I'm achieving a rather bizarre sense of enlightenment and was hoping someone could explain the impact that force carbonation in a keg vs. force carbonation in a keg with eventually bottling off would have on a beer.
I ask this because I am now on my second beer, this one being an IIPA (Belgian yeast) that I've bottled straight from the keg after it being in the keg for 3-4 weeks, and now that I just cracked one, 2-3 weeks after putting it in the bottles, it tastes profoundly different than when it was in the keg.
I will admit that the hop aroma is dying off (which frankly, given the amount of dry hopping I did, is probably a good thing), the flavor is still mostly there, but it seems a lot more well-rounded and not as disjointed as it did while it was in the keg (bubble gum aroma, not much hop flavor, enamel stripping bitterness, it all seems to be centering on each other into a balanced mix now).
Is this just the effects of aging? I saw the same thing with a smoked porter using peat malt. I kegged it at the same time I did this IIPA, and had I not known that I put peated malt in it, I never would have tasted it. After I bottled it (again, same day as this IIPA, I used 4-5% peated malt), and let it sit until last Thursday, it tasted like someone encapsulated the entire Amazonian rain forest after being burnt to the ground by a bunch of torch wielding 7 foot tall blonde beauties all in one bottle. I never got that sense of flavor when it was kegged, not even close, and I'm depressed that I drank almost all of it before I could get this flavor out of it.
What gives? Is it just age? Does bottling with less head room for the CO2/beer to breathe have some sort of effect on flavor? Is something else at work?