Craft beer onboard

Wine has always been a priority in premium cabins, but craft beer is having an in-flight moment

In cooperation with Denmark’s Mikkeller, SAS is the first airline in the world to develop a beer specially crafted for the onboard environment, with a range of limited edition beers delighting both connoisseurs and novices for more than three years.

The beer is designed exclusively for flights, with high elevation and cabin conditions — such as pressure, oxygen and humidity — in mind. The first craft beer produced by Mikkeller for SAS was the Sky-High WIT trilogy, which debuted on the launch of the Houston route in August 2014.

Mikkeller is often described as a “gypsy brewery,” because it changes brewing location depending on what sort of taste profile they want. That they have more than 1,000 recipes in their repertoire makes them even more unique.

Over the past three years, Mikkeller has, in cooperation with SAS, produced 13 different beers using various brewing techniques, including “Sweet and Sour,” a big bottle variety introduced on the new route to Hong Kong, China, in 2015. The result is bottled in 1888 bottles, referencing the number eight, a symbol of good fortune in Chinese culture.

“In Scandinavia, we have a tradition of creating craft beer and we love being able to offer guests a unique experience with our Food & Beverage offerings,” says Peter Lawrance, Head Chef & Meal Planning Manager, SAS. “Our focus is on quality, not brands or labels, and now our craft beers have not only become part of our identity but also an inspiration across the industry.”

Each unique bottle is numbered and all batches are kept to a minimum.

Even more unique is the label design, which is inspired by vintage SAS posters and incorporates the color Pantone 2738 blue from the original SAS logo.

“As we continue to release new beers from Mikkeller the aim is to present a selection of different styles and origins,” Lawrance says. Keep an eye out for two new beers from Mikkeller – “Northern Lights” is a classic IPA that mixes bright crisp citrus with light malt, while “Wing Pin Series 2” is a deep, magenta ale with earthy beetroot notes combined with a tart zing.

A few airlines have tried offering an elevated beer experience in flight. In 2010, ANA became the first airline to make draft beer available in flight. However, passengers had to pay 1,000 yen for them, and each flight only had about 20 glasses available.

In 2010, All Nippon Airways offered draft beer in-flight.

In 2010, All Nippon Airways offered draft beer in-flight.

Earlier this year, KLM announced that they have partnered with Heineken to make a special beer cart. The cart allows flight attendants to serve freshly tapped Heineken to Business Class passengers. However, KLM used a 3D printer to make the components of the beer cart, so there’s actually only one cart available for the entire fleet.

Cathay Pacific also offers its own craft brew called Betsy Beer, which was created for high altitudes as well.

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