Craft beers today are so far and wide that it can overwhelm even the most seasoned beer aficionado. You can easily become indecisive when looking at all the varieties that a local brewery offers.
If there is one factor that should guide you it should be freshness. For the longest time, drafts reigned superior over bottles in the category of freshness, and canned beer wasn’t even in the running. After all, drafts seemingly give you everything, right? A good pour from the tap gives you a foamy head and mouthfeel, plus you have pressure control.
Why is it then that so many craft breweries are switching to cans over both kegs and bottles?
The debate is still going strong over whether bottled, draft or canned beer is the best. It’s a debate because the answer isn’t as clear-cut as many beer lovers would like it to be. Check out this old study from Huffington Post.
It really depends on the drinker’s personal preference. The type of beer can also have an effect as well. Those who enjoy a dark beer may prefer a glass or a can. Those who enjoy stouts, porters, or malts may enjoy a bottle more.
The following guide will show you the difference between the three, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and how each affects the taste of beer.
What Tastes Different Between the Three?
The taste of a beer is affected by what you drink it out of. That’s something that people have accepted as fact for a long time. The taste between the three depends on numerous factors.
Bottled beer is falling more and more out of favor these days even though it has its advantages. You’ll usually get around 12 ounces in a bottle.
The taste is preserved by the glass, which is usually colored to protect the contents from the sun. You usually find the glass colored amber, dark green, brown, and blue. Exposure to sunlight can cause a beer to become skunked, so the tinted glass is a good way to prevent this.
The cap on bottles also prevents oxygen from corrupting the taste. While these protective measures are put in place, they don’t always work.
How Long Does It Last?
When stored at room temperature in places like your pantry, bottles will typically last between 4 to 6 months. If you keep the bottles refrigerated, then they’ll last slightly longer, typically between 6 and 8 months.
- Preventative measures are put in place to preserve the beer.
- Glass is recyclable.
- 12 ounces is only a little over a cup.
- The preventative measures do not always work.
Beer from a keg is still the preferred method of consuming beer. The reasons for draft being popular are not unfounded. Draft beer is usually served in a pint, i.e. glasses that are 16 ounces. When you’re drinking a draft beer, you’re doing it while dining out (unless you have a keg at home), which means that drafts are likely to be fresher than bottles or cans.
Many restaurants rotate out their beers for new brands every once in a while, so the kegs are fresh; bottles, on the other hand, can sit in a restaurant’s refrigerator for a long time.
You can also ask to taste what’s on tap before committing to it, so you can decide if you actually like it or not before paying. Many places often offer happy hours on their drafts, which contributes to restaurants continually getting fresh kegs.
However, drafts fall short in a few ways. You can’t determine the cleanliness of a tap line, and some restaurants only have a maintenance guy out to clean their tap line every once and awhile. Waiting for someone to change a keg can also be time-consuming. In addition, the fridge where many kegs are stored isn’t at the proper temperature, which affects the overall taste.
How Long Does It Last?
A keg can last about the same time as a bottle. If it’s in a pantry then about 4 to 6 months. In a refrigerator, about 6 to 8 months.
- You can taste before you buy.
- Fresher due to kegs being changed out often.
- More offered in a glass.
- Not something you can have at home.
- No control over temperature.
Those who advocate for canned beer argue that it’s easier to transport and lighter than bottles. It’s also easier to open. There’s no awkward moment where you’re trying to determine if it’s a twist-off top or if you need a bottle opener. Many breweries see the advantages of cans as well. They’re airtight and effectively keep out all types of light, meaning that the beer will never be tainted by natural factors.
Those who protest that canned beer has a metallic taste are misinformed as manufacturers have been lining aluminum cans with plastic to prevent that taste. Cans aren’t as good for the environment though. Even though they are recyclable, they take a lot of energy to produce. The only way that the taste of canned beer would be tainted is if they were stored somewhere with extreme temperatures.
How Long Does It Last?
Like the other two containers, cans can be kept for typically 4 to 6 months if you’re keeping it at room temperature. If you store your cans in your refrigerator, then you can typically make them last anywhere between 6 to 8 months.
- They’re airtight and prevent light from skunking your beer.
- They’re easier to handle than bottles or a keg.
- They’re easy to open.
- They’re not as good for the environment.
The Bottom Line
If you’re someone that enjoys drinking while dining out, go with a draft. If you prefer drinking while at home, skip the fuss of buying a keg or handling bottles and go with canned beer. Whatever your preference I still recommend pouring bottled and canned beers into a glass before drinking to help with the carbonation.