Food & Drink » Happiest Hour

Happiest Hour

Do pigs fly?



That's what I wondered two weeks ago before I took off for a bachelor party in Lake Tahoe. I hoped to bring my favorite Kettlehouse beer with me inside one of the brewery's "Party Pigs," a 2.25-gallon, self-pressurized dispenser.

Kettlehouse bartender Al Pils warned me it might not fly. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn't allow pressurized kegs. But is a pig technically a keg?

I called the Missoula airport and described the pig to a security agent. He asked if it contained a CO2 cartridge. I didn't think so. If not, he said, the pig should be fit for flight.

If pigs don't contain CO2 cartridges, how do they stay pressurized? The pig's belly, I learned, contains a pressure pouch that inflates to 15-20 pounds per square inch. As beer dispenses, chemicals produce CO2 gas and the pouch expands.

A friend and I brought the pig to the airport. A security agent determined it was okay to check. My friend then put it in his suitcase and sent it through security. All the while I envisioned a mid-flight pig explosion. Would it actually make it to Tahoe?

My flight was scheduled for later in the day, so I was kept abreast of the pig's progress thanks to my friend's text messages.

"Just saw piggy get loaded."

"One more leg to go. Question of the day: Will the pig survive?!"

"A little distressing to watch them manhandle my roller. Hang in there little pig!"

"The pig is in the blanket. I repeat: The pig is in the blanket!"

I arrived in Tahoe that night with the pig waiting for me, unfazed by its journey. And so began my journey of trying to drink it in two days.

So, pigs do fly. May you enjoy your favorite K-Hole beer in far-flung places.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail

Add a comment