While many of you may think this sounds like the most assinine question possible, there really are folks out there who do not like craft beer on tap. Yes, we realize this is an anomaly that deserves a space in the many research programs out there today, as we think craft beer on tap is great, but we thought we’d take some time to look at the options available to us. After all, variety is the spice of life, right?
There are a wealth of reasons that craft beer on tap at your local taproom just might taste different than if you purchased a six-pack of it to take home. One, the taps may be direct line style, meaning you’re getting craft beer that is literally the freshest it could possibly be, straight from the barrels it aged in. However, not all old or new craft breweries choose this tap style and many breweries’ taprooms feature guest brews from time to time, meaning they’ve had to ship it in.
With this in mind, we thought about how different brew styles may actually be better straight from the taps, rather than from the bottle. For example, a great IPA, especially those hop monsters that are becoming so popular, are often better from the taps, as they are fresher and the flavor difference can be very acute. A six-pack of bottles could have been sitting on the shelf for a week, giving it time to age within the bottle which, as we all know, changes the intended flavor of the brew. While this difference could be mild, it could also be quite dramatic depending on the amount of time the pack sat waiting for you to purchase it.
With the shelf time in mind, we have to consider the types of brews that are likely better off in the bottle. One reason some brew styles are better this way is their age ability. Brews like Russian Imperial Stout, Porter, and more are often better after a period of bottle aging, which is why many craft breweries actually suggest buying two bottles at the least. One is to enjoy right away, while the other is intended for you to squirrel away for later after the brew has had some time to mature. How long you age the brew is entirely your call.
The difference in flavor and texture of some brews after bottle aging is so dramatic that you’ll fall in love with bottle aging them for different lengths of time to see what period is perfect for you. We aged a lovely chocolate stout this way and found we each had a different “sweet spot” for bottle aging the brew. This simply shows that everyone has a slightly different taste preference and we love that! Diversity in the craft brewing community is outstanding.
Which do you prefer? Do you have different preferences for each brewing style? Drop us a note in the comments and let us know! We’d love to hear from you and your comment might be the inspiration for our next feature post! In the meantime, from all of us at West Palm Beach Brewery and Wine Vault (opening later this year in the Warehouse District in South Florida), happy tasting!