We all know that beer is one of humankind’s greatest inventions no matter how it’s served. Whether you get your favorite brew in a bottle, a can, or you prefer a draught beer you have already made a great decision! But what are the differences between beer in a bottle, a can, or on tap? It turns out, there are actually quite a few.
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. When you’re drinking a beer that can benefit from aging, a Trappist Ale or a stout for example a bottle is the way to go. 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.
The belief is that beer on tap tends to be fresher and have more expedited shipping. While this may not be a universal rule, it does tend to hold true. Many experts also feel that this method favors lagers and hoppy beers like Pale Ales due to this freshness.
Why is it typically fresher? Most beer in kegs originating in The United States is non-pasteurized. This lack of pasteurization 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.
Draught beer is certainly not without its potential flaws though. There may be issues with draught 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.