Liquor Laboratory

ll logo white
ll logo white

Draft Beer vs Craft Beer: What’s the Difference? (2024 Best Edition)

draft beer vs craft beer

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Lydia Martin

There’s nothing like a fizzy, cold beer on a hot day- light, bright and refreshing. If you are new to the beer world, “craft” and “draft” beer can be confusing. Is it the same thing, or are they different?

Let’s take a closer look at these two beer categories in our review of draft beer vs craft beer. 

Craft Beer & Draft Beer Main Differences 

Draft Beer

Beer enthusiasts will agree that draft and craft beer are two different things. Craft beers are produced with the most premium quality ingredients in small batches by a small or independent brewery. 

Draft beers are made like regular canned or bottled beer; however, draft beers are stored in a cask or pressurized kegs.

Unlike bottled or canned beer, people use kegs to serve authentic draft beer because it prevents oxygen and keeps the beer fresh, even for a long period. 

Another main difference between craft beer and draft beer is the appearance and taste profile. Craft beers are darker and have stronger flavors and higher alcohol content than draft and mass-produced beer. 

Let’s Take A Closer Look 

Let's Take A Closer Look 

Definition 

Draft or draught beer is stored in a barrel or a pressurized keg used to serve the beer. It is made the same way as bottled beer, but it is served through a sprout of a beer faucet. 

Draft originated from the old English verb dragan, which means draw, pull or drag. Draft and draught are the same, but the draft is used in Canada and US, and draught is used in countries like Australia, the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. 

Craft beer is a kind of beer made by a small brewery and is commonly referred to as a customized or artisanal beer. It is produced on a small scale with fewer batches than large breweries and has distinct and rich flavors that can easily stand out. 

Read: How Much Does A Case of Beer Weigh?

History

Craft Beer inside a Barrel

In a 1691 London Gazette article, an early device could be a good engine for starting beer, drawing 20 to 30 barrels an hour.

In the early 20th century, people served draft beer (draught beer) from pressurized containers as artificial carbonation was introduced in the UK in 1936. 

By the early 1970s, draught beer became exclusive to beers served under pressure instead of the traditional beer cask. 

On the other hand, beer sales during the mid-1990s declined because the taste of regular beers no longer appealed to beer lovers. Big alcohol brands focused on maximizing profits rather than making beers with great taste. 

Small breweries gained momentum in the 1990s by experimenting with brewing processes and ingredients in smaller batches. 

Related Posts:

Brewing Process

Craft beer brewers appeal to beer enthusiasts as it does not  have any preservatives and chemicals added. It is often unfiltered and unpasteurized to retain the beer’s goodness, innovative, and refined flavors. 

Draft beers taste better than bottled beers but not better than customized brews. It is usually filtered but unpasteurized.

It has the same production process as bottled beer; however, it is stored and served in casks or pressurized kegs where the faucet is pulled and beer flows.

Read: What’s The Most Popular Alcohol Ever?

Taste Profile

Draft Beer in a glass

In craft beer vs draft beer taste profile, craft beer takes the upper hand. While draft beer is cold, fresh, and smooth, nothing beats flavorful craft beers.

Craft beers have stronger flavors than draft beers, and beer drinkers usually prefer them over fresh beer. 

Artisanal beers from craft brewers contain 5 to 10% ABV, which is higher because mass-produced beers like draft beer only contain 3 to 4%.

Read: Cheapest Beer You Can Drink

Appearance

The color of the beer reflects the grain used, so you will notice that regular beer and draft beer is lighter than craft beers.

Regular beer is typically pale and watery yellow, while craft beer has a variety of colors based on the brew and grains used. 

Moreso, keg beer or draft beer stored in a pressurized keg is lighter than craft beers because oxidation and pressurized dispensing greatly affect the taste and appearance of different beer types. But how much is a keg of beer?

Storage

Beer Keg

Draft beer gets the upper hand when it comes to storage because stainless steel kegs and cask storage help draft beer remain fresh and rich in taste.

You can store draft beer typically in kegs and casks. Consumers get fresh beer every time as it can be directly served out of the kegs. 

Brewers can also store craft beers in cask; however, it differs from draft beer served directly out of the storage. 

Can craft beer be drafted? Yes, any craft beer can be tap-drawn, which means it can now be considered a draft beer.  

Read: Dark Beer & Light Beer Comparison

Size & Production

Another big difference between craft and draft beer is the size and production. In the beer industry, draft beer can be mass produced by a non-craft brewery as long as it is exclusively tap drawn from a cask or keg. 

On the other hand, craft beers are made by small and independent breweries based on the Brewers Association.

Craft brewers usually produce less than 6 million barrels annually and usually specialize in the art of brewing. 

But how many beers will it take to get you drunk?

Can Craft & Draft Beers Be Sold Canned?

Craft Beer in Cans

In craft beer vs draft beer, draft beer cannot be sold in cans, while brewers can sell craft beer in cans. You can define craft beer as custom-made beer, and there are no limitations on how you can serve it.

There is a rise in the popularity of canned craft beer among millennial beer drinkers, and craft brewers tend to embrace this innovation [2]. 

On the other hand, draft beer cannot be sold in cans or bottles. The frothy drink should be directly served from casks or kegs to glass by tap. Check out the different types of IPA beers here

Which is Stronger, Draft Beer or Craft?

Another craft beer vs draft beer difference is the beer strength. Craft beer is stronger than draft beer because it contains a high alcohol concentration. A craft brewer does not pasteurize and filter the beer, producing a stronger flavor. 

In the world of beer brewing, draft beer is not that different from bottled beer because it is almost similar in taste.

However, it is fresher, lighter, and does not have a skunky-off taste like other bottled beers. 

Read: IPA & Pilsner Comparison

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is considered draft beer?

Draft beer, also known as draught beer, refers to beer served from a keg or cask rather than from a bottle or can. It is commonly found in bars, restaurants, and pubs, where it is stored in kegs and dispensed directly from a tap or faucet into a glass. Draft beer offers several advantages over bottled or canned beer, including freshness, carbonation level, and temperature control.

It is often preferred by enthusiasts for its ability to showcase a wider range of beer styles and flavors, as well as for its characteristic foam or “head” that forms when poured.

What’s the difference between beer and draft beer?

While both beer and draft beer share the same fundamental ingredients—grains, hops, yeast, and water—their difference lies primarily in how they are dispensed and served. “Beer” is a broad term encompassing all types of fermented alcoholic beverages made from these ingredients. It includes mass-produced commercial beers from large breweries as well as specialty and artisanal beers from smaller, independent breweries.

Draft beer, on the other hand, specifically refers to beer served from a keg or cask, typically dispensed directly from a tap or faucet into a glass. This method of serving allows for greater freshness and control over factors such as carbonation level and temperature.

Draft beer is often considered more flavorful and aromatic compared to packaged beer, as it does not undergo the pasteurization and packaging processes that can affect the beer’s taste and aroma. Additionally, draft beer offers the opportunity for a wider selection of beer styles and flavors to be available to consumers in bars, restaurants, and pubs.

What is the difference between craft beer and beer?

Craft beer is a subset of beer that is produced by small, independent breweries known as craft breweries. These breweries prioritize traditional brewing methods, quality ingredients, and innovative recipes. The Brewers Association defines craft breweries as those that produce fewer than six million barrels of beer annually and are independently owned (i.e., not controlled by a large beverage corporation).

Craft beer stands apart from mass-produced commercial beers in several ways. Craft breweries often emphasize creativity, experimentation, and a commitment to community and sustainability.

They produce a diverse range of beer styles and flavors, ranging from traditional lagers and ales to more adventurous and experimental brews. Craft beer is known for its focus on quality, flavor, and brewing innovation, as well as its role in supporting local economies and fostering a sense of community among beer enthusiasts.

What makes a beer a craft beer?

Craft beer is distinguished by its production by small, independent breweries, which prioritize traditional brewing methods, quality ingredients, and innovative recipes. The Brewers Association, a trade organization representing small and independent American craft brewers, defines craft breweries as those producing fewer than six million barrels of beer annually and being independently owned, meaning they are not controlled by a large beverage corporation. These breweries often emphasize creativity, experimentation, and a commitment to community and sustainability.

Craft beer stands apart from mass-produced commercial beers in several key ways. Craft brewers tend to focus on quality over quantity, employing hands-on brewing techniques and utilizing high-quality ingredients to create distinctive and flavorful beers. They often brew in smaller batches, allowing for greater attention to detail and the ability to experiment with new styles and flavors.

Craft breweries also play a significant role in supporting local economies and fostering a sense of community among beer enthusiasts through events, collaborations, and partnerships with local businesses.

Why is beer called draft?

The term “draft” in the context of beer refers to beer that is served from a keg or cask rather than from a bottle or can. The word “draft” is derived from the Old English word “dræf,” which means “to draw” or “to pull.” In the context of beer, “draft” refers to the action of drawing or pulling the beer from the keg or cask and dispensing it directly from a tap or faucet into a glass.

Draft beer offers several advantages over bottled or canned beer. It is often fresher, as it does not undergo the pasteurization and packaging processes that can affect the beer’s taste and aroma. Draft beer also allows for greater control over factors such as carbonation level and temperature, resulting in a more consistent and enjoyable drinking experience.

Additionally, serving beer on draft allows for the presentation of a wider range of beer styles and flavors, as well as the characteristic foam or “head” that forms when poured.

Is Heineken a draft beer?

Heineken, a globally recognized beer brand, is available in both bottled and canned formats, but it is also commonly served on draft in bars, restaurants, and pubs worldwide. When served on draft, Heineken is typically stored in kegs and dispensed directly from a tap or faucet into a glass.

Draft Heineken offers a slightly different drinking experience compared to its bottled or canned counterparts. It often has a fresher taste and smoother texture, as it is not subject to the effects of pasteurization or extended shelf life.

Draft beer also allows for greater control over factors such as temperature and carbonation level, resulting in a more consistent and enjoyable drinking experience. Overall, whether enjoyed from a bottle, can, or draft, Heineken remains a popular choice among beer enthusiasts for its crisp and refreshing taste.

What is the difference between craft and draft?

Craft beer and draft beer represent different aspects of the brewing and serving process.

Craft Beer: Craft beer is a category of beer produced by small, independent breweries that prioritize traditional brewing methods, quality ingredients, and innovative recipes. Craft breweries focus on creativity, experimentation, and a commitment to community and sustainability.

These breweries often produce a diverse range of beer styles and flavors, ranging from traditional lagers and ales to more adventurous and experimental brews. The term “craft” refers to the brewing philosophy and ownership structure of the brewery, emphasizing artisanal techniques and hands-on craftsmanship.

Draft Beer: Draft beer, also known as draught beer, refers to beer that is served from a keg or cask rather than from a bottle or can. The term “draft” relates to the method of dispensing and serving the beer, where it is drawn or pulled from the keg or cask and dispensed directly from a tap or faucet into a glass.

Draft beer offers several advantages over bottled or canned beer, including freshness, carbonation level, and temperature control. It is often preferred by enthusiasts for its ability to showcase a wider range of beer styles and flavors, as well as for its characteristic foam or “head” that forms when poured.

What is a craft beer example?

An example of a craft beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. This beer exemplifies the craft beer movement with its focus on quality ingredients, traditional brewing methods, and innovative recipes.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is known for its balanced flavors of hops and malt, along with its crisp and refreshing taste. It has become a classic example of an American craft beer and has played a significant role in shaping the craft beer landscape since its introduction in 1980.

Why draft beer is better?

Draft beer offers several advantages over bottled or canned beer:

Freshness: Draft beer is often fresher than packaged beer, as it does not undergo the pasteurization and packaging processes that can affect the beer’s taste and aroma. It is typically stored in kegs under controlled conditions, ensuring that it remains fresh until it is served.

Control over Carbonation and Temperature: Draft beer allows for greater control over factors such as carbonation level and temperature. Brewers can adjust these parameters to suit the specific beer style, resulting in a more consistent and enjoyable drinking experience.

Wider Range of Styles and Flavors: Serving beer on draft allows for the presentation of a wider range of beer styles and flavors. Bars and restaurants can offer a rotating selection of draft beers, showcasing seasonal releases, limited editions, and specialty brews that may not be available in bottles or cans.

Environmental Impact: Draft beer typically produces less packaging waste compared to bottled or canned beer. Kegs can be reused multiple times, reducing the environmental footprint of the brewing and serving process.

Overall, draft beer offers a fresher, more flavorful, and more environmentally friendly drinking experience, making it a preferred choice for many beer enthusiasts

Final Verdict: Draft Beer vs Craft Beer

In summary, craft beer differs from draft beer in terms of taste profile, size, production, appearance, and history. Draft beer has quite a long history, but it is just beer well stored and directly served from barrel tap to glass. 

On the other hand, sophisticated drinkers find craft beer high quality because of its focused and small production. Craft beers should be made by craft breweries, not by large beer makers. 

Brewers can serve craft beer like a draft beer, but still, they are two different beers.

Draft beer is merely about the storage and serving, while craft beer is about who made it and how it tastes. 

References:

  1. Beer alcoholic beverage
  2. Our picks for the top canned craft brews across the USA
Lumint ad Side Bar
Flex Ad Side Bar