I love beer. There you have it. Compared to wine, it is my preferred choice. Especially after a hard day’s work on a very hot day. I have had people exclaim that the first sip is akin to the first kiss. It might not be too chic as compared to wine but as usual, things are changing, brought about by craft beer. And I always go for an outlet that has it on draft. But does it really make a difference? Or is it only in the mind?
Today’s craft beer scene is overwhelming. Even for those with a grasp on hop varieties and local breweries, combing through a tap list can induce decision paralysis. But if there’s one thing that should guide an order, it’s freshness. Draft beer has long been heralded as the best option, whether for mouthfeel, pressure control or a foamy head. Now that so many craft breweries are choosing cans over bottles and kegs, is draft still considered “better?”
The answer, it turns out, isn’t so clear cut.
Canned beer first debuted on the world stage in 1935, thanks to the Kruger Brewing Company of Newark, NJ. The cans were quick to chill and took up less room than bottles in the refrigerator. A definite win-win. They were also quickly adopted early by outdoorsy types for their obvious benefits. One major benefit is that cans do an exceptional job of preventing light from penetrating the beer and causing a “skunky” taste and smell. Cans are now used largely, though not exclusively, as a money saving tactic by craft breweries.
One potential down side to cans is the possibility of relying on a poorly maintained mobile cannery. This can spread bacteria and infection from one brewery to another. Mobile canneries that are well maintained however are a huge plus for breweries, and save them a lot of money on overhead.
Bottles certainly seem to have become an industry go to, and this may be for a good reason. Surprise! A beer that can benefit from aging. Aging in a can is not really recommended. Many people also prefer the aesthetics of a bottle over a can. The larger label and bottle space have led some breweries to come up with some very cool designs. This has in turn led to the formation of a large group of collectors within the beer drinking community. Some of the more creative craft breweries bank on this as a clever marketing tool to keep new people trying their beer.
Draft beer benefits from the lack of pasteurization in the kegs which doesn’t kill off the bacteria involved in the fermentation process the same as pasteurization would, thus the beer should be served as soon as possible. Draft beer is certainly not without its potential flaws though. There may be issues with draft beer if a bar fails to keep its tap lines clean. The lines should be cleaned regularly to avoid bacterial infection that can lead to off flavors and odd aromas.
But I am a sucker for that fresh taste so it will be draft for me. I just have to look for a really cool beer bar that keeps the lines clean. Of course, you want a place that is filled with nice friendly staff and people because there’s no point drinking alone is there…