How To Order The Best Beer

How To Order The Best Beer

Many beer aficionados prefer beer on tap over bottled beer, but tap might not always be better. Charles Bamforth, author of Beer Is Proof God Loves Us and professor of malting and brewing sciences at UC Davis, told Chow how he decides between tap or bottle.

Photo by Melanie Lukesh

The ideal beer may be beer on tap, but it requires the establishment to clean the lines daily:

“If you have only one or two on tap and the person knows what they’re doing and at the end of the day they’re cleaning the lines and then rerunning the beer through the taps to expunge any cleaning solution, at the end of the day, it has the potential to be the best.”

An impressive number of beers on tap might not really serve you best, then, unless the bars and restaurants clean those lines nightly.

To get the best beer on tap, ask the bar or restaurant which beer is sold most, Bamforth advises. And for all types of beer, choose local instead of imported beer to avoid unintentional ageing. (Unless, perhaps, the beer was meant to be aged in a bottle, like higher alcohol, hoppy or darker beers.)

Tap or bottle? What do you prefer?

Is Beer on Tap Really the Best? [Chow]


  • The problem with the advise given is that it assumes all beers are created equal – which they are not; different beers appeal to different personal tastes. I personally wouldn’t for a second consider drinking VB on tap even if all the alternatives are bottled.

    In my own experience, what’s more important is the aroma. Being able to smell your beverage before tasting it helps to separate the flavours of each ingredient. Drinking a bottled beer from a glass will have a far bigger impact than choosing “the right tapped beer”.

    • I wouldn’t even for a second consider drinking VB, tap or bottle, but different strokes…

      Agree with you about the aromas though. It’s a fundamental part of the beer, why would you trap it all in a tiny bottle.

    • also, the most sold beer is not necessarily the best, Carlton Draught is a fantastic example of this. the club i work at, for example regularly sells three kegs of Carlton Draught to every one keg of the next most popular beer (Carlton dry), yet it is by no means the best beer there, only the most advertised.
      my advice, whenever you go buy beer from the bottle-o, buy a single bottle of something you’ve never heard of.

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