Flights, Pours, And Samplers: A Guide To Ordering Craft Beer

The craft beer industry is booming, and with it comes a new wave of drinks for you to try. If you want to sample the best on offer, then you might need to become a tap room connoisseur.

Taprooms are typically connected to breweries and offer a relaxing space for customers to try what’s on offer. And because they’re so connected to the brewery, every taproom has its own unique appeal.

Flights, Pours, And Samplers: A Guide To Ordering Craft Beer

As exciting as the taproom variety is, it can also be a little confusing. And although you might be a bar pro, ordering at a taproom is different.

You won’t just ask for whatever they might have bottled, or whatever’s on tap. Instead, there are some other ordering options to consider.

Most taprooms follow a similar system for ordering. So, even if it isn’t quite like a bar, it will be like other taprooms you’ve visited. To help get you started, check out this guide on how to order drinks in a taproom.

How To Order At A Taproom

Many of us have probably experienced the embarrassment of heading to a bar, and completely messing up the terminology. Especially if trying to order a cocktail or a drink you’ve never had before.

While you might be tempted to never order anything but the usual again, this would mean you never get to try anything new.

And when it comes to craft beer, there’s always something new to try.

Taprooms aren’t complicated to order from, they’re just different. And each taproom can have its own system, which means not all the options below will be offered.

Some small taprooms might have limited choices, while others will have even more than we’ve covered.

However, taprooms are typically attached to breweries, and that means the staff are often excited to talk about what’s on offer.

So, if you don’t know what you’re doing, they’ll be more than happy to help. That means helping you pick from popular beers, and helping decide just how big a drink you want.

Read on to find our guide to typical taproom serving sizes.

The Big Full Pour

A full pour is the largest single serving you can get of a drink. It’s typically 16oz, but the size does vary. What constitutes a full pour changes from taproom to taproom, and from drink to drink.

So, in one taproom, a full pour of an IPA might be 16oz, while a full pour of a Porter is 8oz. At the next taproom, all full pours could be 12oz.

The common sizes for a full pour are: 16oz, 12oz, 10oz, and 8oz. But the sizes are set by the taproom, so there might be some variety.

You should be able to find the size of a full pour on the menu, or you can ask what size you’re getting.

If you decide to get a round in and come back with three full pours of different drinks at varying sizes, your guests might be wondering what’s going on.

The different sizes of full pours aren’t intended to under-serve some types of beers. There are several reasons why full pours can differ in size.

First, the ABV. It isn’t unusual for drinks with a strong ABV to have a smaller full pour sizing. You wouldn’t expect a martini in a beer bottle, so don’t expect a 12% ABV in the same size glass as a 6%.

Second, the availability. Taprooms often have limited edition beers or small batches. So that more people get a chance to enjoy this exceptional drink, the size of a full pour might be reduced.

Third, the style of beer. The weight, flavor, and depth of a craft beer can all affect how it’s best served. In some cases, a 16oz glass just won’t do it justice.

Finally, the price. A full pour of an aged or expensive beer is likely to be smaller than the taprooms’ bestseller.

A full pour is a common order in a taproom, with serving size matching the craft beer on tap.

The Smaller Half Pour

It isn’t hard to work out what the half pour is: a drink that’s half the size of a full pour. This is typically 8oz. If the full pour is smaller (say, 12oz or 10oz) then the half pour will be half the size of this.

Half pours aren’t always available, and are generally served in place of a tasting flight. But they are on the menu at quite a few taprooms, so it’s worth asking.

There are advantages to ordering a half pour. They allow you to sample more of the menu without drinking too much, and they’re a good way to try a drink you aren’t that sure about.

A half pour is also the perfect size when you don’t quite have time for another drink, but you’re not ready to go home just yet.

Half pours are generally around half the price of a full pour, but that isn’t always the case. If the size isn’t very popular, the price for two half pours might work out slightly more than a full pour.

To find out if half pours are on the menu, the best thing to do is ask. Even if the taproom doesn’t advertise them, they might be on offer for anyone who asks.

Ask For A Taster

One of the most exciting things about visiting a taproom is getting to try a craft beer that you’ve never had before. But sometimes small breweries add flavors you’re just not that sure of, especially for limited releases.

Before you commit, you might want to know what you’re going to be drinking.

Tasters are typically 4oz measures that the taproom sells to allow people to experience a drink without committing. They’re more than a mouthful, but not enough to really satisfy a thirst.

If you like it, you can order yourself a full pour. If you don’t, you can try something that sounds more to your taste.

Most taprooms will also offer free samples to entice customers to buy. These are typically only 1 to 2oz, so you can get an idea of the beer selection without having to pay for a pour.

The bar staff can help you pick which sample to try, based on what drinks you normally enjoy.

Free samples are common in taprooms, but not every brewery offers them. It’s worth asking for a sample if you’re curious about a craft beer, but be prepared for a no in some cases.

Also, it’s considered taproom etiquette to not ask for more than one or two samples before ordering. They might offer you more, but don’t ask to sample everything that catches your eye.

Enjoy A Tasting Flight

Enjoy A Tasting Flight

A flight of beer is one of the best ways to experience a taproom, especially if you’ve never visited the brewery before. A tasting flight is 4 to 6 small pours of different drinks, served on a holder. Each pour is normally 4 to 5oz.

Tasting flights give you a chance to experience a range of the drinks on offer. They’re great for sharing, as the full flight typically adds up to around 20oz. But they can also be enjoyed by one person with a curious palate.

A tasting flight is typically a little more than one full pour, so you can think of it as a drink and a bit.

In terms of pricing, a tasting flight will be more than a full pour, but you do get the benefit of variety.

In some taprooms, the tasting flight will be pre-determined, with the drinks chosen by the taproom. This might be to curate a flavor range or to show off some underappreciated gems. But at most of them, you’ll be able to pick a selection to try.

Some of the more expensive drinks might be restricted, or cost a little extra, but most beers should be available for the flight. So, you can make your choice from the full range, and try whatever catches your eye.

With a tasting flight, you can order a few drinks that you think you’ll like, and a few that you aren’t sure about.

It’s a fantastic way to expand your choices, and to find some new favorite beers. They’re also good for couples who don’t mind sharing, as you can both sample a bit of everything.

Because the drinks are typically only about 4oz, you can use the flight of beers to try styles you’ve never considered before. If you don’t like it, there are three other types to enjoy!

Try A Bottle

Although ordering something by the bottle is fairly standard in a bar, it’s less common in a taproom. Taprooms are generally attached to breweries, and they aim to serve their beers as fresh as possible — straight from the tap.

But, sometimes taprooms will offer bottles or cans. This is most common for limited releases, which will only be available for a short while.

You should see specialty beers advertised at the bar, and the taproom staff will happily inform you of any new drinks. If there is a limited release available, you should try it before it’s gone!

Some taprooms will offer their standard drinks in bottles and cans, but it isn’t common practice. Still, it’s not exactly unusual. Taprooms will serve their drinks in the way they think is best, and sometimes that’s out of a bottle.

You might also be able to pick up cans or bottles to take home. Taprooms are generally attached to breweries, and they’ll sometimes have a store, or the option to buy sealed drinks to go.

Perfect if you’ve tried one of their latest brews, and you don’t want to have to wait for the next taproom visit to try it again.

Final Thoughts

The best thing about visiting a taproom is getting to try all the exciting craft beers on offer, but you can’t do that if you don’t know how to order.

Luckily, ordering at a taproom isn’t that difficult. The smart way to go about it is to order a flight so you can try some variety, and then picking your favorite for a full pour.

Taprooms typically try to cultivate a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, where everyone feels at home.

The staff tend to be enthusiastic about the product and will be happy to talk you through everything that’s on the menu. And that includes the range of sizes available.

If you aren’t sure what to order, just ask! That way, you’ll know you’re doing it right, and that you’re getting the best drink for you.

Hopefully, this guide will help you feel more comfortable when visiting and ordering at taprooms, so you feel excited to visit. Then you have the chance to try some of the best craft beers around!

Andrew Carr
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