Flagship February, traditionally known as a time to refocus on the offerings that probably made you a craft beer fan to begin with. Where would John Cena be if there was no Stone Cold? As many devout Dry January patrons exit their imbibing hibernation February emerges, quite literally when you consider Groundhog Day, into a newly energized enthusiast. Do they go straight for the barrel aged stouts and barleywine or ease into a few crisp pilsners? Is the most comfortable, most approachable, beer the one you’ve been drinking all along? The familiarity that comes with the tried and true core offerings from a brewery acts as an anchor to a deep sea ship that’s filled with recreational seafarers.
A flagship will always be your starting point, home base, for a brewery. If we do one thing exceptionally well it’s this beer and we’re going to produce it in mass so you can enjoy it as much as we do. Ideally the flagship(s) help a consumer new or old evaluate the identity of a brand along with some of their values and distinct theming. Any brand in any industry models their core products in this way. It may not be the Maybach of beers but if it’s a Buick and it gets you from A to B every damn day then it’s a damn fine car, and you’ll Be damn proud of that Buick.
The shift beer at the end of a hard days work the flagship provides a respite. Yet is it a best seller? As diversity continues to dominate the market, a craft brewery, with a few exceptions (cough cough Cohesion), is expected to produce a wide variety of styles and flavors pushing well beyond the boundaries of traditional style guidelines. What then do you perma-label your flagship? Does it standout more because it’s in line and consistent or does it become muddled amongst your other 16 gourmet cheesecake offerings?
To those who have a deep love and appreciation for the craft I believe a flagship does standout and always will. Yet we are seeing brands such as New Belgium Fat Tire and Sam Adams Boston Lager deviate from age old recipes produced alongside the inception of their respective brands morph into more “consumer friendly” beers. While personally I can empathize with a brand needing to adapt and survive, demonstrated no more clearly than the last 3 years, it’s a tough egg to swallow when you see a flagship beer from your core memories being re-envisioned. The old heads shake their fists in the air shouting it’s not what it used to be and the average consumer notices a flashy label of a beer they saw at a Jewel Osco once and skipped over. It’s all a part of the progress of man.
For my own sake, here are five Flagship beers from Kentucky I personally hope never change.
- David Satterly