Beer lovers have been arguing over whether beer tastes better on draft or in a bottle since what seems like the beginning of on-premise imbibing. It’s a common conception that beer on draft is better than liquid that’s been bottled or canned. But is that completely accurate?

When it comes to perceived tastes, it seems to be. That’s because when a beer takes its journey through a draft line, it’s pushed with carbon dioxide and/or nitrogen, and comes out of the tap with what can seem like the perfect amount of carbonation. This can also create a fluffy head and a crisp mouthfeel. It’s these characteristics that are likely the reasons most of us always think a beer tastes better on draft than any other way. But, this isn’t really true.

As we’ve discussed previously, poor maintenance of the product and process can wreak havoc on beer before it comes out of the tap. The best beer is actually what’s freshest, regardless of its package (keg, can, bottle, etc.).

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Cans that have been refrigerated are the best vessel for ensuring the beer inside tastes as close to the way the brewer intended as possible. This is because cans avoid several things that degrade beer’s flavor, such as dirty draft lines, a keg tapped a very long time ago, or one of the biggest culprits we’ve discussed before, “light strike,” also known as beer being “skunked.” Add to all of these factors that a can creates the ideal airtight seal, and as long as you pop the tab by the “best by” date printed on the bottom, the beer inside is going to be the freshest and best-tasting.