Home draught systems are generally sought after by most beer drinkers. In-home pouring (or in garage / basement pouring for most of us homesteaders) is more and more popular and many advantages are apparent; one empty instead of 164 empties, adjustable serving size, less $ per beer, being cooler than your friends and having lots of beer where you used to never have enough. I have to ask which is better though, bottles or barrels? Obviously the answer is both, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. An answer like that doesn’t give me much to say here does it?
I suppose that variety is an important factor in any beer drinker’s life. Representing enough different styles in your fridge to suit the whim of your mood is a major advantage of bottles. It is also a bit cumbersome to age a keg. I have not yet met anyone who has a keg cellar, not to mention the challenge in getting what you would likely want to age in a keg. Overall variety seems to be an issue as well. With amazing beer bars all around MA the small quantity of rare brew gets sent away before at home bar tenders can get a piece of the action. Most beer fanatics will ultimately be forced to choose bottles over barrels to fulfill the ever present need for something different. There is also much to be said about having a stout right when you want a stout (replace stout with any other style that you want right now), so much so that I have repeated this point.
The 1/6 Bbl size (5gal) is becoming more common in distribution of beer. Fueled by growing competition between beer serving establishments who see that they can have two taps in the same fridge space where they used to have just one. The same applies to your at home bar. A little ingenuity and a few parts from micromatic and you too can have two taps where there was one. This means variety. Or it means having your favorite on tap all the time without a jealous spouse. I have been ordering more and more specialty logs (slang for 1/6 Bbl) for patient customers this year and it seems to be growing still. It often takes a while to wrangle in some of the more esoteric offerings but a lot of good stuff is readily available these days. From what I see barrels are the choice of many as of late.
Okay, so what is the answer? Both, of course! If you haven’t looked into a draught system yet you should. Don’t give up on bottles though, you’ll need them to keep your beer spirit happy.