How To: DIY Beer Tasting Flight Tray

A cooler full of beer is a staple at backyard gatherings, and having a big brand that everyone likes is a good way to start off your backyard party. However, with all the different types of beer available, and with your guests’ different tastes, why not give them a chance to try something new? At the same time, make something yourself so you can also try something new! Here is a guide to creating your own beer tasting flight so you can experience and share a full complement of summer drinks.

Generally made of wood, a beer flight is portable and holds at least three different tasting glasses. These glasses are generally smaller than regular beer glasses, allowing more beers to be tasted without serving up too much. Usually there is a spot beside each glass holder where the type of beer can be identified. We’re going to create a beer flight with four spots for glasses with a chalkboard area to label the type of beer.

Here are the tools and materials you’ll need:

  • Two pieces of wood (This is the board that will hold the drinks, so choose carefully!)
    One 1x6x8 cut to 12”x6”
    One ½x6x8 cut to 12”x3”
  • Two wood clamps
  • Wood glue
  • Drill press (You can use a handheld drill, but the bit that is needed is easier to use in a press.)
  • Forstner bit (This bit creates a wide, shallow hole that the base of your glasses will sit on. If you have specific glasses in mind, choose a size that matches them. If not, a 2” bit is a safe estimate.)
  • Sandpaper
  • Chalkboard paint, paint roller, painter’s tape
  • Mineral oil (You can also use beeswax.)
  • Four rubber bumpers. (These will prevent the flight from sliding on a table.)

Instructions:

1. Cut and sand the wood. Your top piece of wood will be 12”x3” and the bottom piece will be 12”x6”. After these pieces are cut to size, sand them nice and smooth. This beer flight will be handled a lot so you’ll want to make sure any rough spots are sanded well.

2. Paint the 12”x6” piece with chalkboard paint. To do this, place the painter’s tape about three-quarters up your bottom piece of wood. You will be painting the three-quarter side. Paint up to and on the painter’s tape for a clean line and do a second coat after it dries.

3. Mark spots on the 12”x3” piece. To make the four holes even, make a pencil mark at 1-½” in from the left side length wise and 1-½” width wise. Your second mark will be 3” to the right of the first, the third mark is 3” to the right of the second and the last mark is 3” from the third. This will leave you with a half-inch left on the right side.

4. Drill the holes. Place two clamps to hold the top piece to the bottom piece. The top should line up to the edges of the non-painted side of the bottom. Whether you’re using a drill press or handheld drill, carefully place your bit on the middle of your four pencil marks and make four holes.

5. Glue the top and bottom pieces. Take off the clamps, apply wood glue to the bottom of the top piece, and reattach it with the clamps to hold it in place. Follow the instructions on the back of the wood glue for correct drying time. It will take at least 24 hours.

6. Apply the mineral oil or beeswax. Rub it on the top piece and inside the four holes. There’s a good chance there will be some spillage of the drinks, and these products will protect your beer flight from liquid damage.

7. Attach the rubber bumpers. Stick the four bumpers to the four corners on the underside of the bottom piece.

Once you’ve made it to this point, you’re done! Now it’s time to invite some friends and pick up some tasty, local brews to taste and share. Try to choose a variety of types of beer so you get the full tasting experience. Summer is a great time for fruitier IPAs, sours, wheat beers, and ciders. Flights can also be used for tasting liqueur, nuts, hot sauces or even candies. Pick out a unique selection, label each using chalk and enjoy your handmade flight with great company.