The Ultimate Brew Brawl: Craft Beer Vs Draft Beer

Jun 14, 2024

craft beer vs draft beer

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The craft beer vs. draft beer debate has been raging for some time now. In today’s society, where everyone seems to care so much about labels, understanding the differences and similarities between the two can help you make informed decisions about which one to indulge in. 

What Is Craft Beer? 

Put simply, craft beer is an artisanal beer made by a small, independent brewer. According to the Brewers Association, a brewery may be considered small if it produces less than 6 million barrels of beer in a year. 

To meet the “independent” tag, the craft brewer must own at least 75% of the brewery while the remaining 25% is owned by a beverage alcohol industry member who produces non-craft beer. 

How Is Craft Beer Different From Regular Beer?

Craft beer has several distinguishing characteristics. First, it’s a custom-made brew with a keen focus on quality and craftsmanship. That means its production is driven by innovation and the brewer’s personal inclination. Because it is produced on a smaller scale, craft brewers can experiment with different techniques, mixtures and flavors to make the beer stand out.

Ingredient selection is another crucial distinction between craft beer and regular brews. Artisanal brewers prioritize the finest local ingredients in their recipes. They use a generous amount of malted barley for a full-bodied flavor and often experiment with different grains like wheat, oats or rye for that extra depth. As a result, craft beer is usually characterized by rich and complex flavor profiles. 

If you prefer your beers to have a little or a lot more kick, then you’ll definitely love craft beers. These beverages are known for their higher alcohol by volume (ABV) content compared to their mass-produced counterparts. Where most regular beers typically have an ABV ranging from 4% to 10%, craft beers can have an ABV of up to 67.5%, which is the case for Snake Venom — the world’s strongest beer.

Craft Beer in the United States

Modern craft beer in the U.S. has come a long way since homebrewing became federally legal in 1978. Before then, individuals experimented with various brew recipes and methods, subject to state regulations. 

The last few years have seen a massive surge in the popularity and demand for craft beers thanks to staunch support from beer lovers. As of 2022, there were 9,552 U.S. craft breweries, including 261 regional facilities that produce various styles of beer. This means you don’t have to look far to find a variety of delicious small-batch brews anytime. 

What Is Draft Beer? 

Draft beer refers to any type of beer stored in a cask or a pressurized steel keg and served from a tap. The containers used to store draft beer come in a variety of sizes — 5, 20 and even 50 liters — to accommodate large crowds and home consumption. Think college parties and pubs.

Why Is It Called Draft Beer?

The word “draft” originates from the old English word “dragan,” which means to draw or pull. Many countries, including Australia, Ireland and the UK, pronounce and spell it as draught, with the meaning staying the same. 

Although draft beer is produced similarly to bottled or canned beer, aficionados know there is a distinct difference. Draft beer typically has a crispier, full-bodied, and bolder palate profile. This is because storing the booze in a pressurized keg protects it from the degrading effects of oxygen and ultraviolet light. The storage method ensures the beer stays fresher for longer and has a fresher taste than its bottled counterpart. 

What Is the Difference Between Craft Beer and Draft Beer?

Armed with the history of these beverages, let’s delve deeper into the craft beer vs draft beer discussion. Understanding these differences can help you choose the brew that suits your preferences. 

Brewing Method

Craft Beer is produced in small batches by independent breweries using a wide range of techniques as determined by the brewer. Draft beer is brewed using traditional methods and stored in large barrels or kegs. 

Brewing craft beer is a labor of love, with the brewer’s personal touch evident in every sip. Draft beer brewing, on the other hand, tends to follow mass-production standards. That’s why experts often say any craft beer can be a draft beer, but not all draft beer is craft beer. 


Craft beers incorporate high-quality and locally sourced ingredients, whereas draft beers typically use standard brewing components. 

Flavor and Varieties

You’ll often find craft beers in a wide range of complex flavors, from ghost pepper spicy to chocolate chip cookie sweet and even weirder profiles like whale testicles — yep, that exists. Draft beers tend to have a more consistent and crispier appeal thanks to their unique storage and serving methods. 


Due to its small-scale production, craft beer is not as ubiquitous as draft beer. In many cases, you can only find certain craft beers in regions where they are brewed or in large stores. Draft beers are more widely available worldwide. 

Is Craft Beer Healthier?

According to a recent study, craft beers may be healthier than their conventional counterparts thanks to their higher phenolic compound content. Further research is required to validate these claims, and should by no means be a reason to drink irresponsibly. 

Similarities Between Craft Beer and Draft Beer

Despite their distinct traits, craft beer and draft beers share certain similarities that contribute to their overall enjoyment.

For one, they’re both known for their fantastic freshness and pleasant drinking experience. Craft and draft beers are typically carbonated and served at super-cold temperatures, so every sip feels refreshing. Lastly, while craft beers have a more comprehensive range of flavors and complexities, they’re both tasty beverages that anyone can enjoy. 

Craft Beer Vs. Draft Beer: Which Is Better?

Choosing between craft beer and draft beer ultimately comes down to your personal preference. At the end of the day, beer is about indulgence followed by shared laughter and togetherness. Whether you’re sipping on a handcrafted brew rich with the flavors of its unique ingredients or relishing a cold crisp lager served from a keg, the joy of beer drinking remains the same. 

So let’s celebrate this golden brew in all its forms. Let’s appreciate the artistry of craft beers, the consistency of draft beers and above all, the passion and dedication that brewers put into every batch. Each pint holds a new experience, so here’s a toast to beer in all its diverse glory. Cheers!

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.