Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Question for Southwest Airlines? Why do you only sell light lagers?

By William Brand
Friday, June 27th, 2008 at 7:48 am in Uncategorized.

On the road again…to Philadelphia this weekend for a wedding…flew Southwest, an airline I swear by. Only trouble is the beer. All they have is light lagers: Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Heineken.

“Well, what kind of beer would you like us to have, “the flight attendant asked me? I was flummoxed. You know, so many beers, so little time. Started to say something stupid (and desirable to me like St. Bernardus Abt 12). “Uhh Sierra Nevada Pale Ale,” I manated to say. “Well, I really like a cold Coors Light,” another attendent chipped in. Enuf said.

Hint to Southwest: I still love you, but stock at least one beer of a different stripe. You don’t offer five Chardonnay wines. Why five light lagers? Even Delta sells Leinenkugel Wheat. Yes, Miller owns Leiny, but the wheat is decent and not a light lager.

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  • Chuck Purvis

    Hi Bill:

    I just returned from Portland, earlier this week, flying on Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air. Alaska offered a complimentary (as in, free) microbrew on this flight: a Pyramid Longhammer IPA. The complimentary wine was a Washington State merlot. Very nice flight.

    My three favorites beers on this short business trip:
    1. Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale. Kind of like an amaretto beer.
    2. Deschutes Hopness Monster. A total hop bomb served in a monster of a brandy snifter. Fun new brewpub (from established brewer) in the Portland Pearl District.
    3. Full Sail Prodigal Son IPA. Yet another very tasty IPA, served on the sunny shores of the Willamette River…

    Probably can’t find these beers here in the Bay Area, except the Rogue at their taproom in North Beach.


  • Joe

    I completely agree with you Bill. If airlines want to start bringing in extra cash from stuff besides the ticket then they better start providing some stuff for us to buy. I mean i want a beer – i just don’t want a Bud. SW is based out of Texas – put Lone Star or Shiner on the list – why not! The comment above makes me want to fly Alaska Airlines.

  • Paula Berg

    Bill – Thanks for the tip. We’ve got a post on our blog about how we selected our wines (, but I’m not sure of the exact thinking behind our beer selection. I’ll see if I can find out…or have someone write a post about it…or better yet…see if we can get your favorite beer onboard!

    Paula Berg
    Southwest Airlines

  • Michael

    In reference to post 1. Yes, you can get all those beers in the bay area. Hell at the bar I worked at in Wisconsin, we had hazelnut brown on tap!

  • William Brand

    To Paula at Southwest…Thanks for the response Paula. What I didn’t quite say my post is you need a selection of different styles just like you do in wine. You need a stout or a porter (and please not Guinness), a pale ale like Sierra Nevada or an amber like Mendocino Red Tail Ale and a decent regular lager:Trumer Pils. Certainly, you should have Shiner Bock. You’re a Texas company; there’s some great beer in Texas.

    Rule of thumb: Four different varieties of wine, four styles of beer. Well, here’s hoping…

    Oh one more thing… don’t know if your light lagers are in cans. There are good beers in cans too: Dale’s Pale Ale, Gordon, 21st Amendment Live Free or Die IPA, Fat Tire…the mind reels…so little time, so much beer.

  • Paula Berg

    Okay, Bill – Here’s the scoop…

    With it being such a turbulent decade for the airline industry, we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our costs while still offering premium products to our Customers. With the help of two of our beer vendors, Miller Brewing Company and Heineken USA, we were able to secure highly discounted pricing to offer four of their most popular brands exclusively: Miller Lite, Foster’s, Heineken, and Amstel Light.

    Historically, Imports and light beers have been our most popular offerings onboard. And, because beer is not a substantial revenue generator, it is beneficial for us to reduce our costs on the beverage. Plus, we are the nation’s leading low-fare airline, so it’s important for us to keep costs low for our Customers as well ($3).

    Bottom line, the agreement results in significant annual savings, which we desperately need right now.

    Perhaps in the future we can consider offering a more diverse selection that will satisfy your very sophisticated pallet (wink)! In the meantime, I’d love to buy the next round. Email me your address, and I will drop some drink coupons in the mail for you!

    By the way, I thought you might enjoy knowing that when I was in college, I used to buy Sierra Nevada in bulk and sell it out of a cooler in concert venue parking lots in order to afford show tickets :)

  • William Brand

    Thanks for your candor Paula. I know the economy sucks. I understand the problem. I’m not a businessperson, myself. But I believe you coiuld stock four unusual beers, perhaps 3 crafts and one Belgian. Advertise it and sell em a double or triple your cost and actually make money. Especially on flights to and from the West Coast. No, you couldn’t make money with Sierra Nevada, but perhaps with a double ipa or a barrel aged beer and certainly with a Belgian.