If aliens were to visit earth, they would probably try their hands on the most popular drinks on our planet. First, they will need to start with water since that is – without a doubt – the most popular drink. Following water, comes tea and after that, they will be provided to drink the third most popular drink, i.e., beer. I don’t know regarding the previous two drinks but the lust for beer probably has the potential to make them stay here on earth forever. They may leave, only to return after a few days, if they are offered only bottled beers – beers which are stored in bottles. But I guess the Earthians would be honourable enough to serve them one of the greatest elixirs of our world, the draft beer- a beer that is stored in casks (called kegs) and is dispensed into a vessel through a tap. Also known as drought, it is far better than the bottled version.
Now you may think, “Eh, what? Beer is beer, whether you store it in a bottle or a barrel. Isn’t it?”. Well, no dear. Ask any beer lover and he or she will be ready to drive a few more miles in order to grab a draft beer instead of a bottled one.
But what is it that makes drought so much better?
The answer lies in the aroma. Your tongue surely plays a significant role in tasting beer. But so does your nose because the smell has a great influence on how you perceive its taste. Thus, draft beer, in this case, has a win-win situation because the aroma comes out of the draft beer without any misery. In the case of bottled beer, the aroma remains entrapped inside the bottle itself. One can actually relish the aroma of the bottled beer as well by pouring it into a glass. Nevertheless, it won’t be able to match the aromatic magic of drought.
One another factor that determines which beer will taste better is exposure to sunlight. Let us carry out an experiment to understand this. First, take a bottled beer. Second, taste it. Third, keep it in sunlight for quite some time. Fourth, taste it once again. You will find that the flavour of the beer has been destroyed. It is because sunlight affects the tiny pieces of hops, a kind of flower, present in the beer. Like it or not, this is a major problem with bottled beers. I agree that it’s easy to carry them from one place to another but not so easy when it comes to protecting the precious beverage from sunlight. Draft beer, on the other, is well protected from sunlight by an opaque cask. Hence, it doesn’t lose its flavour.
And how can I forget to mention the creamy foam on the top portion of a drought? It is the throne of victory. The carbon dioxide usually escapes when you open a bottled beer. But in the case of draft beer, it doesn’t escape and creates foam. The metal kegs are pressurised with carbon dioxide which forces the beer into the dispensing tap or faucet. Sometimes, a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide is used because nitrogen creates fine bubbles resulting in a dense head and a creamy mouthfeel. This system also keeps oxygen away, which otherwise can destroy the beer’s flavour. If you have explored the world of beer, you might have come across draft or drought beer cans. They are named like that because they too have dense, tight heads. They are able to produce foam with the help of a nitrogen-pressurised ball-shaped device called a beer widget. But still, they do not produce foams that are comparable to draft or drought beer.
Though the world claims draft beer to be better than bottled beer, it doesn’t prevent the fact that the former indeed has some downsides. The obvious case is portability. It’s far easier to transport beer kept in bottles. But there is another major factor where bottled beer is easier to tackle: management. The problem with draft beer is that it involves a lot of management. For instance, draft beer is dispensed through pipes or lines. These places can prove to be a good home for mould bacteria that feeds on alcohol and a bad omen for the drinkers since it will surely affect the taste and smell of the beer. There are many other factors that, if not taken care of, will drastically reduce the quality of drought. Not enough rest after transport to the pub? Your beer will end up being too foamy. Too warm or too cold temperatures? Sorry, but it will definitely affect the flavour. You will be shocked to know that even tiny factors like the rate of flow from the tap or the tilt of the glass can influence the longevity of the head in draft beers. Bottled beers remain sealed which helps them to preserve their quality very well. Draft beer doesn’t have this advantage.
Anyways, draft beer is overall better than bottled beer. It is even greener in the sense that its impact on the environment is 68% lower than bottled beer (according to Wikipedia). Moreover, cask ale is claimed to be “real ale” by the CAMRA (Campaign for real ale) organisation. Cask ale is nothing but unpasteurized beer which is allowed to undergo a secondary fermentation in metal, plastic or wooden cask by the unfiltered yeast. The beer is then dispensed from the cask through a tap. Secondary fermentation is also carried out sometimes in bottled beers.
Not drinking draft beer right away can lead to low-quality flavour. This doesn’t happen in the case of bottles but once opened, their quality also starts declining. So bottled or not, make sure to consume your beer immediately once you grab one. Happy drinking!