not inclusive, tasting flight. This is counterproductive. Free form is the way to go.
  35. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,391) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Singlefinpin, BJB13 and PapaGoose03 like this.
  36. tobelerone

    tobelerone Poo-Bah (2,927) Dec 1, 2010 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    and the first?
  37. disco_al

    disco_al Initiate (12) Dec 31, 2019 New York

    I'm a fan of flights when visiting a new brewery, especially when I'm with my wife who is driving.
    We recently visited Hot House Brewing in Cicero NY. They had 10 beers on tap, and flights came with 4. I sampled the one beer I guessed I wouldn't care for (the sour), then I got one flight followed by another, and the bar staff was so kind to bring an extra 5th glass with the second flight as she knew I was sampling them all. I was then able to buy 4-packs of cans of my favorites, namely the Plank Road Porter and the Red Ale.

    Now this was a quiet lunchtime
  38. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,253) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    If many flights are just 4 or 5 beers then 3 or 4 isn't that different to me for time and effort by the bartender. Plus I typically visit breweries when they aren't busy and the bartender has time. I am sensitive to ordering a flight during busy periods, so sometimes I do what you suggest. And I do tip accordingly regardless of how busy the bartender might be.

    Maybe growlers and crowlers are what you should be discussing because I see them as being time consuming for a bartender. But that's a whole other topic for a thread. :slight_smile:
  39. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    As I understand it (based on both personal preferences and over two decades of reading BA and other beer internet sites) there are several dozen tied for first place.
    Singlefinpin, BJB13, woemad and 6 others like this.
  40. ilikebeer03

    ilikebeer03 Meyvn (1,409) Oct 17, 2012 Texas

    I like flights when visiting a new brewery, and would be disappointed if they disappeared.