Drinking in airports is usually associated with repressing the fear of being trapped in a can and hurled through the air. Beer Air, however, is a totally different, and rather unique, experience.
One walks out of a standard airport corridor onto the observation deck, where an arch of greenery proudly announces that you have arrived at Beer Air. Stepping through the entry archway, one encounters a profoundly eccentric but enjoyable experience: wooden and metal tables fill the space, interspersed by the splashes of green provided by potted shrubs, creating the ambience of a modern Parisian café. But instead of looking onto the River Seine, the view is of the bustling airport runway.
Children, both bonafide and inner, will end up with their faces pressed up against the glass; so entranced will they be by these metal eagles soaring up and touching down. For adults, the result is a dangerous wanderlust; we were soon scheming to jump on the next available plane to Okinawa. The café is open for lunch and dinner, but we recommend going after dusk. The constant intermingling of the red, yellow and blue lights of the planes going about their business in the darkness makes for a captivating view.
The food of Beer Air is all contributed by ten of the airport’s restaurants, and the result is a huge number and variety of foods on offer. The relaxed buffet service means that guests can wander to and from the food tables, sampling the many different cuisines: in the afternoon session, there are 20-25 dishes on offer, and this increases to 30 for dinner time. We particularly liked the crostini topped with smoked chicken draped in tender onions, and the thinly sliced beef served with finely grated tangy horseradish.
What has given this festival its name, however, is the beer: a row of self-serve beer machines greet the entrant, and a waiter stands by, ready to advise and to hand the punter an ice cold glass, straight from the fridge. Then it’s up to you. Pick a machine and place your glass on the small platform, press the button and the machine will do the rest. But be warned: the drinks are unlimited, and the machines so entertaining, that you may find yourself intoxicated by more than just wanderlust.
Fukuoka Airport has already laid claim to the impressive title of being the third busiest airport in Japan (after the two Tokyo airports), despite having only one runway. So the hotly anticipated new runway being built (over the next ten years), plus the improvements being made to the existing infrastructure, promise to increase tourism even further. In this way, Fukuoka Airport will bring the delights of Fukuoka to the world, and in turn transform the city into a buzzing hub for Asian countries.
Beer Air is organised by the airport itself, and this festival is part of this driving mission. Beer Air wants to bring together the local community and international jetsetters, in the enjoyment of fine food and ice cold draughts at an innovative dining location – as close as you can get to the runway without being mown down by a Boeing 747.
Beer Air is a popular event, attracting tens of thousands of plane/beer enthusiasts each year, so reservations need to be made in advance. But supping your beer to the sweet – albeit loud – harmony of powerful jet engines in motion, the sound of impending adventure, is worth a little forethought.
How to Get There
The south elevator in Terminal 2 takes you up to the observation deck on the fourth floor.
Prices and Access:
• Closed in case of bad weather
• Adult ¥4,200 / High school / Junior high school student ¥2,100 /
Under Primary school age ¥1,000 / Under 3 years free *All incl. tax
• 230 seats
• 150 min. / All-you-can-drink & buffet
• Closed in case of bad weather
• Adult ¥2,980 / High school / Under Junior high school student ¥1,500
/ Under Primary school age ¥780 / Under 3 years free *All incl. tax
• 120 min. / All-you-can-drink & buffet
• 4F observation deck Fukuoka Airport Terminal 2
• 092-623-0555 (10:00~21:00)
• NOTE: reservations required before 13:00 on the day