Finding it a challenge to keep up with the wider variety of beers available? Beer flights are a great way of keeping your tastebuds up to date – you could even start your own beer club.
If you’re keen to try a wider selection of beers in a responsible manner, forming or joining a beer club is a great place to start. It can be as casual or as organised as you like if you simply gather a few like-minded friends and get together over a selection of brews, or ask at your local Liquorland about beer clubs and tasting events.
Small serves for each person, between 100 and 150ml, are enough to give you a feel for the beer, and a theme to follow can help give direction to the tasting process and avoid overwhelming your tastebuds – mixing IPAs with imperial stouts and Belgian Tripels can take your palate on a blurry, too-fast joyride.
Here are three suggested flights to try with friends.
Flight one: Crisp lagers
If there was a universal language for beer it would be lager – it’s the most dominant, and most popular, style of beer.
Crisp, clean, dry, refreshing: all words that work perfectly to describe lager. It’s dry because lager is traditionally brewed to end up with not much sugar in the finished product. It’s clean because there’s not a lot of fruitiness created by the yeasts. It’s crisp because the bitterness of the hops perfectly offsets the malt and alcohol. And it’s refreshing for all those reasons, plus its light malt base and sparkling effervescence.
Smooth with a little citrus and malt breadiness, this is a good clean beer to start any flight, a thirst quencher that leaves you ready to explore more. Bang on 5 per cent ABV.
Traditional Czech and German Pilsner malts meet US hops and result in a good amount of hoppiness with lime peel flavours. Very refreshing.
Take the classic Czech style and put a Kiwi spin on it with a local hop variation; the bitterness moves from citrus and tangy to some sweet passionfruit and lychee character.
Some describe this as the beer version of a sauvignon blanc – it’s fruity (with flavours of passionfruit and grapefruit), refreshing and very approachable.
Flight two: IPA Journey
There’s no beer style more tweaked and adapted than this centuries-old British classic. The basic parcel is alcohol above 5.85 per cent and a decent hop kick. The Americans were the first to adapt the IPA with their famous citrus-pine hop varieties from the Pacific North-West, creating the famed West Coast IPA. Then Kiwis got in on the act with our unique hops. Here’s a tour through some of the personality traits of a good IPA.
Offering a generous amount of rich maltiness with Cascade and NZ hops to counter with a dose of bitterness and drive.
This was one of our first homegrown new generation pale ales and has become a bit of a classic. First you’ll notice a marmalade-like blend of citrus and caramelised malts and then the refreshment hits – resiny hops and a dry finish.
Its lighter colour belies a full-bodied malt flavour, and classic English hop varieties produce high bitterness, flavour and aroma. At 5% ABV it comes in lower than many IPAs.
Epic Armageddon: A cult classic. A little malt and a heck of a lot of hops give this IPA a bombastic impact on the tastebuds, with thirst-quenching citrus flavours.
Flight three: Hop Distinctions
The selection of hops, both type and quantity, contributes so much to the outcome of aroma and flavour. While some brews offer a whack-in-the-face explosion of hops, others are more subtle and rely on a single variety.
This transparent ale has a tropical hit with passionfruit, mango and pink guava aroma and flavours and a bitterness that’s not overly brash.
Definitely one for the hopheads with a long list of hop varieties and an impressively big bitterness.
A single hop brew packed with the tropical and gooseberry notes reminiscent of sauvignon blanc.
A veritable showcase of hop varieties offer to overwhelm your tastebuds – in a good way, but be warned!