The never-ending search for the newest, the weirdest, the most extreme beer can be exciting, but it's also exhausting. Those in the know estimate that there may be as many as 22,000 breweries operating worldwide at this moment. Assuming that each of those breweries offer a dozen (conservatively counting) kinds of beer, do the math and that's ... a lot of kinds of beer!
Let's bring that down -- as we like to do here -- to the local level: Think about the last time you visited your local taproom, your local liquor-store beer shelf, your mega-mart beer selection. So. Many. Choices. Is your head swimming yet? And that's even before a single sip ...
Several well-known beer writers -- including Stephen Beaumont, Jay Brooks, and Porter Hughes -- recently suggested (while some of us were trudging dutifully through "Dryanuary") that February 2019 be celebrated as "Flagship February."
During "Flagship February," they proposed, beer enthusiasts might want to step back from the "what's new" frenzy, think for a few minutes about the beers and tastes that drew them into the craft-beer world in the first place, and show these older (OK, let's call them "venerable") brews a little respect.
(Credit: Flagship February website):
"The idea of Flagship February – the hashtag, the website and the movement – is not to try to shore up sales of the flagship beers of various breweries – that’s the job of the marketing and sales divisions of those breweries.
Our thinking is that flagship beers have much to teach new drinkers and remind older drinkers, and if they fall off the radar so far that they disappear completely, we will all be that much poorer for it."
This concept ties neatly with the LoveLocalBeer passion for finding enjoyment in the local offering, for thinking back to the first time you had a craft beer and said, "Whoa--that's not the usual watery taste," for enjoying what you like with your neighbors and friends in a place that's comfortable.
No one's saying that beer lovers should stick only to older, flagship brands all month; instead, it can be a fun exercise to think for a minute what got us into craft beer and local beer, and then choose a pint or a bottle of your O.G. craft brew or something like it. It can also be part of the discussion when you're sitting down with those neighbors and friends in your comfortable place -- beer people love to talk about beer, after all -- and it can go something like this: "What's YOUR flagship beer? When did you first taste it? Where were you? Who were you with? What was going on in your life when you had that 'aha' beer moment?"
Now, not everyone is going to remember all these details: For some of us, it was just a few years ago, while for others, those details are nearly 30 years in the past. But it can be an enjoyable discussion, with a few funny/dimly remembered/nostalgia-tinged details.
I'll go first: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Anchor Brewing Anchor Steam Beer. Probably 1990. Trip to California. My spouse-to-be. Traveling after college, most likely during one of our first weeklong vacations from our "real jobs." I remember we ordered, toasted "cheers," sipped, and then locked eyes as our smiles got wider. Travel, age, and homebrewing broadened our taste for beer, but I'll always remember those originals.
What about you, local beer lovers? What might make it on your to-do list for Flagship February?