If you spend as much time looking at craft beer influencer profiles on Instagram as I do (and I don’t recommend it unless you are in serious need of a hobby), you might have recognized a trend last month (with an accompanying hashtag) known as Flagship February. The expression (and subsequent ‘grassroots’ movement) was coined by beer writer and consultant Stephen Beaumont.
The idea was launched by Beaumont as sales for flagship beers continue to drop — yet another sign of the heightened level of beer promiscuity we’re seeing as younger beer drinkers enjoy the bounty of new, different craft beers on a sometimes daily basis. It was started to effectively help people remember some of the classic beers that helped launch the frenzy that so many gastro-centric beer drinkers are now enjoying. You can read more about Flagship February in this article by Food & Wine.
I didn’t participate in Flagship February. Not because I don’t enjoy the novelty of the idea, but because most of the time my beer fridge is filled with local offerings from favorites like Idle Hands, Tree House Brewing, and Exhibit A. None of these breweries have brewed a beer that would yet fit into the “classic” status (although several from each are emergent contenders). I appreciated the throwback to some of those trend-setting classics like Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, I just didn’t go shopping for any of them.
If you read my last blog (attention all readers) then you might recall that I was speculating about some recent beer fads, including the Brut IPA, which I still believe the jury is waiting to decide on. The notion that a wave of craft beer enthusiasts are willing to participate in an experiment that calls attention to ‘throwback’ beers is interesting, when seen through that lens.
We are slowly seeing the pendulum (for some people) swing away from New England IPAs and Oreo-spiked Stouts to beer that is simple as its core. Breweries are releasing ‘West Coast Style IPAs’ (see also, IPAs) and there is a market demand for more sessionable beers and lagers: beers that require no line to purchase, are good and simple and refreshing, and remind (or educate) beer drinkers that beer, at its basest level, is comprised of 4 ingredients. And sometimes, that’s okay.