Matthew Miller
Feb 22, 2017

Meet Betsy: Cathay Pacific's beer 'brewed for 35,000 feet'

Named after the airline's first aircraft and brewed in Hong Kong, the beverage is supposedly formulated for in-flight consumption.

Meet Betsy: Cathay Pacific's beer 'brewed for 35,000 feet'

Cathay Pacific and McCann Worldgroup have literally bottled aspirational experiential marketing by introducing a private-label craft beer that will be served to first- and business-class passengers.

Made by Hong Kong Beer Co., the brew, dubbed Betsy after the airline's first aircraft, is "brewed to be enjoyed at 35,000 feet", according to the companies.

The airline will first serve Betsy—which contains UK-sourced hops, honey from Hong Kong and dragon-eye fruit—to first- and business-class passengers on flights between Hong Kong and the UK during March and April.

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 during March and April.

The airline said it will be open to continuing to offer the beer or extending the route coverage, depending on the reception.

Cathay Pacific has not gone into detail about how exactly the beer is engineered for in-flight taste. A statement mentions that cabin pressure and altitude affect taste buds and asserts that "a combination of science and traditional brewing methods" gives the beer the "necessary carbonation to taste great both in the air and on the ground". [Doesn't that statement apply to any reasonably decent beer? - Ed.]

Update: After initial publication, McCann got in touch with the following information about the science of the suds:

  • For a sensory experience that has unique mouthfeel, Betsy Beer has an increased carbonation 10 percent higher than for a sea-level beer.
  • Higher CO2 levels are known to stimulate flavour receptors on the tongue, increasing taste at 35,000 feet.
  • As a wheat beer, Betsy Beer retains flavour, while reducing the bitterness that many other beers have at altitude.
  • As an unfiltered brew, Betsy Beer retains layers of texture and complexity.
  • Unfiltered yeast in wheat beer is also a source of Vitamin B, which is well-known for its restorative properties.

There's also a video that covers the above points and the surprisingly rigourous development process:

The airline has clearly taken this effort seriously, and Campaign Asia-Pacific hereby recants its initial snarky skepticism.

Said Julian Lyden, Cathay Pacific general manager of marketing, loyalty programme and CRM:

We know that when you fly, your sense of taste changes. 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.

Editor's note: Campaign Asia-Pacific is in receipt of two bottles of Betsy. We will endeavour to conduct a taste test and let you know the results. Our test will take place at ground level, howeverunless someone wants to help us attain the proper altitude for a truly scientific trial? 


Update, 24 February: We tried it


A tasting panel participated in the beer's creation. L-R: Aby Chiu, Cathay flight purser; Grace Cheung, Cathay manager of global marketing communications; Devin Kimble, director of Hong Kong Beer Co; Aaron Claxton, Cathay head of catering; Real Ting, co-founder of the Collaboration Group; Thomas Lau, Chairman of Hong Kong Craft Beer Association; Crystal Chen, Cathay inflight service manager.


McCann Worldgroup - Cathay Pacific Central Team
Brandon Cheung, Managing Partner
Martin Lever, Executive Creative Director
Guilherme Pecego, Creative Director
Dan Jacques, Associate Creative Director
Daniel Cheong, Senior Art Director
Wong Wai Ping, Art Director
Mok Ngo, Art Director
Adrienne Andaya, Art Director
Aneeza Arshad, Junior Art Director
George Cheung, Visualiser
Juvenia Poon, Senior Chinese Copywriter
Yvonne Cheng, Junior Chinese Copywriter
Jules O’Brien, English Copywriter
Kwoksum Pun, Senior Developer MRM/McCann Hong Kong

Business Planning & Management Team
Julia Broughton, Group Account Director
Julian Egli, Account Manager
Leo Pang, Senior Account Executive

Channel Planning Team
Prashant Galani, Digital Manager

Operations Team
Kat Pau, Creative Services Manager
Doris Law, Project Executive
Charlotte Tse, Assistant Digital Producer
Christopher Chiu, Studio Manager

Weber Shandwick – Hong Kong
Eugenia Chow, Senior Vice President
Maggie Tang, Vice President
Cindy Leung, Senior Consultant
Shanice Wong, Senior Consultant
Claudia Chan, Account Coordinator

Campaign Asia

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