Is draft beer fresher?
Before we begin, what’s freshness? And what’s draft? Freshness is the proximity of a beer’s consumption to its production date. Draft, on the other hand, describes beer in keg dispensed by a gas through a tap, aka a draft system. Draft beers differs from bottled or canned beers by the vessel that holds the liquid.
Firstly, does freshness matter in your beer?
Some beers are designed to be drank fresh while some aged; for instance, hop centric beers opposed to bottle conditioned beers respectively. Hop centric beers like pale ales and ipa rely on hop aroma and hop bitterness for flavour, and they are just like fresh grounded coffee; aromatic when fresh but deteriorates with time due to oxidation. Contrarily, bottle conditioned beers are bottled with live yeast and culture that cause a re-fermentation in bottle. They have great age-ability as it is metabolically alive; yeast being oxygen scavengers halts the oxidation process.
Conditions like heat and exposure to UV speed up the process of oxidation (like all chemical reactions) which hop centric beers are most prone to. But bottle conditioned beers with live yeast and culture are susceptible too; yeast cell walls breaks down and form flavours similar to rubber tires. At Blue Supreme, we treat our beers like our dogs; only leaving them in cool and ventilated areas.
Secondly, about preserving freshness and integrity in beer during shipment and storage.
At Blue Supreme, we import an unique selection of lambics, wild sours and farmhouse ales to compliment freshly sourced hop centric Hong Kong craft beers such as pale ales and ipa. As both types of beers are susceptible to heat and light, we ensure transportation and storage both locally and internationally are fully temperature controlled (maintained at 18 celcius). Furthermore, when kegged, kegs are kept refrigerated at the desired serving temperature and quality as the brewers have intended.
Lastly, regarding the vessel.
Its simple to pour a can or bottle of beer, whereas draft beers are dispensed via a draft system, hence beer quality is subject to the maintenance of a draft system.
To begin, lines that transport the beer from kegs to to glass must be clean regularly (recommended every 3 weeks) to eliminate growth of off flavours from excessive yeast, bacteria or mould. At Blue Supreme we wash our lines during every keg change, if not every 2 weeks.
Furthermore, kegged beers are propelled by pressurising the keg with gas, most commonly carbon dioxide. It’s a delicate balancing act as excessive pressure of CO2 will result in over-carbonation in the beer or vice versa. At Blue Supreme, each beer tap has individual pressure regulators for beers to be dispensed at the optimal pressure and at the brewer’s intended carbonation level.
And to answer the question, no, draft beer is not necessarily fresher. It is a collective effort from brewers, distributors and retailers to maintain the integrity of craft beer being sold. Hence how the selection at Blue Supreme is designed; we work with local suppliers for hop centric beers to ensure the hop aroma is as fresh as possible, whereas bottled conditioned beers with ageability, we ship in a fully temperature controlled supply chains from Belgium to Hong Kong.