What Is Draft Beer?

Draft beer is a popular drink choice for many beer enthusiasts, particularly those who enjoy the taste and quality of fresh beer.

Many bars and breweries now advertise that they serve draft beers and there is a big consumer demand for craft draft beers, especially.

What Is Draft Beer

But what exactly are draft beers? How do they differ from other types of beer and what makes them so popular?

The popularity of draft beer can be attributed to several factors, including its freshness, quality, and the unique taste that it provides. 

In this article, we will explore the world of draft beer, including its history, how it is made, and some of the most popular types of draft beer available today.

Draft Beer

Although it is known as draft beer, you may also see it referred to as “draught beer” as this is the spelling used throughout other parts of the world.

Both terms mean the same and “draft beer” is the common spelling in the United States.

Draft beer is a beer that is stored in barrels or kegs and is then served straight from the keg through a tap.

The taps can be pumped by hand but it is also common for them to have a pressurized system that allows the beer to be poured from a keg at any angle or distance.

Other common ways for beer to be stored and served includes in bottles and cans. This is different from draft beer and the different storage formats result in the beer having different properties.

History Of Draft Beer

The word “draft” or “draught” comes from the Old English word dragan. This means “to carry” or “to pull” and refers to how beer was served directly from barrels during the 18th century.

It’s believed, however, that the idea of storing beer in barrels predates the origin of the word by a few centuries.

It’s thought that medieval monks were the first group of people to store alcohol in this manner but the earliest confirmed reference to the method can be dated back to an article in a London newspaper in 1691.

Eventually, people began to not only store beer in barrels but began to serve it directly from pressurized containers.

This change happened in the early 20th century and the custom of serving beer from pressurized barrels soon spread throughout the world.

In recent times, draft beer has become a term that exclusively means beer served from a pressurized container. It’s no longer commonly used just to describe beer stored in barrels.

What About Beer Bottles And Cans That Are Labeled “Draft”?

Some brands of beer sell bottled and canned beers and label them as “draft” beers. In these cases, however, the beer is not truly draft beer at all.

As we just learned, draft beer is a beer that is served directly from a keg. This means that bottled and canned beer can never be a true draft beer.

The word is usually used with bottled and canned beers (see also: How Tall Are Beer Bottles?)as an advertising trick to try to convince customers that the beer tastes better than other bottled and canned beers.

In some cases, the beer may actually taste better! However, it still isn’t true draft beer.

What Is Draft Beer (1)

Why Is Draft Beer Better Than Beer In Bottles Or Cans?

If you’ve ever had a beer pulled from a draft in a bar, you may have noticed that it typically tastes better than the same beer when it’s poured from a bottle or can.

You may have thought this was just your tastebuds playing tricks on you, but there is some science behind it. Many beer experts will tell you that draft is the only way to drink beer!

When beer is served from a keg, there are several factors at play. Storing beer in a cask or steel keg (see also: How Many Beers In A Keg?)keeps it away from sunlight and prevents oxygen from entering the container as it can do with glass bottles.

Kegs make it easier to maintain the ideal conditions for beer as well, making it easier to keep the beer fresh. This is one of the major factors behind why draft beer tastes better.

Draft beer is usually fresher than beer that is served from bottles or cans. 

Beer needs to be kept under the right temperature and pressure conditions and these are more difficult to maintain when it is stored in bottles or cans.

When it is unpasteurized, draft beer can remain fresh for around 45 to 60 days. In comparison, pasteurized draft beer will stay fresh for around 90 to 120 days. Bottles and cans cannot compare with this!

Pressure is very important for beer. Keeping your beer stored under the perfect pressure conditions will keep it carbonated and will prevent it from going flat.

Too much pressure can even make it too foamy so it is a difficult balance to find. Kegs make it much easier to get that balance right.

How To Keep Draft Beer Fresh

However, kegs are not infallible. Once a keg has been opened and beer has been poured, it should be consumed within one to three days.

Kegs need time to rest after being transported as well, so don’t open one as soon as you receive it as this will negatively affect the pressure and the taste of your draft beer. 

It’s also important to store the keg at the right temperature and ensure this is consistent. Moving kegs from hot conditions to cooler ones will not do your beer any favors and will make it age quicker than it should.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we took a closer look at draft beer. We discovered that draft beer is served directly from pressurized kegs and does not come from bottles or cans.

When taken care of correctly, draft beer will taste better than any bottled or canned beer!

Rees Vaughn
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