Also known as tap, Draught beer comes from kegs and is typically served in bars. The kegs are stored underneath the bar and connected to piping, which carbonates and delivers beer to your glass. Draughts have great protection against light as they are stored by metal casing, which gives no worry for spoiled beer. A draught’s flavor concentration can often have better results than a bottle or a can due to the fact that you must drink draught beer from a glass. This allows the beer to breath and releases some of its aroma. However, cleanliness and carbonation can become an issue, as they’re both at the mercy of the bar. The piping used to deliver draught beer to your glass must be cleaned regularly. If a rather lax bar doesn’t clean the lines properly, bacteria and mold can develop within the piping and drastically affect the taste of your beer. Carbonation is very similar, though brewers can recommend a level of carbonation for their beer, a bar might not follow the suggestion. Even the slightest change in carbonation can make a good beer go bad. Last, the portability of a keg isn’t the easiest. A full keg can weigh up to 160 pounds. Forget taking that to a picnic with you!
Typically the second option when drinking beer, just like draught, bottles have their advantages and disadvantages, the first advantage being portability. They’re obviously much easier to carry around with you then a keg. Even if you’re drinking at a bar, the glass you’ll have your draught beer in can easily spill over the sides while a beer bottle keeps every last drop of your brew inside the glass. Secondly, breweries are very conscious of their cleanliness and keep all bottles sanitized before processing which keeps the beer fresh with its original flavor. Speaking of flavor, the concentration of flavor can vary, but for the most part, a bottle is very good at keeping the aromas and flavors snug tight in the bottle. One great thing about bottled beer is that, if you want your brew to breath, you can always pour it into a glass. The carbonation of a bottled beer is controlled by the brewery, which helps keep the intended taste of the beer in check. Unfortunately, the bottle’s biggest downfall is its vulnerability to light. “Light struck” is a term used when a beer is exposed to UV rays. Bottles are very vulnerable to this, as they provide almost no protection from the sun. The best advice for a bottle drinker is to keep you beer in the shade.
Aluminum cans are kind of the wild card in beer. Some breweries use them, others don’t. It’s often thought as a cheaper option, and not for the good. However, in reality, cans offer just as good of beer than a bottle or draught with some more positive results. Similar to bottles, cans are very portable (more portable than a bottle actually), easy to open, and the brewer determines carbonation and cleanliness. However, unlike bottles, they can protect the beer from UV rays and prevent the beer from being “light struck”. Many people complain about the metallic taste that cans give off, however, that statement isn’t actually true. Since 1935, most beer manufactures add a thin plastic lining to their aluminum cans to deter that taste. Their one drawback is canned beer tends to lose its cold the quickest. Which means you’ll just have to drink your beer faster.
So when one asks if it really matters if beer is stored in a can, bottle, or keg, now you can answer with confidence. However, to argue which tastes best is completely a preference. While one drinker may think beer from bottles taste best, another may say draught. Though you may think the difference in storing beer is an aesthetic and flavor-affecting choice, it’s mostly based on cost and efficiency. It’s cheaper to ship a large amount of beer in a keg compared to the amount of glass bottles it may take or even cans. So when seeing a fancy beer handle at a bar which the bartender is pulling cold delicious beer from, that may not have anything to do with quality, just convenience. While bottles may keep beer colder, cans don’t break as easy and are stackable, good for selling. All of these factors mean one thing: you should drink beer the way you enjoy it most, because though everyone wants good flavor, the best beer is one that comes with a good experience.
Another packaging form of freshly brewed draught beer is the Beer Growler. Unfortunately, you will not see these in Bangalore brewpubs anytime soon as any beer brewed in-house must stay within the four walls of the establishment and cannot be transported off premises.
The growler is typically a 2 liter glass container (brown or green) that allows you to carry fresh draught back to your house. A growler will stay fresh for 2-3 weeks but the sooner you consume it the better. The secret to the freshness lies in the filling process. During my stay in Toronto, I was able to see growlers filled on site at one of my favorite breweries – Steam Whistle Brewing. Their filling system injects plenty of Carbon Dioxide into the beer eliminating oxygen and excessive foam (both of these reduce shelf life).
This video presentation goes into more detail about the growler filling process at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto:
Read my personal review of their brewery and their brewery tour here
Fizzics – Perfect Pour – May 2015
So we’ve discussed how important the head is – for various reasons – carbonation and to release the full flavor of the beer, to give it a perfect pour and the optimum mouthfeel.
Draught beer seemed to win this argument, however, all is not lost when it comes to bottled canned beer or evne the growler. A new startup called Fizzics, from New Hampshire, USA is doing their crowd funding now and aims to release their $200 machine in October – ti uses sound waves to increase carbonation to give you a draught like pour – pretty cool if you ask me. No Co2 cartridges are needed and if you support their crowd funding initiative, you can get a nice hefty discount. Frothy is the way to go!
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