The brews that started it all (a.k.a. flagships) unleashed a turbo-powered craft movement that continues to expand. Taste the beers that inspired countless artisans to boldly brew what no man or woman has brewed before.
Baby beer drinkers (freshly 21-23) entering a world full of hazy IPAs, barrel-aged sours and one-off small batch brews, can’t be blamed for glossing over flagship beers. Yes, these famous beers might come from a simpler time, but the creation of brews like Allagash White introduced an entire country to how delicious a Belgian wheat beer could be. Without Allagash White, who knows if beers like 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon or Dogfish Head Namaste would have ever been created.
Every brewer strives to make great beer. But others are looking to push the limits and leave their mark on the industry. Flagship beers created a legacy and are benchmarks for periods in beer history when breweries boldly wanted to push the boundaries. Back in the day, this is what Sam Calagione accomplished with Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, when he created what is now known as the “continuous hopping” method, or what Jim Koch achieved when he launched Sam Adams Boston Lager in a world full of “pale, yellow, fizzy” beers. Each of these beers helped the craft beer industry take a necessary step forward.
While a beer like Heady Topper might not be put on the same pedestal it once was, the beer remains a big reason why brewers are creating new sub-styles like brut and milkshake IPAs. Benchmarks push brewers to say, “where do we go next?” That leads to innovation, and using new ingredients like lactose, deciding not to filter an IPA or infusing beer with other alcoholic beverages in hopes of creating delicious hybrids. Brewers are searching for something more, and we have flagship beers to thank for establishing an industry where the brave and bold are celebrated.
Flagship beers have a special place in brewers’ hearts. They most likely put the brand on the map and are usually synonymous with a specific style of beer. And these beers should be held in just as high regard by drinkers as well. While there might seem like an overwhelming number of new breweries and beers popping up each day, think about the flagship beers that inspired innovation. Grab one, if only to appreciate how far the craft beer industry has come, and how far it will go, all thanks to the long-standing achievements of flagship beers.