A row of Betsy beer bottles that will be available on board Cathay Pacific aircraft.

Cheers to Craft Beer in the Skies

28 February 2017

Your tastebuds aren’t themselves when they’re in the air, subject as they are to the vicissitudes of cabin pressure and altitude. That means food and, more importantly, drink tastes different.

Flying to the rescue is Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific, which last week launched Besty Beer, billed as the world’s first hand-crafted bottled beer brewed specifically to be enjoyed at 35,000 feet.

Betsy – named after Cathay Pacific’s first aircraft – will be served to First and Business Class passengers between Hong Kong and the UK from March 1 to April 30. It will also be available in Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong and Heathrow, as well as selected Hong Kong restaurants.

Produced with the help of Hong Kong Beer Co, Betsy uses ingredients from the UK and Hong Kong – namely British hop Fuggle, along with Dragon Eye fruit, and honey from the New Territories.

A bottle of Betsy bear and some snacks in a Cathay Pacific aircraft. Betsy - flavoured with British hops and New Territories honey - is a high-altitude brew.

Cathay Pacific general manager marketing, loyalty program and CRM Julian Lyden said: “To help passengers experience something memorable for the first time is a big part of what we mean by ‘travelling well’. Betsy Beer is a great example of this – a beautifully crafted product designed purely with the traveller, and beer lover, in mind.”

The airline assembled an expert tasting panel, consisting of members of the Hong Kong Craft Beer Association, top chefs and hospitality figures, cabin crew, Marco Polo Club members and more, to get the flavour just right.

Also flying the flag for better beer above the clouds is Scandinavian Airlines, which has collaborated with the Danish Mikkeller microbrewery to create craft beer that tastes good at high altitude.

Late last year, Mikeller held a high-altitude beer tasting on board – the two companies have now done nine different beers together and is working on a brand new series to be released this year. Also keep an ear to the ground for more Mikkeller Sky High Beer Tastings.


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Renae Spinks

Travel for me is about conversations and connections. There’s nothing like setting foot in a new land and meeting people a world apart. From talking to North Sea fishermen in Norway’s Lofoten Islands to breakfast chat at a B&B in my own back yard, there’s always a story to share and a tale to tell.