Suds on a plane: the 9 best craft beers served in flight

For everything that's gotten worse with flying -- tiny seats, no food, charging for bags -- there is one bright spot: the beer. Like the airlines' ability to saddle passengers with new fees, it's gotten much, much craftier. 

But what are the best in-flight craft brews? Here are the top nine, and the airlines that serve them.

New Belgium Brewing’s Fat Tire

Southwest Airlines/AirTran 
Earlier this year, “The World's Friendliest Airline” got even friendlier by announcing a deal with Colorado's New Belgium Brewing to serve their popular Fat Tire Amber Ale at altitude.

Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale

United Airlines
When Chicago-based United announced plans to make their in-flight meals suck less, they neglected to mention that they also teamed up with hometown favorite Goose Island Beer Company, and have been pouring the 312 Urban Wheat Ale since July.

Maui Brewing Company’s Bikini Blonde Lager

Hawaiian Air 
Just in time for the annual Alexander family trip to the Big Island, Hawaiian Air announced that Maui Brewing Company’s flagship Bikini Blonde Lager, a filtered Munich Helles, will become its official craft brew this month. Assuming passengers acknowledge their appreciation of the new brew, other Maui Brewing faves should be added down the road.

Surly Brewing Co.’s Furious, Bender, and Hell

Sun Country Airlines
Since February, Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines has been serving three kinds of beer from hometown brewer, Surly -- the Furious IPA, Bender (an Oatmeal Brown Ale), and Hell, an unfiltered German lager. And no, none of them were named after the way passengers feel about the flying experience.

Mikkeller’s SAS Wit

Scandinavian carrier SAS is keepin’ it Nordic, and recently announced a collab with Denmark's Mikkeller craft brewery. The result: Lucky business-class passengers can enjoy their exclusive SAS (or Sky-High) Wit, a Belgian wheat beer "with a summery taste of orange peel and cilantro", on long-haul flights.

koch handing out beers
Sam Adams

Sam Adams' Boston Lager

While not everyone can eat a Saxon + Parole designed meal in JetBlue Mint (the carrier’s luxe first class), they can crack open a ice cold can of Sam Adams. Last year, JetBlue joined forces with the largest American-owned beer maker to sell cans of the Boston brew on flights nationwide.

SweetWater Brewing’s 420 Extra Pale Ale

Delta Airlines
Originally serving SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale on only 34 flights between Atlanta and New York's LaGuardia airport, Delta expanded its service in July and added nine more routes, including most Florida-bound flights.

21st Amendment's Brew Free! or Die IPA 

Virgin America
Proving once again that it’s hip and totally in with the cool airlines, Virgin started offering 21st Amendment's Brew Free! or Die IPA after the brewery's co-founder, Shaun O'Sullivan, tweeted at them (while on board) and suggested they should add his beer to the menu for an even better in-flight experience. So they did. You know, 'cause peer pressure. Everybody's doing it. 

Oskar Blues Brewery’s Dale’s Pale Ale

Frontier Airlines
Denver-based Frontier left the choice of their sky-high suds to the passengers (the only stipulation being that the beer had to be from Colorado) and opened the vote to their Facebook fans, who kindly did us all a solid and chose Dale’s Pale Ale.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's associate travel editor, and is convinced she did something bad in a previous life that's cursed her to always fly within three rows of a screaming child. Follow her @Sohostyle