What is Draft Beer?

Draft beer, also known as draught beer, is a type of beer that is served straight from a keg or cask.

It is a popular choice in bars and restaurants around the world due to its unique taste and texture. Unlike bottled or canned beer, draft beer is matured in bulk in a larger container, which allows it to develop a richer, smoother, and more complex flavor.

The term “draft” refers to the process of dispensing beer from a keg or cask using a tap or pump. This method of serving beer has been around for centuries and was originally used to transport and store beer in large quantities.

Today, draft beer is enjoyed by beer enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike, who appreciate its fresh taste and unique character. From traditional ales to modern lagers, there is a wide variety of draft beers to choose from, each with its own distinct flavor and aroma.

Understanding Draft Beer

Draft beer is a type of beer that is served straight from a keg or cask. It is pressurized and goes through a carbonation method that is not used for bottled or canned beer. The term “draft beer” and “draught beer” are interchangeable, and both refer to beer served under pressure.

Draft beer includes keg beer, which comes specifically from a pressurized keg. All keg beer is draft beer, but not all draft beer is keg beer. Cask beer, on the other hand, is a type of draft beer that is stored in a barrel or cask and served through a hand pump. Real ale is a type of cask beer that is unpasteurized, unfiltered, and naturally carbonated. It is commonly found in British pubs.

Beer connoisseurs believe that draft beer has a better flavor and texture than bottled or canned beers, as it has been matured in bulk in a larger container.

The taste of draft beer is influenced by several factors, including the type of beer, the ingredients used, and the brewing process. In general, draft beer has a fresher, more pronounced flavor profile than bottled beer, with a more carbonated mouthfeel and a slightly higher alcohol content.

Craft beer is a type of beer that is brewed in small batches by independent breweries. Many craft breweries serve their beer on draft, as it allows them to showcase their unique flavors and aromas. Draft beer is also popular in bars and restaurants, as it is easier to serve and can be stored for longer periods of time without spoiling.

The History of Draft Beer

Draft beer has a long and fascinating history that dates back to medieval times.

In the early days, beer was brewed by monks who used traditional brewing methods to create a unique and flavorful beverage. These monks would store their beer in barrels and serve it directly to their guests, often in their own monasteries.

During the 18th century, Joseph Bramah patented the beer engine, which allowed beer to be served directly from the barrel and carried to the customer. This invention revolutionized the way beer was served, and it quickly became a popular way to enjoy this beloved beverage.

In the early 20th century, draft beer started to be served from pressurized containers. In 1936, artificial carbonation was introduced in the UK, which had a significant impact on the brewing industry. From then on, this method made its impact in Europe, where it quickly became the preferred method and spread to the rest of the world.

The earliest record of draft beer in America dates back to the 1600s when English settlers began brewing beer in the colonies. Since then, the popularity of draft beer has steadily grown, and it is now one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the country.

Today, draft beer is enjoyed by millions of people around the world, and it continues to be a staple in many bars and restaurants. Whether you prefer a light lager or a rich stout, there is a draft beer out there that is sure to satisfy your taste buds.

The Brewing Process

The brewing process for draft beer is similar to that of bottled beer, with a few key differences.

It all starts with the malt grains, which are soaked in water to activate enzymes that break down the starches into fermentable sugars. The resulting liquid, known as wort, is then boiled with hops to add flavor and bitterness.

After boiling, the wort is cooled and yeast is added to begin the fermentation process. Yeast is a crucial component in the brewing process, as it consumes the sugars in the wort and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. Different strains of yeast can be used to achieve different flavors and aromas in the finished beer.

Fermentation can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the desired flavor profile of the beer. During this time, the beer is kept at a controlled temperature to ensure optimal yeast activity.

Once fermentation is complete, the beer is transferred to a secondary fermentation vessel, where it is conditioned and carbonated. This is where the beer develops its unique flavor and aroma characteristics.

Finally, the beer is transferred to kegs or casks for storage and serving. Draft beer is typically served at a slightly higher temperature than bottled beer, which allows for more of the beer’s flavor and aroma to come through.

Types of Draft Beer

Draft beer comes in many different varieties, each with its unique taste, aroma, and appearance.

Here is a brief overview of some popular types of draft beer:


IPA, or India Pale Ale, is a type of beer that is known for its hoppy flavor. It is brewed with a higher concentration of hops, which gives it a bitter taste and a floral aroma. IPA is a popular choice among craft beer enthusiasts.

Miller Genuine Draft

Miller Genuine Draft is a type of lager that is brewed using a cold fermentation process. It has a smooth, crisp taste and a light golden color. Miller Genuine Draft is a popular choice among those who prefer a lighter beer.

Craft Beer

Craft beer is a term used to describe beer that is brewed in small batches by independent breweries. It is often made with high-quality ingredients and unique flavor combinations. Craft beer has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people seeking out new and interesting varieties.

Real Ale

Real ale is a type of beer that is brewed using traditional methods, including secondary fermentation in the cask. It is served at a slightly warmer temperature than other types of beer, which allows for the full flavor to be enjoyed. Real ale is often served from a hand pump, which gives it a unique texture and appearance.

Cask Beer

Cask beer, also known as cask-conditioned ale, is a type of real ale that is served directly from the cask. It is often unfiltered and unpasteurized, which gives it a unique flavor and texture. Cask beer is typically served at a slightly warmer temperature than other types of beer, which allows for the full flavor to be enjoyed.

Storage and Serving of Draft Beer

Draft beer is stored in kegs or barrels after brewing and served straight into glasses from the barrel using a tap or pump.

Proper storage and serving techniques are essential to maintain the quality and taste of draft beer.

Storage Temperature

The temperature at which draft beer is stored is crucial to its quality. The ideal storage temperature for draft beer is between 36°F and 38°F (2°C and 3°C). This temperature range helps to preserve the beer’s flavor and aroma, prevent over-foaming, and maintain its carbonation.

To achieve this temperature range, draft beer kegs should be stored in a cooler or refrigerator specifically designed for beer storage. These coolers and refrigerators are typically equipped with temperature control systems that allow for precise temperature regulation.

Serving Temperature

The temperature at which draft beer is served also plays a significant role in its taste and quality. The ideal serving temperature for draft beer is between 38°F and 42°F (3°C and 6°C). This temperature range ensures that the beer is refreshing and crisp without being too cold.

To achieve this temperature range, draft beer dispensing systems are typically equipped with a cooling mechanism that chills the beer as it is dispensed. The cooling mechanism can be a simple refrigeration unit or a more advanced glycol cooling system that uses a separate refrigeration unit to chill the beer lines.

Beer Storage Technique

The way in which draft beer is stored can also affect its quality. Kegs should be stored upright and away from direct sunlight to prevent the beer from becoming skunky or stale.

They should also be handled carefully to prevent agitation, which can cause excessive foaming and loss of carbonation.

To ensure that draft beer is always fresh and of the highest quality, it is essential to rotate the kegs regularly. This means that the oldest kegs should be used first, and the newest kegs should be stored at the back of the cooler or refrigerator.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Rocco

Rocco is a Florida State University alumnus with years of bartending and hospitality experience. From slinging hundreds of vodka sodas a night in jam-packed college bars to serving carefully crafted cocktails in upscale restaurants, there’s not much he hasn’t done behind a bar. Now, Rocco shares his knowledge and passion for all things alcohol-related here on My Bartender for bibulous readers everywhere to enjoy.

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