Passengers who have thirsted for a better beer experience on a flight are in luck — a tasty addition to the drinks menu is coming to one of Europe’s major airlines.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is gearing up to be the first airline to serve draught beer on tap.
The game-changing development will follow years of experimenting with keg designs to produce the perfect schooner at high altitude.
Dutch brewing giant Heineken found the winning formula with an innovative keg design, and the prototype will be used on KLM’s European flights.
The carrier had hoped to launch the tap service earlier this month but had to postpone it until it secured the necessary safety certificates from civil aviation authorities.
Once it gets the green light, KLM passengers will be able to forgo the tinnies for a proper pint of draught, pub-style.
“We are always looking for typical Dutch products to set us apart from other companies,” KLM in-flight services vice president Miriam Kartman said.
“Heineken is our beer partner for many years, and we both know that customers rate a beer from draught higher than out of a can.”
Heineken’s Edwin Griffioen, who designed the product, said it was no easy feat to overcome the challenges of dispensing beer under the conditions of a cabin. CO2 cartridges, which are used in home tap installations, are prohibited on airplanes.
“Because the air pressure is so much lower in an aeroplane than at sea level, a traditional beer tap will not work as it will only dispense a huge amount of foam,” he said.
“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, 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.”
The taste of the beer was unchanged by the innovative process, Heineken said.
Four kegs of beer would be loaded onto each flight after being delivered cold to Amsterdam Airport, according to the plans.
Griffioen said the drinks trolley had been redesigned to resemble “a giant Thermos flask”, which will keep the beer at the right temparture for service.
“We managed to set the diameter of the tap and the air pressure to exactly the right combination, which delivers at 36,000 feet exactly the same beer as you would get on the ground.”
KLM hopes to introduce the beer keg on select flights from next month.