KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will begin serving beer on tap at 35,000 feet next month.
After years of development and experimentation with high altitudes and pressure changes, Heineken found a way to have a draft beer — served from a keg rather than a bottle or a can — in the sky.
“Because the air pressure is so much lower in an airplane than at sea level, a traditional beer tap will not work as it will only dispense a huge amount of foam,” Heineken’s Edwin Griffioen said in a statement. “We do have dispensers that work on air pressure, but these were too big to fit in a plane.”
“It was one big jigsaw puzzle,” he said, “as the keg of beer, the cooling system and the air pressure compressor all had to fit in an airline catering trolley. In the end we had to leave out one of those pieces to make it all fit, so with pain in our hearts we had to leave the cooling behind.”
KLM is not the very first airline to have a mid-air keg, however. In 2010, Japan's All Nippon Airlines managed to get a keg on board.
KLM, meanwhile, says that offering draft Heineken helps it to stand out from its competition.
“We are always looking for typical Dutch products to set us apart from other companies,” Miriam Kartman, KLM in-flight services vice president, said in a statement. “Customers rate a beer from draught higher than out of a can.”
KLM plans to begin serving the crisp brew beginning next month.