How to Define Perfect Draft Beer with Master Cicerone Neil Witte

Perfect Beer Talks #5 How to Define Perfect Draft Beer?

Perfect Beer Talks is here again and ready to tell you all about defining the perfect draft beer! After our incredible episodes about Digital Transformation of the Beer Industry with Jason Lambert, and The Future of Beer with Chad Woskow and Matthew Geary, now it’s time to talk about perfect draft beer. In the 5th episode of Perfect Beer Talks, our CEO Can Algul hosted Master Cicerone Neil Witte, and talked about his definition of perfect draft beer.

Neil is a prominent draft beer expert, a certified beer judge, and only one of the 20 people who hold the ‘Master Cicerone’ title. But what makes someone a “Master Cicerone”? Cicerone is a beer expert who passes two or more levels of the Cicerone Certification Program that educates and tests experts on different categories of beer such as serving beer, flavor, food pairings, etc. Master Cicerone is one of the highest ranks a beer expert could achieve, and earning such an exclusive certification is the result of hard work, love for beer, and dedication for sure!

Neil has been working in the beer industry for over 20 years and is a Quality Ambassador for the Brewers Association. He also co-authored the one-of -a-kind draft beer guide Draught Beer Quality Manual and is the founder of TapStar, a draft beer quality certification program. Neil is one of the best people to ask about how to define perfect draft beer with his expertise, and he and Can had a fascinating conversation in this episode.

 

Worth of Mention Points from Neil & Can

“If you talk to a lot of people in the beer business, a lot of them have backgrounds that are not at all related to beer, whatsoever.”

-Neil Witte Master Cicerone

Journey of Being a Master Cicerone 

 The beer industry welcomes everyone regardless of their background, and determination is the key. For example, Neil studied German and Philosophy in college, but he was so impressed by the beer he drank while he was traveling around Europe that he decided to brew his own beer. Homebrewing was not that popular when he started, but it got Neil into the beer industry. With his skills in beer brewing and sales, he worked for a brewery for years where he saw the retail issues about draft beer and decided to learn more about perfect draft beer.

 

“I think that draft beer is one of the unique things that beer has to offer. We don’t really see this in other alcoholic beverages. The ability to serve from a large container is generally considered to be fresher than in a bottle. You have less surface area of a container in contact with the liquid, you have one of the most sustainable packages out there, it’s returnable and reusable over and over again. It’s a unique value proposition for a retailer to be able to give somebody a sample. It’s a unique opportunity sampling for the consumer where they can drink one of them without having to commit to buying a 6-pack. It’s something unique that beer has to offer retailers and consumers. I don’t see it going away anytime soon.”

-Neil Witte Master Cicerone

Draft beer is one of the oldest and most sustainable systems for serving, transporting, preserving, and dispensing beer. According to Neil, the history of draft beer is as old as beer itself, and the closest thing to authentic draft beer could be the cask ale of the United Kingdom since beer was stored in and served from wooden kegs before steel kegs. Thanks to the refrigeration systems of today, we can store, serve and distribute cold beer. Cold beer is undoubtedly more enjoyable for the consumer, plus low temperatures keep the carbonation level of beer steady.

 

Defining Perfect Draft Beer 

“The average person drinking beer might not notice all of these things and part them out, we don’t expect them to. I don’t expect everybody to focus on all of these details. I just want the person who is going to drink a beer at the bar to drink it and  be like ‘Yeah, I like it’.”

-Neil Witte Master Cicerone

 Neil stated that he looks for four essential properties in draft beer. 

  • Freshness. Draft beer is the most delicious and the freshest form of beer for sure. Stale beer could develop cherry-like and honey-like flavors or straight-up taste like wet cardboard. 
  • Draft line hygiene. The draft line affects the taste of the beer more than you think! Draft lines should be cleaned regularly because bacteria and yeast could grow inside. If not, you can get buttery tastes while drinking beer from dirty draft lines, or your beer could look musty. 
  • Glassware. Serving glasses must be clean for the perfect draft beer. If you see bubbles around your glass after freshly poured beer, it might not be as clean as you think! 
  • Proper carbonation. Carbonation level is crucial for getting the perfect beer. Some systems might serve flat beer, whereas others might serve fizzy, over-carbonated beer. Draft beer should contain just enough carbonation to give the perfect taste for every sip. 

 

Serving High-Quality Draft Beer 

“TapStar is a certification for retailers that are doing all the right things to serve a great glass of beer.”

-Neil Witte Master Cicerone

Neil is the founder of an incredible certification program for supervising draft beer quality, TapStar. He checks the freshness, hygiene, glassware, and overall quality of the draft beer system and grades pubs every six months before certifying them. Also, you better have glassware other than the classic shaker pint because Neil won’t approve it otherwise! Unfortunately, TapStar is only available for pubs in Kansas right now, so if you are looking for perfect beer elsewhere, you can check our Pubinno Selections Map

 

The Internet of Beer: Pubinno

Although draft beer is one of the biggest sectors in the beer industry, retailers still face issues about serving the perfect draft beer. The taste of draft beer is affected by different factors more than you think, but Pubinno’s Smart Tap is here to help both retailers and consumers to have that lovely perfect beer. 

In this episode, Neil told us about his journey to being a Master Cicerone, the properties of perfect draft beer, the importance of draft line cleaning, and much more. To learn more about beer, you can visit our blog here. If you also pay attention to the hygiene levels of draft lines to get the perfect beer every time, you should check out one of our newest technologies, Smart Clean. We would love to see you for our next episode. Stay tuned! 

Cheers!