The airline and Sam Adams' Jim Koch are planning some surprises for an October 5 flight.
JetBlue inflight beer tasting
Credit: Courtesy of Sam Adams

Cross-country flights can be dull. Generally the only good ways to pass the time are watching movies you'd never pay to see in the theaters, taking naps, or indulging in an often mediocre drink selection. That won’t be the case for lucky passengers on one upcoming voyage.

On October 5th, passengers on JetBlue Flight 97, an evening flight from New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Denver, Colorado, will make history by participating in the first ever inflight beer tasting. It is open to the public; anyone who wants to participate just needs to buy a ticket for the correct flight (as of this writing a one way ticket on the flight is available for $279).

Many passengers on board will likely be headed to the Great American Beer Festival, the massive Denver event that, this year, features 800 breweries serving at least 3,800 brews. Over 60,000 attendees will sample award-winning selections, indulge in cheese pairings in the food section or dance the night away at a silent disco. It also falls during Oktoberfest, providing even greater incentive for beer enthusiasts to go wild.

Instead of making GABF drinkers wait until they touch down to start sampling their favorite beverage, JetBlue, in conjunction with Samuel Adams, decided to offer a tasting on the flight. “JetBlue is providing our tasting room in the sky, and as the ‘brewer attendant,’ I’m bringing the beer,” said Jim Koch, Sam Adam’s head brewer and founder. “We get to surprise a flight of like-minded beer enthusiasts with a craft beer flight above the clouds. It’s pretty awesome.” The companies also worked together in 2013 to introduce the first Sam Adams canned brews inflight.

The festivities will start at approximately 9 p.m. when the plane reaches 30,000 feet and the pilot signals it is safe to move about the cabin. Flight attendants will quickly offer the standard salty snack and Coca-Cola product offering. Then they will hand out three tasting cups on a sampling pad, the same set-up visitors get when they sample products at Koch’s Boston Brewery.

Koch himself will be leading the tasting over the PA systems. He will talk passengers through each selection, guiding them on how to smell, taste, and look at each beer. He will then walk up and down the aisles answering any questions. At this point he’s only revealed one of the beers that will be onboard: Sam Adams Octoberfest, a Märzen style beer. The other two pours will be a surprise. “One will be an extreme beer coveted by beer geeks,” said Koch. The other will be “a new experimental brew from the Samuel Adams nano brewery.”

Because no Oktoberfest celebration is complete without the proper outfits, all flight crew will be decked out in Bavarian Hats and passengers will receive their own in a swag bag. They’ll also get a Samuel Adams tasting paddle, a paddle opener and Koch’s book, Quench Your Own Thirst, Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two.

And the tasting isn’t all this flight crew has in store. “We’ve got a few beer-themed activities up our sleeves,” said Koch. “Let’s just say the passengers on the flight to Denver will be entertained, and we’re going to help them get ready for the weekend’s festivities.”