Anyone who has tried beer from a pump and beer from a bottle will probably agree that there is a difference in taste – even if it’s the same brand that’s being compared. But as well as tasting different, most beer drinkers will also agree that draft beer tastes better than the bottled variety. So why does draft have the edge over bottled? Here’s the answer.
Draft beer is not pasteurised
Beer that is intended for bottling has to undergo pasteurisation. This means that the finished brew is heated to kill off any bacteria that may grow between the time of bottling and the time of consumption. However, a side effect of pasteurisation is that taste is compromised and some of the beer’s aromatic ingredients are filtered out. Keg and cask beer, on the other hand, does not require pasteurisation and is kept consistently cool right up until the time that it is poured from the tap. What this means to drinkers is that more of the original flavour is retained.
Draft beer is less prone to oxidisation
During storage, beer’s biggest enemy is air, or more accurately, oxygen. Crucial beer ingredients such as hops, carbohydrates and alcohol are all highly prone to oxidisation, which in beer terms is when oxygen reacts with beer to degrade its taste. So to minimise oxidisation, beer containers need to contain as little air as possible, and as full barrels, relatively speaking, contain less air than full bottles, the end product will taste better when poured. Also, as oxidisation never ceases, the older the beer the worse it will taste. As keg beer tends to be consumed much closer to the time that it left the brewery than bottled beer, which can hang around in storage for months, it will taste fresher. However, there is an exception for certain stronger beers like Belgian beer or barleywine, which tend to improve with age.
When light reacts with the hops in beer, it causes the taste to bitter. That is why, in general, bottled beer comes in a brown glass and should be stored in darkened areas. The exceptions are certain beers which actually use this light reaction to encourage a bitter taste, such as Corona (clear bottle) and Heineken (green bottle). However, keg beer is always kept in the dark so this light-induced bitterness cannot take place.
Cleaner lines means tastier beer
The only time that beer drinkers are likely to prefer bottled beer is if they’ve tasted a draft that’s been pumped through dirty lines. As dirty lines can so affect the taste of draft beer, it’s vital that beer sellers properly maintain their line systems. A simple, cheap and effective way of doing this is to install a low-maintenance line cleaning system, such as the ones provided by CellarBright, which can keep lines hygienically clean to promote healthier, tastier beer.
So regardless of what camp you fall into – bottled beer enthusiast or draft beer lover – in the end it all comes down to personal taste. If you prefer your beer from a bottle – fine, and if you prefer it pumped out at the bar – that’s fine too. But if you are a bottled beer drinker, the next time you’re at the bar, why not give draft another chance and see if you can taste the difference – who knows, your taste buds may thank you for it.
CellarBright is a unique and new auto beer line cleaning system which will save thousands of pounds for businesses selling keg, cask beer and lager. It minimises waste by letting the beer that’s in the lines be drawn off and sold before cleaning commences, letting you to sell 100% of the beer that you’ve paid for. Get more on how much you can save using our beer profit beer profit calculator.