Last week Jeremy Danner, brewer and brand ambassador for Boulevard Brewing Company went on a spectacular twitter rant (all beer fans should follow him @Jeremy_Danner). I know, I know, Danner goes on a twitter rant almost daily so I need to be a little more specific. This rant involved a reveler at the GABF in Colorado who came to the Boulevard booth and asked what the “rarest” beer they were pouring was. Jeremy was miffed that this guy only seemed to care about how hard to find a beer was as opposed to how good it was. This is an increasing problem with a certain segment of beer drinkers (and one that I have ranted against before) who would rather brag on message boards about all of the rare beers they’ve tried than try things that haven’t been internet pre approved and form their own opinions. I understand the desire to try new beers, especially at a beer festival, but if you know so little about a brewery that you need to ask which beers are rare shouldn’t you really be asking which beers are best? I suggested that Danner should have poured this guy a sample of Tank 7 and told him it was a single batch, GABF-only saison. This dude probably would have created an entry on Untappd and spent the whole next day bragging about trying it to his internet beer cronies.
The second part of the rant was about flagship beers, and how the obsession with new and rare has made some new breweries eschew flagship styles almost entirely. I think he makes a really good point here. One of the biggest strengths of a flagship beer is that it is a tried and true recipe, many flagships have been perfected over years of brewing. This is the problem with the steady stream of one-off and specialty beers, I can’t imagine each of these brewery is doing hundreds of test batches before they release each new beer to the public, they wouldn’t have the time of the money. I understand the excitement of trying something new, especially when you’ve heard good things or it’s a brewery you’ve enjoyed in the past. Hell, I would say that more than half of of my reviews on this blog are beers that are new to the market. I just think it is important to balance that novelty with some staples, beers that you have enjoyed for years and know you are going to like each time you drink them. There are also probably a number of flagship and readily available beers that you’ve never tried (at least outside of your 75th tasting glass at a beerfest) and are worth sampling.
Consider this my ode to flagship beers. I am going to make a concerted effort going forward to grab a few old favorites every time I do a stock up run. I know I’ve said this before and I’ve done a so-so job of it, but even I am a work in progress when it comes to balancing old classics with the novel and exciting. I am also going to try and mix in reviews of great old beers along with the new releases I review on a regular basis. Here is my Hoppy Boston weekend challenge, go out and drink a beer that is readily available and that you’ve enjoyed in the past, but haven’t tried in a while. Here are a few flagship beers that I always find myself going back to (with links to the full reviews when they are available):
Pretty Things Jack D’Or: Widely available and incredibly flavorful, one of my go-to local beers.
Mayflower Porter: Possibly my favorite porter and a beer I try to drink on a regular basis, especially during the cooler months.
Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union: So much hop flavor and still so easy to drink.
Allagash White: A classic for a reason, perfect for recent converts from the macros and seasoned connoisseurs alike.
Idle Hands Triplication: One of my favorite tripels, I am so glad that Idle Hands found a new space so the Triplication can keep flowing.
Notch Session Pils: The beer that changed my opinion of pilsner, and still one of my favorite easy-drinking session selections.
Boulevard Tank 7: A truly American take on a classic Belgian style, complex and tasty.
Sam Adams Boston Lager: One of the originals a lager made for all occasions.
Founders Porter: People go crazy for their barrel aged stouts, but their porter is widely available and delicious.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: The beer that launched the revolution in many ways, and it still holds up after all these years.
There are obviously more, but these are some of my personal favorites. Which flagship beers do you keep in regular rotation? Which are beers you haven’t had in far too long and need to revisit?