Food tastes different on a plane than it does on the ground. Your taste buds are dulled at altitude. Most planes are pressurized to 8000 feet, while newer generation aircraft like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 are pressurized to 6000 feet.
That’s why tomato juice is a surprisingly popular drink on planes (and here I thought it was because tomato juice is an excellent source of vitamin c and vodka).
You’ve got to take this into account when figuring out how to get the most out of inflight catering. American’s approach to choosing wines in business class is to select ‘fruit bombs’ — very fruit forward wines that will maintain their character in the air. Many subtle wines, great wines, simply don’t taste special in the air and aren’t worth the cost.
Singapore Airlines goes so far as to have a pressurized tasting room. Normally taste tests of wine and picking what people like doesn’t help, since it doesn’t match how those wines will taste in the air. Singapore has designed the conditions on the ground to be able to see how thing will taste in actual flight conditions. Champagnes generally work well in the air though.
KLM has figured out how to make tap beer work on a plane, which is great. I haven’t tried it at altitude, though, and when ANA tried the same thing years ago they eventually killed it because it just didn’t taste very good. (And no — despite marketing to the contrary — KLM wasn’t first with this idea.)
Cathay Pacific is the latest to claim they’ve got a magic formula for beer. And it’s not the novelty of serving tap beer on the plane. Instead it’s brewed specifically to be served at altitude — it’s an unfiltered wheat beer with 10% more carbonation to stimulate flavor receptors. They’re launching it in premium cabins next month on the Hong Kong – London route.
If you want to try it on the ground — and that sort of seems to miss the point — you can.
It will also be available in the airline’s lounges in Hong Kong and Heathrow, will be served for a limited time in a few Swire-owned restaurants in Hong Kong (Mr & Mrs Fox, Café Gray Deluxe, Plat du Jour, Public, Sugar and The Continental) and will be available online (for Hong Kong buyers only) through deli-delight.com during March and April.
They haven’t made any decisions on additional routes, or continuing past April. We’ll have to see whether it’s better received than ANA’s attempt at selling tap beer on a plane.
(HT: The Winglet)