Cathay Pacific introduced its new brew, Betsy, to passengers Wednesday, which is apparently best enjoyed in a cramped metal tube miles above the Earth.
While some airline passengers traveling Wednesday got stuck eating stale peanuts on their flights, dozens of lucky travelers aboard a Hong Kong–based airline got to sample speciality beer specifically engineered to taste best at 35,000 feet, the New York Times reports.
Cathay Pacific’s new brew, Betsy, was released on Wednesday, and it combines the flavors of honey, dragon eye fruit, and Fuggle—a hop common to British ales—to give it a rich, earthy flavor that’s apparently best enjoyed in a cramped metal tube miles above the earth. The beer was reportedly taste-tested by expert chefs and brewers in Asia, as well as airline crew members.
"We know that when you fly, your sense of taste changes," Cathay general marketing manager, Julian Lyden, said in a press release. "We are constantly looking for innovative and meaningful ways to enhance the travel experience for our customers… Betsy Beer is a great example of this."
Apparently, airplane food tastes bad due to a number of environmental factors onboard the aircraft like low pressure, dry air, and even constant background noise. Studies have shown that salty and sweet flavors are muted at high altitudes, whereas the savory umami taste is amplified.
Cathay’s specialty beer isn’t the first beverage of its kind formulated for taste buds at a high altitudes. Specialty brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergso created his own line of airplane beer for Scandinavian airline SAS in 2014, after conducting several tasting experiments on planes. Additionally, Charles Spence, an Oxford University researcher who advises airlines on food, says that certain wines taste better in the stratosphere, like those made from Chilean grapes grown and blended at a high altitude.