Craft Vs Draft Beer: What’s the Difference?

If you are new to the world of beer, you might come across the terms ‘craft’ and ‘draft’ to describe this crispy, frothy drink. But, are they the same thing? What’s the difference between craft vs draft beer? Read on, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about these two classifications.

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What Is Craft Beer?

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While beer making has quite a long history, the word ‘craft beer’ is quite new in the world of beer making and consumption. It is not clear who came up with the term but the Brewers Association describes craft beer as beer that has been made by a brewer who has a notice from the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), is small and independent.

A brewer is considered small if they produce less than 6 million barrels of beer a year. The criterion for independence is that the craft brewer must own 75 percent of the company while a member of the alcohol industry who produces non-craft beer owns the remaining 25 percent.

It would be accurate to define craft beer as artisanal, custom-made beer whose production is driven by innovation and the brewer’s own personal taste and inclination. Being a small brewery allows the brewer to experiment with different kinds of processes, mixtures, and flavors without the risk of possibly wasting a large number of ingredients.

Importantly, craft brewers have the space to guide their brewing processes with their own unique combinations to appeal to the diverse needs of beer enthusiasts. Craft brewers also tend to be committed to sustainability and therefore try to use local, ethically produced ingredients.

As we shall see later on, the craft beer niche is thriving—in fact, as the sale of alcohol falls in many countries, craft brewers are enjoying a boom more so among millennial beer drinkers. This rise in popularity can be attributed to various factors.

For one, more and more consumers are taking a keen interest in the unique flavors of beer—they are not just drinking beer for the sake of it. Rather, they are after new, exciting, and tantalizing tastes that are simply unavailable in commercial alcoholic drinks.

In addition to this, the new crop of beer drinkers is committed to supporting small local independent businesses over the macro companies that have dominated the industry in the last several decades. Now more than ever, younger drinkers want their hard-earned dollar to count and they are accomplishing this by buying small and buying locally.

What Is Draft Beer?

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Draft beer, also known as draught beer is any type of beer that is stored in stainless steel kegs and served from a tap.

Beer enthusiasts find beer that is served straight from a keg to be fresher, crispier, more bodied, and authentic than the variety that is packed in a can or bottle. After all, there is a short period of only a couple of days between the time the drink is transported from the brewery to the distributor then to the bar.

Kegs used to store draft beer typically come in 50, 20, and 5-liter sizes to suit the needs of large crowds and for home consumption.

Draft beer was initially referred to as draught, a word that originated from the ancient English word dragan, which meant ‘to pull.’ The word evolved over many centuries and eventually caught on as draft in the US and Canada and draught in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Draft beer is a popular choice among beer enthusiasts, and especially those who are into craft beer. Tap-drawn beer is considered superior to the bottled and canned variety for several reasons.

First, by storing the alcohol in the stainless steel kegs protects them from the degrading effects of light and oxygen. This ensures that the beer stays fresher for longer and consumers do not have to deal with the skunky off-taste of oxidized beer. In addition to this, compared to bottled or canned beer, draft beer is usually consumed faster, so you are assured of fresh beer, at least much of the time.

The History of Craft Beer

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Craft beer became a thing starting in the mid-1990s when beer sales began to decline partly because the many breweries that had cropped up earlier were beginning to make beer that no longer appealed to the beer-drinking population.

Before this, so-called microbreweries had emerged overnight as savvy businessmen rushed to cash in on the exploding alcohol industry. A lot of these brewers made good money but they also began caring less about the quality of the alcohol they were producing and consumers noticed.

Artisanal beer, made primarily by home-based brewers, came by in response to this dissatisfaction among consumers who were just looking for good beer. People were looking for a beer that is crafted, not merely manufactured by one of those money-first macro brewers.

Today, there is a bit of controversy over what really constitutes craft beer. Quite a number of big brewery companies are piggybacking on the growing popularity of crafted beer and are manufacturing beer with interesting names and flavors and terming these craft beer.

To the beer geek, beer that is manufactured in large quantities is widely available across international borders, and is even cheap does not qualify to be called craft beer. As conscious drinkers strive to take back the term ‘craft beer,’ maybe artisanal beer will be restored back to its former, authentic glory.

Can Draft Beer Be Sold Canned?

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You might come across alcohol brands that have slapped the terms draught or draft on their canned or bottled beer. You do not have to be a connoisseur to see that this is an oxymoron—draft beer derives its name from the fact that it is exclusively tap-drawn from kegs.

Bottled beer is the opposite of draft beer; they are not the same thing. So, the simple answer is, no authentic draft beer cannot be presented in cans or bottles.

Any beer enthusiast will also tell you that there is quite a difference in flavor between tap-drawn beer and bottled or canned beer. Factors such as storage, brewing, and pressurized dispensing greatly affect the flavor of draft vs bottled beer.

So, What’s the Difference Between Craft vs Draft Beer?

Now that we know what craft beer and draft beer are as well as their respective history, let’s look at the difference between the two.

The truth is, there is actually no significant difference between craft and draft beer. Beer that has been crafted and produced by a small, independent brewery can be tap-drawn and this would then transform it into draft beer.

On the other hand, draft beer that is stored in kegs and drawn from taps can either be artisanal or just regular beer.


Craft beer is all the rage among younger, sophisticated drinkers who are after innovative and refined flavors, whether bottled, canned, or tapped. Draft beer does have a long history, but at its core, this is just beer that is well stored to protect it from the vagaries of light and oxygen.

In the end, artisanal beer can be tapped to make it a draft beer and draft beer comes in all styles and flavors as long as it is stored in a keg.

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