I’m going to start this off by saying, no, I’m not a scientist. I don’t have reams of data or beakers full of beer samples to back up the Tap Beer vs Bottled Beer Theory I am proposing.
But what I am is a guy who likes to go to bars and drink beer. I’ve been doing it for years. About 16 years to be exact (I’m 37.) And over time I have noticed that there is almost no upside to drinking tap beer (even though it’s cheaper). I opt for bottled beer every time. And here’s why.
When you’re younger, hangovers are a sort of afterthought to drinking. They only come into an 21-year-old’s vocabulary after you drank like a collegiate rookie, getting so obliterated that you end up hugging the toilet for the better part of an evening.
But as one gets older, hangovers start to come into play much more than they did in your early years. Once you hit your thirties, something terrifying happens as your brain and your body start to part ways.
In your mind, you’re still a 21-year-old who can do all the things he used to do as a 21-year-old. Namely, staying out until three in the morning on a Tuesday, drinking and saying things which you think are funny, but on sober reflection probably aren’t as funny as you thought at the time. You stagger home, get three hours of pseudo-sleep, get up, go to work and do it all over again the next night.
But the problem is that your body has other plans for you. After the (already depressing) 30th birthday, three glasses of wine can send you on a two-day hangover, unable to cope with blinding 40-watt light bulbs and noises louder than a cough.
So, to make a long story short, as a 30+-year-old man who enjoys an ale from time to time (a lot of the time), I am keenly aware of my hangovers. My age has forced me to plan my drinking evening the way someone with OCD organizes their kitchen cabinets. Time between beers is acutely measured. Water is consumed in regular intervals. Shots have been turned down if I have consumed wine (but you can twist my arm if I’ve had less than three beers.)
Basically, I act like an old woman so I can still act like a young man.
And there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this: Tap beers give me a much worse hangover than bottled beers. Every. Single. Time.
If I go out to a bar and I drink three measly draft beers, I invariably wake up the next morning with a hangover. And it’s not your regular run-of-the-mill hangover where you have a headache and you feel a little slow.
After an evening of tap beer I feel like the middle of my brain has been poisoned. Part of my brain has been shattered and my palms are constantly sweaty. And it takes more than a full day for my exhausted body to extract this poison before I feel better. It doesn’t matter if it’s light beer, imported “high end” beer or watery domestic. It’s the same mind-crushing result every single time.
But last night I put back six bottled beers (5 Weihenstephaners and one Dos Equis) and I feel completely fine today. Honestly, no hangover at all. I even got up and went for a pre-work run. Something I wouldn’t dream of doing had I opted for the bar’s draught specials.
And what I’ve concluded (very unscientifically, I might add) is that bars don’t clean their taps and the draught beer you order travels through a tube that’s full of hangover-inducing bacteria, mold and spores. Just smell a tap beer. It smells like sour shit. And frankly, it usually tastes like sour shit, too. “Sour shit” is also the way my wife has described me after an evening of tap beer.
Now before you beer snobs snicker and tell me that I’m going to crappy bars and I deserve what I get for ordering such crap, this theory has been proven at every type of bar I’ve ever been to. Artisanal beer bar bartenders have sworn up and down to me that they clean their taps on a regular basis (which apparently is anywhere from once a week to once a month) and yet I still get the same hangover from a minor night of drinking.
So either they’re lying, I’m wrong, or there’s something different about tap beer.
Has anyone else out there experienced the same result? And if so, would you like to go to a bar, put back a few bottles and talk about it?