May 15, 2012

Flag Day for Flagship Beers | June 10 - 16

At the risk of causing a controversy with patriotic symbols and celebration (in an election year no less). I'd like to propose that we use Flag Day to honor the symbol of our nation and that also use that week to mark the success of one of the more tangible results of our Nation's independent spirit--American brewing.

During the week of Flag Day let's take a moment to celebrate our breweries flagship beers.

Fat Tire by Alisa Medina
(Brew Bros)
Flagship beers, for those that want a definition, are the beers that keep the lights on for a brewery. They are that breweries top-selling brand. Though I can't source a link at the moment, many of us are familiar with the story of New Belgium. Fat Tire and Abbey were two of co-founder Jeff Lebesh's first recipes. Lebesh was certain that Abbey would be the top seller. It wasn't to be of course. Fat Tire was the people's choice and it's success allowed New Belgium to support a vast and wide-ranging flavorful catalog as well as a employee driven culture.

It's a wonder to many outside the state that the top-selling locally produced beer in Arizona is Kilt Lifter  Scottish Style Ale, yet we drink it here unflinchingly as if it were lemonade. When asked, Head Brewer Andy Ingram will tell you that he'd always anticipated that 8th Street would be everyone's go to beer.

With other breweries in the state, it's less clear to me what the flagship beer is. Is SanTan's flagship its Devil's Ale or is it Epicenter? What about Lumberyard? Does the IPA sell more than the Red? I don't have that answer and that is the larger point of focus in this week in June. For many of us that choose to participate, we'll be drinking these beers again for the first time. It's an opportunity to revisit beers that you have not perhaps had in a decade. (Such a thing happened to my with Anchor Steam and I regret my years of overlooking that beer.)
Let's avoid this appropriation of the flag.
If you write a blog, I ask that you devote some time to writing about a flagship beer in your area. If you're just a reader, I encourage you to re-visit some flagships with a presumably more experienced palate. Encourage other bloggers to explore this idea and, of course, comment it up at the blog or social media outlet of choice.


See the rest of the Flagship Beer Day series here.


  1. Interesting comment about which Four Peaks beer became the flagship. I've always preferred 8th Street Ale, but it always seems second to Kilt Lifter in consumption and recognition.

  2. David, Four Peaks will be adding a new can to it's lineup. I'm told that there is no guarantee that it will be 8th Street. In fact, sales indicate that Peach Ale might be the likely candidate.

    That tells ya something.