Study Reveals the Best Beer Menus in the Friendly Skies

Have you ever wondered which airline offers passengers the best selection of beer? It’s doubtful that it would impact your travel plans, but it’s interesting to see which domestic airlines offer beer lovers the best choices. According to a recent study of airborne beer menus, Delta Airlines provides its passengers with the best beer selection, with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines ranking second.

The study conducted by used Beer Advocate’s ratings to determine which domestic airlines offer the best beers. They looked at each airline’s beer menu (below) and calculated an average score using Beer Advocate’s numbers.

In my mind, that’s a pretty fair way to determine this kind of ranking, but there are a few things to note.

None of the airlines offer the kind of beer selection that would impress beer lovers. This could be a result of the sheer amount of beer required to service an airline like United or Delta. More likely, it is a function of beer apathy at the corporate level.

All of the beer menus are riddled with crappy beer and “crafty” beer. I imagine corporate mucky-mucks patting themselves on the back for offering Blue Moon as an option for people who want the good stuff, or being oblivious to the fact that Anheuser-Busch owns Goose Island, which renders it undesirable to the growing number of hardcore beer aficionados.

The most-affordable beer comes from Spirit Airlines, which offers its “better beers” for just $6 each. They also offer a deal: two for $10 or three for $14. If you like Dos Equis, that might sound pretty sweet until you consider the fact that Spirit also offers the smallest seats.

Finally, Alaska Airlines probably missed the top ranking because they offer the worst beer. Sure, they offer some decent beers (at least Alaskan Brewing is a real craft brewery), but they also offer Bud Light, which scores a dismally low 48 on Beer Advocate. Alaska Airlines would probably be on top if they served Miller Lite (scores 55) instead of Bud Light.

Here’s the beer menus for each airline, along with their scores:

Alaska Airlines serves Alaskan Amber (82), Alaskan Freeride APA (85), Kona Longboard (77), Bud Light (48) and Heineken (67). Average score: 71.8.

American Airlines pours Samuel Adams Boston Lager (86), Budweiser (58), Bud Light (48), Dos Equis (64) and Heineken (67). Average score: 64.6.

Delta Air Lines offers Blue Moon Belgian White (78), Heineken (67), Miller Lite (55), Samuel Adams (86) and Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale (82). Average score: 73.6.

Frontier Airlines serves Fat Tire Amber Ale (82), Heineken (67) and Coors Light (51). Average score: 66.6.

JetBlue is the only airline with a cider, Angry Orchard (43), Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale (81), Bud Light (48), Harpoon UFO (82), Heineken (67) and Samuel Adams Boston Lager (86). Average score: 67.8.

Southwest Airlines offers Bud Light (48), Miller Lite (55), Dos Equis (64) Fat Tire Amber Ale (82) and Leinenkugel’s Cranberry Ginger Shandy (77). Average score: 65.2.

Spirit Airlines pours Bud Light, (48), Budweiser (58), Miller Lite (55) and Dos Equis (64). Average score: 56.25.

United Airlines serves Budweiser (58), Miller Lite (55), Goose IPA (83), Heineken, (67) and Samuel Adams Winter Lager (82). Average score: 69.

Virgin America serves Anchor Steam Lager (87), as well as Bud Light (48) and Heineken (67). Average score: 67.3.

See the story on


Cheers to our sponsors, like...


  1. Cool bit Kendall – thanks. I fly AK air almost exclusively and I’ve always wondered what the “other guys” pour. Let’s face it: they are all pretty lame. United wins in my book – at least they offer an IPA. Last time I flew Virgin they poured 21st amendment IPA in a can which I thought was progressive. I’ve never understood why more airlines don’t use cans? Lighter, more easily disposed. Duh. Finally, Alaska is the worst with a regional offering. Based in SEATTLE, they should have a nice canned offering from a Seattle brewery. Alaskan Amber is just gross…

  2. Gotta be careful with the Alaska ranking – they serve their crappy beer and the Alaska beer on all routes, but that Kona selection is only available to and from Hawaii. I believe they pour something Mexican to and from Mexico too, but not sure on that one.

    Virgin has good branding and pours 21A, which is based in their west coast hub of SF.

  3. How does Horizon not get mentioned? At least under Alaska. Does craft beer offerings for free not count for anything?

  4. re: Alaska, It’s true: the Kona only to/from Hawai’i, the Corona only to/from Mexico. Basically it’s Alaskan Amber, Heineken and Bud most of the time.

    While they’ve had the Pale Ale in the Board Room, I have yet to see it actually on the plane a single time since they added it to the drinks menu (a few months ago I think?).

Comments are closed.