The altitude, cabin pressure and constant noise associated with air travel can dull taste buds by 30 percent. It’s why airplane food tastes so bland, and why tomato juice tastes so good. Seeking to combat the warped in-flight sensory experience, Cathay Pacific Airlines teamed up with Hong Kong Beer Company to produce Betsy, a beer optimized for consumption at 35,000 feet.
Available exclusively to first- and business-class passengers on flights between Hong Kong and Heathrow and Hong Kong and Manchester, as well as in Cathay Pacific lounges at Hong Kong International Airport, Betsy is an unfiltered wheat beer with an ABV of 5.1%. It’s brewed with UK-sourced Fuggle hops and lychee-like longan fruit and honey from Hong Kong; the beer features decreased bitterness, intended to maximize flavor and aroma. Most importantly, the beer boasts increased carbonation for improved mouthfeel and stimulation of flavor receptors. Gimmicky? Sure. As the team at CampaignAsia discovered, increased carbonation is the beer’s greatest differentiator. Beyond that, it simply tastes like a light beer.
Betsy isn’t the first beer brewed for in-flight consumption, though. As the New York Times points out, Danish gypsy brewery Mikkeller created a series of beers intended for high-altitude consumption for Scandinavian Airlines.