Beer tasting flights tend to arrive bar-side in expected doses. At microbreweries, they're typically the current releases, at bars and gastropubs, tasting flights are often grouped by theme – laid back California IPAs, amped-up Belgian ales, the newest arrivals on tap. But at Simmzy's in Manhattan Beach, the Dealer's Choice flight really is something of a card game. Whomever is behind the bar pouring pints asks you a few questions about your beer preferences (IPAs, Belgians, dark, light?) and puts together a sampling of four beers. Pretty great idea.

“Basically I get to sum up people, try to see what I think they might like,” said our bartender, grinning, when we asked him earlier this week how he chooses what brews to pour. “A tasting flight that shows different styles, all IPAs, or maybe some really hard to find beers.” And therein lies the fun — and potential frustration — of leaving the dealer in charge of what's in you pint glass.

Dealer's Choice Consolation Prize: Chocoalte S'mores Pudding; Credit: J. Garbee

Dealer's Choice Consolation Prize: Chocoalte S'mores Pudding; Credit: J. Garbee

Our bartender chose that broad spectrum of styles for our four tasting glasses, a light German beer, an Irish red, an IPA and a stout. The last two, Russian River's Blind Pig IPA and Bootlegger's mint chocolate stout, were the only beers that we might have (and did) order. We're not often fans of lighter end of the beer spectrum, or Irish reds, unless it is a particularly hard-to-find beer — a question that we weren't asked. That someone in our party of three was already sipping a pint of the Russian River IPA, a great beer we've long admired, before we ordered the Dealer's Choice (something we assume our bartender had forgotten) made that local malty stout the clear tasting glass winner.

It turns out the beer version of a Dealer's Choice isn't all that much different than in poker. You win some, you lose some. Which is really half the fun of a tasting glass.

Simmzy's: Dealer's Choice tasting flight of 4 beers, $11.

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