British Airways worked with the Scottish brand BrewDog on a new exclusive beer.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated April 09, 2019
British Airways

Once on a path to being two of the most important names in international craft brewing, BrewDog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie have turned into the beer equivalent of Barnum and Bailey, running an operation with as much showmanship as substance (if not more). In recent years, the Scottish brand they launched in 2007 has become enamored with strange publicity stunts over adding interesting or tasty beers to their portfolio. Frankly, if you want to focus on marketing, fair enough, but some of their latest proclamations have even been built on quasi-truths. For instance, back in March, BrewDog claimed to offer the “first-ever” in-flight beer tasting despite the fact that they needed a number of qualifiers to make that even close to being true. Now they’re back with another audacious claim that we need to inspect: “the first-ever beer made on an airplane.”

British Airways

Dickie makes that statement to conclude a promotional video from British Airways touting the forthcoming release of Speedbird 100: Transatlantic Pale Ale, a new creation from BrewDog slated to be “exclusively available to British Airways customers on board all long-haul and short-haul flights and in selected lounges from May 1,” explains BA. The beer — named after BA’s call sign with an added 100 to celebrate British Airway’s 100th anniversary this year — is said to be specifically built “to work perfectly in the air and adapt to the reduction in taste and smell sensitivity at high altitudes.”

Needless to say, the large number of beers served to customers will not be brewed aboard a British Airways plane. That’s just common sense. But Dickie seems to imply that at least one initial batch was, despite the fact that even British Airways tempers this statement in its announcement. “BrewDog founders Martin Dickie and James Watt started the brewing process on board one of the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners, while cruising 500mph over the north of Scotland,” BA writes. “The expert brewers mixed water, hops and barley in the onboard beverage makers to start the mashing part of the brewing process.”

“Started the process” would seem like an accurate assessment: The extent to which throwing ingredients into coffee pots is “making” a beer is a bit dubious, and even if this did prove sufficient for mashing, there are still plenty of steps left to go before a beer is “made” (not even including the week or more of fermentation). Also, though coffee pots are a fun idea, they certainly don’t offer the quality control of proper brewing equipment, meaning whatever was brewed on board likely wasn’t as good as what was made on terra firma.

Of course, some simply might say “Who cares?” It’s a valid point — and one I don’t entirely disagree with. But if we’re going to have to continue to watch the global takeover of BrewDog, it would be nice if it was at least happening for the right reasons: the beer. If all I wanted was audacious marketing campaigns, I’d be drinking corn syrup-free Bud Light.