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What constitutes a draft beer, and how different is it? I see this term plastered on beer cans, but I have no idea what it means, or how it affects the beer's taste.

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Draft beer is another name for Draught beer, it means that the beer is served from a cask or a keg.

When you see this term plastered on beer cans, then it means that it's a Canned Draught. The can contains a widget. This widget was invented by Guinness in order to let consumers drink a Draught beer at home. This differs from a typical can in that the beer is usually carbonated by forcing CO2 directly into the bottle/can or intermediary vessel, or by "bottle conditioning" (leaving live yeast in the beer and adding something for it to eat, creating CO2 and more alcohol).

Everyone on this site should be thankful for Guinness for having invented the widget!

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    That little plastic thing that makes the beer explode out of the can? :) – SF. Jan 22 '14 at 9:19
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    Thanks for pointing out the widget. So that's the purpose of that ball. First time I drank a Guinness I was like, "why is there a ball in my can?". – IBG Jan 22 '14 at 14:33
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    -1 It isn't true that draught means served from a cask or keg. The beers before draught came about were also served from a cask, but they were simply served under gravity. Draught is an old term for "drawn" that the beer is somehow drawn from the cask, such as with a hand pump. Nowadays, it's either via a beer engine or CO2 pressure. – mdma Feb 2 '14 at 19:09
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Simply put, a draft (or draught) beer is one that uses a mechanism to push the beer from it's container (barrel/keg or can.) Typically the beer is pushed using gas, or drawn via a partial vacuum.

A regular (non-draught) beer is a beer decanted without any special mechanism. For example a beer served directly from the bottle or a beer served from a tap inserted into the base of the cask/barrel and gravity fed.

  • How does gravity-fed draught fit in (say, a cask tap)? That seems like a draught beer to me. – object88 Jan 23 '14 at 0:26
  • That's not draft. That's what I say at the end - gravity fed from the cask/barrel is not draught. (I've expanded to clarify what I mean.) Serving directly from the cask was how they did it before draught beer came along. – mdma Jan 23 '14 at 2:27

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