Draft Beer vs Craft Beer: What’s the Difference? (2023)

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 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 


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?


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. 

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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


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?


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


Is draft beer and tap beer the same?

Yes, draft beer and tap beer are the same. Tap beers are beers drawn from a large container like a cask or keg and poured directly into the glass, just like a draft beer. 

What does on draft mean at a bar?

On draft at a bar means it is a beer or alcoholic beverage coming out of a tap from a barrel and served in a glass.

Which gives you a worse hangover, craft beer or draft?

Craft beers will give you a worse hangover than a draft beer, especially if consumed in larger quantities. Beers have a high content of congeners that could worsen the hangover symptom.

Final Thoughts

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. 



Pat Strunk

Pat is our resident expert when it comes to bourbon and traveling. His impeccable writing skills and sales background are perfect for his copywriting specialization. He’s a brand storyteller who has worked for the biggest retail brands and business personalities. When he goes out to relax or celebrate some small wins, Pat never ceases to grab a bottle of Buffalo Trace. For him, this classic Kentucky bourbon whiskey is perfect for slow sipping. Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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