If you''re an infrequent drinker, you might assume that the flavor of beer does not depend significantly on the type of packaging used. However, the way beer is stored and transported has a major bearing on how beer tastes when it''s served.
Given the option, most regular beer drinkers would choose draft beer most of the time. The main reason that draft beer is popular is that it retains most of the flavor that it had when it was brewed. Also, its flavor is less affected by the packaging process than canned or bottled beer.
After filling the cask at the brewery, the yeast in the beer causes secondary fermentation (producing natural carbon dioxide), which maintains the beer''s flavor and keeps it fresh until it''s consumed. The only major downside with cask conditioned draft beer is that it has a limited shelf life and microbes can spoil the beer if it''s not consumed within four to six weeks.
Like cask-conditioned beer, most keg beer doesn''t require pasteurization or filtering before being kegged. This means that more of the original flavor is retained. The result is that, unlike canned or bottled beer, the taste of keg beer is not affected by the heat process involved in pasteurization or by the filtering out of aromatic ingredients.
Draft beer also scores over bottled and canned beer with its mouthfeel. When pouring beer from the tap, the rate of pour and the amount of carbon dioxide can seriously affect the taste sensation. Because of the way they''re stored and served, draft beers give much better mouthfeel when poured by a competent bartender.
Some brewers produce beer that they call bottled draftbeer. Unlike other bottled beers, they haven''t undergone pasteurization. However, to make sure the beer doesn''t spoil, bottled draft beer is subjected to cold, sterile filtration, removing much of its flavor. Most informed beer drinkers think that bottled draft beer is no better than other bottled beers.
Many bottled beers are very tasty. Even though they have undergone rapid heat treatment or pasteurization, most bottled beers manage to retain a pleasant flavor. Bottled beer has a shelf life of about three months so check the sell by date before consuming a bottle.
Another little-known fact is that beer keeps longer in brown bottles than in green or clear bottles. Sunlight or fluorescent light causes oxidation faster inside green or clear bottles than in brown bottles. So, if you buy beer in any color of glass other than brown, be sure to keep it in a dark place until youre ready to drink it.
Beer is filtered before it''s canned and then undergoes pasteurization once canned. Brewers have developed products that can withstand these processes and the end result is often enjoyable. However, canned beers can pick up and retain unpleasant flavors from the environment in which they were packaged. Fortunately, this problem is not common.
Although not affected by light, canned beers can be spoiled by exposure to extreme temperatures. Canned beer drinkers should be aware of their beer''s shelf life. The taste of both canned and bottled beers is normally improved by pouring them into a glass before drinking. If you do this, your nose is able to pick up the aroma of hops and other ingredients that give the beer its distinctive flavor.