By Malia Paasch
In a Navy town, the word “flagship” suggests the commanding vessel in a fleet. But in the craft beer world, it’s a brewery’s most recognized beer. These beers help establish a brewery’s brand and are usually a selection of the first ones released.
The key to a great flagship brew is accessibility. It must appeal to a broad spectrum of drinkers, while also carrying a signature element that identifies the brewery. This may seem impossible to achieve in just one beer so most breweries have a collection of three to four to represent their brand.
Although a brewery’s flagship beers may not be its most exciting, they often pave the way for special releases and barrel-aging programs by providing a steady stream of income for the brewery. Here are some of the newest flagship beers on the market from a few of our local breweries.
O’Connor Brewing Company
Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a cream head
Aroma: Notes of cereal, malt and corn husks tickle the nose
Taste: Refreshing with a slight grassy finish and hints of cereal
Mouthfeel: Effervescent and dry
Drinkability: For craft beer drinkers migrating toward more subtle styles to balance out their IPA palates
Food pairing: Soft pretzel with beer cheese
The Virginia Beer Company
Appearance: Pours bright golden yellow with a white head
Aroma: Lemony and herbaceous
Taste: An initial tartness gives way to candied lemon and sea salt
Mouthfeel: Silky on the tongue with medium carbonation
Drinkability: For the growing number of sour beer lovers among craft beer drinkers
Food pairing: Lemongrass chicken
Rip Rap Brewing Company
Appearance: Pours an amber color with golden highlights and a bright white, diminishing head
Aroma: Sweet notes of candied orange and caramel malt
Taste: A blend of caramel, honey and citrus
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and easy drinking
Drinkability: This is Rip Rap’s 100 percent Virginia brewed ale. It’s always fun when breweries try and source all local ingredients for flagship beers.
Food Pairing: Barbecue and potato salad
Game On IPA
Smartmouth Brewing Company
Appearance: Orange with pale yellow highlights and an ivory colored, persistent head
Aroma: Fruity, with notes of grapefruit zest and pineapple
Taste: Tropical with mango and lemongrass shining through
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with a slight bitter linger and medium carbonation
Drinkability: A bit of a revamp to Rule G, which it replaced, and a bit fruitier
Food pairing: Grilled pineapple and chicken wings