The Brew Site

Newcastle DraughtKeg review

Over the weekend I tapped that Newcastle five liter DraughtKeg that was sent to me, and I have my impressions wrapped up in the guise of a review. First off, it presents a somewhat imposing presence in the refrigerator; five liters is equal to 1.32 gallons and with the extra hardware on top there is only really room on the top shelf of my fridge.

The directions say to refrigerate for 10 hours (or put on ice for two), but that wasn’t a problem as it had been in there for days. I brought it out and took a look at the directions and parts to assemble (all two of them, not counting the keg itself).

It’s clear that the spout and handle assembly will fit onto the top, at the hole, and the directions provided looked quite easy. I’ll admit to some trepidation though as I had no idea what to expect as far as having over a metal container of pressurized liquid about to be punctured.

First you snap the lever handle onto the raised ring:

The you place the spout into the center of that assembly, piercing the center hold with the small spigot in the center:

That’s it. Then you lift up on the lever, it hisses and fizzes for a few seconds, and then beer and foam exit the spout-nozzle.

Then you drink the beer.

All in all, I’m pretty impressed with this. The assembly/setup took all of two minutes, there were no explosive spills or spurts, and quite frankly, the convenience of having a keg (okay, a definite mini-keg) in the fridge to draw beer from is very, very alluring—I have no problem with opening a bottle of beer, but there is something to be said for the instant gratification of pulling a variable amount of beer at will (rather than being constrained to 12 ounces at a time, for instance).

I could definitely see buying something like this, particularly if I had a dedicated beer fridge, though I suspect I would be more inclined to buy it if I were having a party rather than just as a day-to-day beer purchase for myself. And if there were more beer options available in DraughtKeg format—I believe right now Newcastle Brown Ale and Heineken are the only ones—that would be much better.

How about the beer? I’ve reviewed Newcastle Brown Ale before, and I will say that the Newcastle dispensed from this DraughtKeg is better than what you’ll find in the bottle. Particular a bottle that’s been on the shelf for any length of time and has developed the skunkiness prevalent with clear glass bottles.

In fact what I’ve noticed is not only are all the nutty, light-toffee flavors typical of Newcastle here, but there is also a more noticeable hop presence than I found in the bottle—a nice earthy herbal “pop” from English hops that is really pleasant. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s not present in the bottled versions of Newcastle that I’ve had, at all. It’s simply the best version of Newcastle Brown that I’ve had, and I’m enjoying it.

So overall, I like the package itself—it’s simple and easy to use—and the beer is better than the bottled version. I would consider buying this, particularly if I were hosting a party, but it will take up more space in the fridge than you might be accounting for. I don’t know what the cost would be, but you could run that through the six-pack equivalent calculator to find out (this DraughtKeg will yield the equivalent of 12 regular bottles of beer).