Why Draft Beer Tastes Better Than Bottled

Die-hard suds aficionados will swear to it, but is there a scientific reason draft beer at your local pub tastes better than the canned and bottled varieties you can find in liquor stores and supermarkets anywhere? Not really, as it turns out, but the draft (or draught, as traditionalists spell it) probably is better based on a number of other factors. According to Gear Patrol, the most notable of these factors is freshness. Draft beers typically sell faster in bars, meaning kegs are changed more often. Draft — and canned beers — are thus superior to bottled ones in freshness.

Hold on, why cans over bottles? Because of the airtight seal. As Gear Patrol notes, oxygen can leak into bottled beers, as can light ... both of which lead to a degradation of the product. Light exposure in storage is definitely an issue with bottled beers, since as Clean Beer observes, it affects the hops, often resulting in a more bitter beer than the brewer intended. So packaging and freshness definitely favor draft and canned beers over those sold in bottles.

The tasting experience

Where draft really excels, however, is in the tasting experience. Aroma is intensely correlated with taste. In fact, according to Science World, our sense of smell accounts for up to 80% of what we actually taste. So the fact that draft beer is poured and served in a glass, with plenty of room for us to stick our nose in, so to speak — that makes a big difference. Barons agrees, noting that "soaking up the smell" allows us an experience with draft beer that simply isn't possible with a bottled version.

Draft beer also boasts a better mouthfeel, which shouldn't be that surprising given that most draft systems have customizable temperature and pressure settings. This translates to a different level of carbonation and texture that drinkers can actually feel as they're sipping their pints (via Bon Appétit). "By having the keg hooked up to the draft system, there is constant pressure being applied to liquid," Benjamin Pratt, co-owner of Manhattan bar As Is, tells the outlet. "I usually think that a fresh beer, poured off a clean draft system, has a certain energy that a bottle or can-poured beer can lack."