The idea of Flagship February began with Canadian beer author Stephen Beaumont and beer writer Jay Brooks. The pair began with a simple question: in a world of special releases and one-off limited releases, what about all those great beers that changed so many minds about craft beer? The goal of #FlagshipFebruary, both the hashtag and the idea, is to encourage everyone who enjoys craft beer to stop and consider the various craft beers who anchor a brewery’s lineup, who used to be considered challenging and progressive, avant garde even, and those beers that now may be overlooked in favor of the flavor du jour.
These are the beers that have a great story, contributed to beer history, and at one time in history challenged perceptions and opened minds to craft beer. And if given the opportunity, they can continue to do this – all they need is a sympathetic ear for their story and an adventure-seeking drinker for their liquid poetry.
Here are five amazing flagship beers 99 Bottles will feature this Flagship February
Bell’s Brewery Two-Hearted Ale: The gold standard of India Pale Ale from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This IPA shows off the versatility of the Centennial Hop, as it uses 100% Centennial to express massive aroma and flavor of pine and grapefruit. The beer won’t wreck the palate (at least not after one pint) and at 7% ABV does not have a pronounced alcohol presence, it is an easy-drinking IPA that has been voted as the Best Beer in the U.S. by the American Homebrewers Association for the last two years.
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA: The beer that ushered in a new era of hopping technology, Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo is named for the device the brewery constructed to make it. Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman built the hop torpedo to utilize every last bit of aroma hops without making the beer more bitter. The resulting beer finishes at 7.2% ABV and is one of the first large-scale users of the beloved Citra hop. The beer’s reputation precedes the liquid – it’s an IPA that “goes to 11” – one whose massive aroma gives the illusion of a much stronger beer, but the flavor is one that does not leave the drinker with a paralyzed palate.
Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout: In a world enamored with IPA, pale ale, and high gravity beer, in walks Left Hand Brewing’s calling card – a milk stout. Named for its use of milk sugar, Left Hand Brewing invigorated the milk stout style and made drinkers curious about the beer’s sweetness reminiscent of dark chocolate, café con leche, caramelized sugar, and roast malt. On the lighter side of alcohol presence at 6.0% ABV, Left Hand furthered the beer’s trailblazing status by nitrogenating it and giving it a smoother creamier mouthfeel in the meantime.
Allagash White: One of 99 Bottles owner Mark’s favorite craft beers, Allagash White had an uphill battle from the beginning. Allagash Brewing of Portland, Maine was inspired to brew White in 1994, and has brewed it ever since. Brewery owner Rob Tod was inspired by the witbiers of Belgium and he set out to make the best version of a witbier he could. Decades (and thousands of batches of White) later, the White is now available in cans and on draft in 18 states.
Anchor Steam Beer: The most historic beers currently made in the craft beer movement, San Francisco, California’s Anchor Steam Beer has been brewed since 1896, and brewed and bottled in its current form since 1971. The beer is fermented with lager yeast at higher temperatures than the yeast prefers. This process is unique to this single beer style, and while Anchor Steam has been imitated, it has no equal in the style. At 4.9% ABV, Anchor Steam is the lightest Flagship February beer, but its flavor and its history continue to make it unique enough to continue standing the test of time.
No matter where inspiration lies in the craft beer space, one of these beers has made a mark on your favorite brewer and brewery. Try a 5oz pour, a pint, or take some of this liquid creativity home with you today.