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Draught vs. Bottle?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by mpedara429, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. In my past, I had always been under the impression that draught beer was better than bottled beer. In a few recent instances with bad draught beer, I'm starting to feel otherwise. My example is with one of my favorite "go to" beers; Oskar Blues: Dale's Pale Ale. Drinking this out of the can or poured into a glass is always magical. Recently, on vacation, I saw it on tap at a beer and I was ecstatic to try it on tap. I had never seen it at a bar before. After tasting it on tap, I would've much rather have drank it from the can. It lacked all the aroma and flavor I was used to. If it wasn't for the fact I saw them pour it into the glass for me, I wouldn't have believed it was the right beer.

    In another instance, I went to a local craft beer bar that has 40 different beers on tap. I tried a sampler of 5 different beers of my choosing and I was only able to stomach one or two of them. All were IPAs or stouts, my two favorite styles. None of them seemed to have the proper character for the style of beer. I came back here to BA and saw that they all had very good reviews. At that point, I started wondering about draught beer.

    Is draught beer only better for cheap beers to make them more drinkable? Are craft beers better out of the bottle or can?
  2. Zhiguli

    Zhiguli Savant (330) California Jul 12, 2012

    Too many variables to answer wisely. For me, generally, draught has been a more enjoyable experience, but also has to do with the fact that I'm sitting at a bar.
  3. aasher

    aasher Poobah (1,270) Indiana Jan 27, 2010 Beer Trader

    It just totally depends on the beer. I think Hopslam is boozy out of the bottle but can be great on draft. On the otherhand I think Gumballhead just doesn't have nearly as aromatic of a nose on draft compared to the bottle.
    gatornation likes this.
  4. Dirty tap lines, old kegs, wrong serving temp, frozen glasses, shaker pints, are all variables that can make beer worse out of the tap at bars.

    You can avoid all of those at home.
  5. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poobah (1,440) California Mar 18, 2010 Verified

    A bar will have natural variability in how they clean, serve, etc. their draft beers. Drinking bottles and/or cans straight from the brewery will most likely present the beer in the way it was intended (not counting beer directly from the brewery's tap room for example).
  6. A keg is just a glorified bottle with the added complication of external gas pressure plus lines and taps which need regular cleaning.
    If by draught we mean cask then the difference is profound.I am prepared to pay a lot more for it over the bottled variety as there are layers of complexity and depth of flavours simply missing in bottle or keg.The caveat is that it has to be done well.
  7. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poobah (1,035) New Jersey Jun 3, 2004 Beer Trader

    marquis- by and large, over here in the states keg beer is different from bottled. It not as great a difference as between cask and bottle, but the keg beer does (all things being equal) taste fresher and more vibrant. American bottled (or canned) 'craft' beer is not pasteurized (for the most part), but sterile filtered (.5 micron) for shelf life. Keg beer is usually just given a coarser filtration (around 5 microns) and must be kept refrigerated- so, at least over here, it is not a glorified bottle. The difference can easily be undone by poor turnover rates and cleanliness, as has been mentioned, but there is one.
    RobertColianni and 5thOhio like this.
  8. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Advocate (655) Colorado Dec 9, 2011 Beer Trader

    IMHO, the best way to determine the difference, if any, is a side-by-side blind test. But even this has variables, such as serving temperature and the way the beer was handled from the brewery to the consumer.
  9. Another aspect to consider is the age of the beer. There seems to be an ‘inclination’ that a kegged beer will be fresher. A BA who worked at a bottle shop which included draft beer posted in a past thread that often the kegged beer that they received was older than the bottled products. I was a bit shocked to read that since I always assumed that kegged beer would be fresher. I know approach draft beer with a ‘jaundiced eye’.

    Bitterbill likes this.
  10. azorie

    azorie Champion (760) Florida Mar 18, 2006 Verified

    also some brewers do brew the beer slightly differently for the versions. AKA SN pale ale. different beer from can/bottle to draft. Some beers are totally different due to 2nd fermentation. or the lack of it.

    I dislike Duvel on draft, love it on bottle. I could give many other examples. cask ale is a different animal all together. I notice nitrogen changes beer taste some to me personally YMMV. I had Brooklyn RIS on draft and to me it was a totally different beer than the bottle.

    bottom line find a beer you like at a place you like if you go out. or pay more for bottles. or just stay home, lol.:D

    I do enjoy blue moon on draft better than bottle. weird.
  11. GarbageMan

    GarbageMan Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2012

    Sometimes I don't like draught because a lot of bars keep all their beers in the same cooler, and thus everything is the same temperature. Granted, I appreciate that having separate coolers for different types of beer might be impractical unless your bar is wholly devoted to it, but a stout should not be served at the same cold temp as a pilsener.
  12. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Advocate (550) Oregon Aug 17, 2005 Beer Trader

    That's not really a fair comparison as they are two distinctly different beers. The kegged Duvel (aka Duvel Green) is only 6.8% vs 8.5% for the bottles, and it doesn't undergo secondary fermentation. There is no such thing as "regular" Duvel in kegs, at least not in America.
    drtth likes this.
  13. jivex5k

    jivex5k Advocate (660) Florida Apr 13, 2011

    Sometimes you just get a bad beer for whatever reason.
    I just had a bottle of 60 minute at a bar for lunch, man it was old or something. No hop aroma at all, just bitter.
    I've had Sam Adams summer ale out of draught and thought I hated that beer. I had a bottle of it later and loved it. When I go to normal restaurant I don't expect much from their beer.

    Unless the bar is all about good beer there's always a risk of a poor brew, that's why I'm glad craft bars/taprooms are growing in number. =)
  14. Sadly, there are numerous bars and restaurants that don't clean their lines as often as they should...
  15. I have the exact opposite experience when drinking Dale's Pale Ale on tap. It's one of my go to beers at home that I always enjoy from the can to glass. When I have it at the local Mellow Mushroom on tap it's even better, one of my favorite beers on tap when I'm having more than just a couple.
  16. sarcastro

    sarcastro Savant (475) Michigan Sep 20, 2006 Beer Trader

    It is one beer served in two different ways, how is it not fair? Obviously they are different or he would like them the same. If the draft version is that much worse, than it is the breweries fault for putting out a product in that form and they deserve negative feedback.
  17. One beer that is fantastic on draft is Sculpin, whereas in the bottles, it just does not seem to be quite as good...

    Maybe has to do with the freshness of a keg versus bottles that might be sitting around on the shelves for a while?
  18. Blackwing17

    Blackwing17 Aficionado (115) Ohio Jul 22, 2009

    I've had some bad experiences with old bottles at bars, so I try to stick to draught because I assume it is generally fresher unless the bar has a very large tap list.

    There are also beers that are better on draught for whatever reason. GL Lake Erie Monster comes to mind.
  19. iwantmorehops

    iwantmorehops Savant (440) Vermont Sep 25, 2010 Beer Trader

    What makes SNPA a different beer on draught, Bottle conditioning? References?
  20. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poobah (1,035) New Jersey Jun 3, 2004 Beer Trader

    It's always been that way (Michael Jackson made the distinction in his books way back when: bottle 5.5%, draught 5%), though I never knew exactly why until recently when Bill Manley (sierranevadabill) clarified it on the boards here. Essentially, there were some municipalities where they wanted to sell their beer that had a 5% restriction at the time, so they kept the draught at 5% to accomodate that. Eventually, they liked the difference so much that they kept it that way even though there is no more need for it.
    azorie and sierranevadabill like this.
  21. JimDH

    JimDH Aficionado (225) Kentucky Feb 7, 2011

    Though the ingredients are the same, it's not the same beer. The bottle fermentation of Duvel adds complexity and flavor, and is better in my opinion, but that's not achievable in an ordinary keg. The Duvel Single is more sessionable. Duvel markets them as separate beers, and they are. I wouldn't say the Single deserves _negative_ feedback, but it's perfectly reasonable to score it lower than Duvel. (As Duvel is close to a perfect beer, the Single certainly ought to be scored lower.)

    maltmaster420 likes this.
  22. tronto

    tronto Savant (270) Kentucky Dec 22, 2010 Beer Trader

    I picked up a growler of bourbon county last week and thought it was much better then the bottles. The b.a. I drank it with seemed to agree. Trust me, I love it out of the bottle too, but it was much better on draft.
  23. crytion

    crytion Savant (255) Ohio Jun 24, 2010

    Dirty lines can ruin great beers. I can see how if you had a new line that had poured 20 or so beers to get that weird plastic taste out of my otherwise awesome beer how it could taste better. but in my experience the lines are almost always at least slightly dirty and give the beer a weird generic beer taste. I can see how some beers can benefit from this but Every IPA that ive ever had on drought tastes like the malt of the 100 beers that were pored through the very same lines.And sadly the crispness of the hops was dulled away and lost. so sad.
    mpedara429 likes this.
  24. fox227

    fox227 Advocate (610) California Nov 19, 2010

    I tend to seek about beer that is draught only brewery releases, because like you I really don't believe that a keg of craft beer tastes better or much different than its bottle or can version, and I know that if it's draught only, I can't complain about paying six bucks for a pint (or less). Ordering a round of beer that I can drink at home seems pointless to me, unless I'm with friends or something.
  25. 19etz55

    19etz55 Savant (430) New Jersey Aug 12, 2007

    I've found that over the years that bottles are better. Almost every time I've tried a beer on tap that I have had in a bottle it doesn't normally taste as good. Some have been as good or close but never better.
  26. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poobah (1,415) Wyoming Sep 14, 2002 Verified

    Also, some bars use a Nitro mix which doesn't tickle my fancy.
  27. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Michigan Feb 16, 2013

    prefer bottles from the keg usually tastes better but with a bottle I'm not limited to drinking at the bar I can take my bottle where ever I want