Getting a good drink on an airplane is hard to do. If you like red wine, you can shake it up and get more flavor. If you want to play it safe with a drink you know will taste good you can just stick to Bloody Marys. But if you’re an avid beer drinker, you’ve been out of luck because the taste-sucking qualities of modern flight drains every bit of enjoyment out of your brew. Until now.
Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific partnered with Hong Kong Beer Co. to make Betsy Beer, which is made with the “ingredients, aroma and necessary carbonation to taste great both in the air and on the ground,” according to a press release. It’s loaded with Fuggle hops from England, Hong Kong honey, and a sweet fruit called longan, which is also known as “Dragon Eye.”
That last bit is where the secret lies.
“The inclusion of ‘Dragon Eye’ fruit is a unique characteristic of the beverage,” the press release explains. “Known for its aromatic properties, the fruit adds to the round, rich, textural properties that make the beer distinctive.”
Various studies have found several reasons why everything tastes worse in the air. Loud noises (such as jet engines) negatively impact taste, as well as pressurized plane cabins that are cool and dry. Every flavor except for umami (sweet, salty, bitter, and sour) is muted. That’s why Bloody Marys are so palatable — the umami flavor of tomatoes really pops in the air.
So Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong Beer Co. brought together a tasting team, put them in the air, and tested beers until they landed on an ale “that has travel in its DNA.”
“We know that when you fly, your sense of taste changes,” Julian Lyden, Cathay Pacific’s general marketing manager, says in the press release. “Airlines address this for food in certain ways. But nobody has ever tried to improve the taste of beer at altitude. That seemed like a great opportunity for us to help our beer-loving passengers travel well.”
Mile high never tasted so good.