Which beer is better: Bottled or on-tap?


Fact Box

  • The oldest historical record of brewing beer dates back to the Sumerian epic Gilgamesh, circa approximately 3,000 BCE. A thousand years later, the Sumerians had created eight different recipes for beer made from wheat and eight from barley. 
  • According to market research, in 2020, the best-selling bottled beer in the US was Budweiser, with a market share of over $7 billion. 
  • Surveymonkey reports that 85% of consumers consider taste above all else when buying beer at the store. 
  • A 2018 Gallup Poll revealed that of the US adults who drink alcohol, 42% consider beer their alcoholic beverage of choice.

Joan (On-Tap)

People who drink beer have the luxury of choosing between bottled and on-tap versions. However, on-tap beer--or draft beer, as it's sometimes known--is better for several reasons. 

While bottled beer is packaged in sealed, single-serve bottles, on-tap beer is usually stored in large metal containers from where it is dispensed to customers through a tap. This storage method already has advantages, as the sun's ultraviolet rays cannot penetrate metal, whereas glass bottles are more vulnerable to the sun's rays and, therefore, a change in the beer's composition.  

However, the larger storage container also has another benefit: it maintains the beer's flavor longer than beer that's in a bottle. Because draft beer is typically dispensed according to the quantity a customer wants, the remaining beer sits untouched in the closed container, ready for the next dispensing. A bottle of beer may linger open for hours while its drinker slowly sips away at it while its integrity gradually declines. 

And the flavor is not only maintained longer with beer that's on-tap, but it is also superior to that of its bottled counterpart. On-tap beer allows for the customization of temperature and pressure settings, leading to a better taste and texture that bottled beer cannot achieve. 

Finally, on-tap beer also lends a professional touch to parties hosted at home. And not only will party-goers' beer taste better, but there won't be the numerous bottles of beer lying around the house when the party is over for the host to clean up. 

Because of its superior taste and its ability to maintain that taste for longer, draft beer is the better choice. 

Stephanie (Bottled)

Sitting on a patio with an ice-cold beer in the summer is a common pastime for beer lovers. But, when going out, even though draft beer can be the default menu option for many--with its perceived benefits of extra foam and artificially added carbonation--bottled beer has more to offer. 

The freshness of beer depends on the beer's style and packaging. Hops level and the quality of the ingredients used can affect the beer's taste and carbonation. For this reason, some IPAs will taste fresher and truer to the brew master's vision in a bottle. Bottled beer, therefore, can be the superior choice for craft drinkers who enjoy the subtleties of hops and citrus. 

Aside from taste, a concern when drinking draft beer is that taps generally lack cleanliness. Most restaurants come up short on tap cleaning because the process requires taps to be shut down for days at a time, which of course, cuts into product availability and profits. If taps are not cleaned on a regular basis, black mold and bacteria can become a problem.  

Bottled beer is not only the better choice for cleanliness but also for portability. While draft beer needs to be consumed at a bar or restaurant, bottled beer can be transported anywhere by the consumer directly. This convenience enables beer drinkers to take their favorite beverage with them straight from the liquor store without paying a markup from a restaurant. 

And draft beer markup is considerable, as the beverage has more overhead costs than bottled beer, 'from equipment and maintenance to spillage and spoilage, it requires more upkeep which means it costs more.' 

For convenience, hygiene, taste, and price, bottled beer is heads above beer on tap.

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