In-flight drinking often gets a bad press – particularly when the passengers are British – but there’s nothing wrong with beer in moderation, which is why British Airways and Scottish craft brewery, BrewDog, have teamed up to create a transatlantic ale to celebrate – wait for it – British Airways’ self-proclaimed ‘centenary’.

Centenary? But British Airways was founded in 1974.

It gets complicated. The starting point from which BA measures its anniversary is 25 August 1919 – the day a tiny airline called Aircraft Transport and Travel began the world’s first scheduled international air service, from London to Paris.

That airline went bust the following year and was absorbed by another, then another, eventually being incorporated into the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), which merged with British European Airways in 1974 to form British Airways. As Wikipedia notes: “Through a series of takeovers and mergers, the modern-day British Airways can trace part of its legacy back to Aircraft Transport and Travel.”

Anyway, it’s a good excuse for a beer or two. With the help of British Airways cabin crew, BrewDog founders Martin Dickie and James Watt started the brewing process aboard one of the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners, while cruising 800 km/h over the north of Scotland.

The expert brewers mixed water, hops and barley in the onboard beverage makers to start the mashing part of the brewing process. You can watch how they did it here.

Cans of the bespoke IPA (India pale ale), named Speedbird 100 after the airline’s call sign, will be exclusively available to British Airways customers on board all long-haul and short-haul flights and in selected lounges from 1 May 2019.

The recipe has been specifically brewed to work perfectly in the air and adapt to the reduction in taste and smell sensitivity at high altitudes.

British Airways’ head of brand and marketing, Hamish McVey, said the airline was “hugely excited” to have partnered with BrewDog, which it said was another British brand committed to bringing the best of Britain to the world.

“Alongside our GBP 6.5 billion investment program we want to work with industry leaders to ensure travelling with British Airways is an unforgettable experience, so this partnership is a fantastic union.”

In another first, BrewDog will open its first bar in New York in British Airways’ Club lounge at JFK’s Terminal 7. Customers will be able to enjoy BrewDog’s headline craft beers, along with Speedbird 100.

BrewDog’s co-founder Martin Dickie, noted that the beer’s bitterness and fruit flavours “aren’t really affected by the altitude, so we wanted to play on those two things and ramp up the sweetness. We really hope British Airways customers love Speedbird 100 as much as we do.”

British Airways will be releasing a series of ‘centenary editions’ in partnership with British brands during its milestone year. The airline partnered with luxury British watchmakers Bremont on the launch of a new limited-edition timepiece, featuring metal from one of the most famous and iconic planes in history – Concorde.

As part of British Airways’ GBP 6.5 billion investment, the airline also recently revealed its new business class seat and introduced changes to its First, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller cabins, including catering from Do&Co and on-board Wi-Fi.

Edited by Peter Needham