Your tastebuds change up in a metal tube in the sky. So does your sense of smell. It's part of the reason why most in-flight meals are somewhere between “awful” and “forgettable.”
And the same is true for drinks. It's harder to savor a complex wine or beer in the pressurized altitude. Airlines have an answer.
Cathay Pacific and British Airways have both brewed in-flight beers specifically to hold up at 35,000 feet.
British Airways is the latest airline to get into the brewing game with Speedbird 100, a “Transatlantic IPA” named with the airline's call sign. British Airways partnered with Scottish craft brewery BrewDog to crank out this beer in celebration of the airline's 100th birthday.
But in a twist, Speedbird 100 wasn't just brewed to taste better at altitude. It was actually brewed at altitude: The brewers began the process at 40,000 feet.
“The key thing is that the bitterness and fruit flavors aren’t really affected by the altitude, so we wanted to play on those two things and ramp up the sweetness,” brewery co-founder Martin Dickie said in the announcement of the new brew. “We really hope British Airways customers love Speedbird 100 as much as we do.”
Speedbird 100 was first released May 1. It's available on select short- and long-haul British Airways flights, as well as in some British Airways lounges.
And then there's Cathay Pacific. The Hong Kong (HKG)-based airline started serving “Betsy” back in 2017, a beloved beer that was made in tandem with Hong Kong Beer Co. It's made with dragonfruit, locally sourced honey, and special hops to stay flavorful in the air.
It was only available in Cathay Pacific lounges and select flights to the U.S., Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan. And it disappeared from the skies sometime last year.
But Betsy, named for the airline's very first plane, is making a comeback. Cathay Pacific apparently plans to bring back the beer as part of its ongoing rebranding campaign, according to Mumbrella. It's unclear exactly when Betsy Beer will be served again, or on which routes.
Lead photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific