Monday, June 20, 2011

Product Review: Newcastle DraughtKeg

I got a press release back in April asking if I wanted to check out a new product — the Newcastle Brown Ale DraughtKeg. A free 5 liters of beer? Heck yeah, I'll do that.

Now, this isn't really a new product. Heineken (which owns Newcastle) has been available in DraughtKeg since at least 2007. But it's new to me, and probably new to a lot of my readers, who probably aren't big Heineken drinkers.

I know you've probably seen similar 5 liter kegs in the store, but this product has a key difference that puts it well ahead of those: It's pressurized. The others are simply oversized cans — the beer comes out via gravity, and must all be consumed at once. Which isn't too hard if you're buying for a party.

But the DraughtKeg's patented pressurization system (it has some sort of widget inside, like the "draught cans" we've seen from a lot of English beers lately) and specialized tap actually keeps the beer good for up to 30 days. In fact, I decided to test them on this claim – rather than knocking this thing out all at once, I kept it in my beer fridge and took a glass every so often. I finally killed the last of it at a party exactly 30 days later, and sure enough, it had not gone flat. Creamy smooth, still at the same level of carbonation as the first day. So obviously, that's huge advantage over the others — buy it for a party, or just because you want to have a steady supply of draught Newcastle around your house on demand. Either way, it works superbly, and if you have a BeerTender system, it's compatible with that.

My only quibbles with the DraughtKeg:
  • The "patented" part. That means you're only going to purchase this if you like Heineken or Newcastle. Really, I'm not a big fan of Newcastle. (Actually, to be fair, I'm not a fan of brown ales generally.) But I know many of you are, which made this product worth reviewing. I dearly wish Heineken would decide to really capitalize on this technology and sell the rights to some other breweries. Keep a mini-keg of Sierra Nevada in my fridge? You bet!
  • It's "recyclable." I put that in quotes because I'm not so sure about that, despite their claim that it is. Technically, yes, it is made out of recyclable materials — steel and plastic. But it isn't easily disassembled, and I'm hesitant to crack open a pressurized can to get that widget out. The question is, will your recycler accept it? I asked our local recycler, the city of Austin, and they said they cannot. They suggested I take it to a private recycler such as Ecology Action and ask them. If it's not easily recycled, that certainly discourages a tree-hugger like me from buying it. Of course, if you live in a locale that doesn't have a good recycling program, then I suppose you can buy it guilt-free, because either way your beer container is going to a landfill.
  • There tends to be a bit of drippage after you pour, which can be a little messy if you store it in your fridge.
Overall: A great product, with only minor drawbacks. If you like Newcastle, you're going to love this.

(Photo copyright Lee Nichols)


Dave Player said...

Any idea when and where these might be available in the Austin area?

- Brown Ale fan

Lee said...

I've already seen it at the Spec's on Airport. Look down on the bottom shelf with the other mini-kegs.

Tim said...

Cool! Thanks for the review!