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Tap or Bottle…The Battle for my Eternal Soul Rages On.

Well it happened again last night…twice.  I had dropped by my local watering hole at Brewforia, and they had their usual selection of good craft beer on tap, but they also had their usual great selection of bottles.  So…Decisions, decisions.  Well then the bartender made it a little easier by asking if I wanted to try anything on tap…well, yes…yes I would.  I decided to try the North Coast Old Rasputin that was on tap.

Now I’ve had the Old Rasputin before.  I actually reviewed it here.  In that review I wasn’t overly impressed with the beer.  It was kinda dull and lifeless.  I figured I would try it on tap and see if by some miracle I would begin to like it.  Well the miracle happened!  And let me be the first to say that my beer palate has matured over time since I last reviewed the Old Rasputin the first time, but I attribute this change in flavor almost exclusively to this beer being on tap…

It was big and malty and wonderfully balanced with just a hint of hops on the backside rounding out a very good beer experience.  So why is it that some beers taste so good off the tap and ‘meh’ from the bottle?  Now I’m not looking for a huge technical explanation, I know it has to do with the infusion of gases on tap and the release of gas through the head of the beer, etc that makes tap beers typically superior to bottle brews, but you would think that we could get better bottle technology that would compensate for this difference.

Later I was talking to one of the bartenders asking him about Widmer Brother’s Brrrbon, their Bourbon barrel aged Brrr, which is their winter brew.  Again he said that it was great on tap, but in the bottle it was kind of flat and lifeless.  That is two in one night!  Unfortunately they no longer had the Brrrbon on tap for me to try, and maybe that is a good thing because I have a bottle of it at home in the bunker.

I guess this is more of a lament than anything else.  It is difficult for me to get beer on tap.  I live about 30 miles from Brewforia so the idea of going there and having a few is tempting, but the drive home keeps me from making this a regular habit.  I’m trapped by bottles, and they seem inferior to the tap.

Which do you prefer?  Bottles or Tap?  Let us know in the poll below.

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22 Comments on “Tap or Bottle…The Battle for my Eternal Soul Rages On.”

  1. October 20, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    The Brrrbon was great on tap. Haven’t had it out of the bottle. Afraid to now. Rasputin on tap is better on tap. And on nitro, it’s brilliant. Had it on nitro for the first time a couple of weeks ago at the Front Door. Spectacular.

    • October 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

      Oops. ‘Rasputin is better on tap.’ Jeesh, you’d think I’d already had a few this morning!

      • Don
        October 20, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

        I wish I had the foresight(or the short drive home like you Chad) to have gotten there while the Brrrbon was on tap. But at least now I don’t have that pesky tap beer to color my perception of the bottle I will be opening soon! Sometimes its good to live under a rock.

    • redrolr
      October 21, 2010 at 11:37 am #

      I second that @BeerPoet! I loved Rasputin on nitro. Made my toes curl. I firmly believe beer is better off the tap due to the release of gases and a bit more aeration of the hops. Also, a vigorous pour from a bottle greatly improves the flavor, IMHO. I know we’re all Brewforia fans around here but if you ever make it to Meridian, Kahoots at Fairview & Main has a wall of taps.

      Cheers!

      • Don
        October 21, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

        Poured it very vigorously when I had the bottle. It made about a 4 inch head! But It overall was very lack luster out of the bottle. I just found the transformation it went through from the tap amazing.

  2. Rob Crozier
    October 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    You should invest in some growlers so you can take some of that tap beer home and enjoy it and not have to worry about the drive.

    • Don
      October 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

      Rob, that would require planning, and A LOT more drinking than I currently do. Jim can tell you that us Galligans aren’t the best planners in the world. To me Growlers are like reusable grocery bags. A really great idea…for someone else.

      • October 20, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

        Aren’t you a Planner by profession, Don?

        • Don
          October 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

          That is long range planning Jim. If I wanted a growler 20 years from now, I’m the guy. If I want one today…forget it.

      • Rob Crozier
        October 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

        I hear ya but don’t short sell it – it is an awesome way to get fresh beer and drink it in the comforts of home. I must admit that I usually get mine filled when I know I will be able to share with others as it is a LOT of beer to drink, so I would hesitate if I knew it was only me drinking it.

        • Don
          October 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

          That’s my issue Rob. I’m the only drinker in my house, and I typically am only good for one or two glasses. So for me a growler would be a waste. It would be nice if they made smaller growlers like a 24 or 36 ounce size. That would be perfect. I guess I could take a canning jar in. Might be tacky tho…

  3. October 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    Yo Bros!

    My theory: Pasteurization. Here’s a couple links for you:

    http://www.samueladams.com/discover-craft/beer-encyclopedia.aspx?id=337

    http://www.drinkfocus.com/articles/beer/beer-styles/draft-or-bottled-beer.php

    Could that be the big flavor difference? Though pasteurization kills the stuff that might make us sick, I suspect that it also kills a good bit of the flavor.

    Thoughts?

    Peace Yo!
    G-LO

    • Don
      October 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

      Perhaps you are correct about the pasteurization. Seems as logical an explanation as any. Still I wonder why some beers do far better in the bottle than others.

      • October 20, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

        Think shipping and storage could be an issue? Alot could go wrong in the trip from the brewery to the store shelf. This is where Whiskey has an advantage. Tough to destroy anything that has an ABV > 40%. 🙂

        • Don
          October 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

          I would guess this is less of an issue now than it used to be, and I’ll bet it almost never really impacts the overall flavor. I think you were on the right track before when you suggested pasteurization might be the difference.

  4. David
    October 20, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    Old Raspy in bottle is good.

    Old Raspy on Tap is excellent.

    Old Raspy on Nitro is heaven.

    • Don
      October 20, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

      Gotta find this on Nitro. Everyone says its the bomb diggity.

  5. October 20, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    I loved Old Rasputin in the bottle so I guess it would blow my mind on tap. I prefer tap any day of the week. Tap beer almost always seems to have lower carbonation volume and a more reasonable serving temperature. I think these two come into play to deliver a more enjoyable beer. I have started carbing my homebrew down to 1.8 to 2.0 volumes and it makes a huge difference in taste perception. Less carbonic bite and warmer serving temps bring out the malt.

    • Don
      October 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

      To me this out of the bottle was just lifeless, even tho it had a huge head on it at first pour, it quickly flattened out and just really was listless. On tap it was a different beer, not that it danced and sparkled, but was just enough to make it vibrant and bring the flavor up two or three notches.

  6. October 21, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    When you tried it out of the bottle, did you pour in a glass or drink straight from the bottle? Since I’ve found craft beer, my buddies have informed me that a bottle is just a transportation vessel and should be poured into a glass for drinking… Also the more “head” the better.. (TWSS) I’m a fan of Old Rasputin but I gotta be in the mood for it… Same w/ all imperial Stouts, burboun aged or not. BTW, mucho props on the site. I love this blog. Look forward to new posts everyday on my reader. I also have reposted some of your links on my blog from time to time. Cheers!

    • Don
      October 21, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

      Thanks for the compliments. Took a look at your blog, and it is …well…interesting. I loved the old guy from Up as the “The Rent Is Too Damn High” guy! That shit was funny! BTW I poured it into a glass, so that wasn’t it. I just think it looses a lot when bottled. On tap it was brilliant.

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