If you love lagers, IPAs, stouts, or ales, there are some things you should know before you take another sip of beer. Hopefully, you know that it's not always the best idea to drink a beer after its expiration date. Hopefully, you're familiar enough with the smell of good beer to know when it's skunked, but there are precautions you can take at a bar or restaurant to make sure you're not getting an inferior drink. Jeff Tyler, co-owner and head brewer of Spice Trade Brewery + Kitchen, told Mashed, "In general draft beer is seen as the best option when it comes to fresh beer when you're out at a bar or restaurant."
Unfortunately, if you're not an award-winning brewer with over a decade of experience like Tyler, you may not know what causes a beer to go bad in the first place. According to Tyler, "The three biggest enemies of fresh beer are oxygen, temperature, and exposure to light. The more exposure to any of these three variables, the quicker your beers' flavors will degrade." If you didn't brew the beer, it may be difficult to ascertain whether the beer has been affected by these three aspects, but there are clues to look out for.
Be Alert For Cleanliness At Dive Bars
Exposure to light can skunk a beer pretty quickly (that's why beer bottles are usually brown or green). So your first step to guaranteeing a delicious, fresh pint is to avoid beer that is in a glass bottle. Secondly, serving it too cold can make it bitter or even tasteless, disguising all the subtle distinctions that made you want to drink it in the first place. But too warm can make your drink taste flat and boring. If you're trying to figure out what the best temperature is for your favorite beer, you can find handy charts online.
The last variable, oxygen, might be slightly better to focus on when you're out drinking. "Kegs have a lower oxygen pickup during the packaging process than cans or bottles do so they tend to be the best option assuming they are stored cold once filled with beer," Jeff Tyler said. But, as with many things, there is an exception to the rule. If the beer lines aren't cleaned at least every biweekly, bacteria can build up. According to Tyler, "If you're out at a random dive bar and their tables aren't clean, chances are their draft lines aren't either and you should stick to a can or bottle."
If you decide to order the draft anyway and you notice a buttered popcorn flavor, don't drink it. "This is called Diacetyl and is a dead giveaway that the lines are dirty," Tyler said.
Read the original article on Mashed.