All bets are off for the gadget most men will be putting at the top of their Christmas lists this year. I’ve just had a hands-on demonstration of Carlsberg’s new Draughtmaster, which lets you pull pints of lager in the alcoholic comfort of your own home. And while it’s got a couple of flaws, I can still think of a dozen friends off the top of my head who’ll want it.
The device basically lets you pour pints of Carlsberg Export through a proper beer tap, and takes five-litre kegs, which is almost nine pints. It's not the first home pint-puller, but it's the most environmentally-friendly.
“There’ve been a few on the continent, but they used aluminium kegs,” says Carlsberg marketing controller Chris Lewis. “You have to return them to a store to get a refill. Ours are made of plastic, and fully recyclable, so when you finish one keg, you just pop it in the recycling bin and fit another one. And it also means we can sell them online.”
The Draughtmaster goes on sale next week in 85 branches of Tesco Extra, and on the Tesco website. It’ll cost £129, with kegs costing £13.99 each – i.e. around £1.55 a pint. However, if popular it’ll go on general sale next year through other stores and websites. Carlsberg developed the technology, and then partnered with Breville to make the device itself.
“The idea was to have something that’ll sit happily in people’s kitchens,” says Lewis. “It won’t look out of place next to your smoothie maker or coffee maker. And the advantage is that there’s no fiddly cleaning to do once you’ve finished a keg, unlike those devices.”
So what about the potential flaws? First is the lack of choice – it’s not much use if you don’t drink Carlsberg Export. However, Lewis says that when the Draughtmaster goes on general release, the company intends to widen the choice of kegs to include its other brands. He mentions Carlsberg and Skol, and the company also owns Tetley's.
Secondly, to work properly, the kegs need to be cold. “We recommend putting them in the fridge overnight or for half a day,” says Lewis. “Once it’s in there, the built-in chiller keeps it cool, but it does need to be cold when you start. The colder the beer, the better the pour!”
This proved to be the case during the demonstration, where the Draughtmaster produced an enormous head on two successive pints. And yes, Lewis was holding the glass at 45 degrees. The problem was that having fitted a new keg to demonstrate how quick it is to do – and it took around 10-15 seconds – it hadn’t been chilled enough. Hence the mighty head.
This is all fair enough, but imagine you’ve invited, say, four friends round to see your new gadget, as you would. And say you stick to the British binge-drinking stereotype and drink five pints each over the course of the evening, making 25 pints in all. That’s three sizeable kegs that you need to have chilling in your fridge for a day beforehand. Admittedly, for most single men, this isn’t a problem, especially as many already have entire fridges devoted to booze.
Carlsberg is quite keen to stress that the Draughtmaster isn’t intended as any kind of pub-killer. “It’s not about stopping people from going to the pub,” says Lewis. “We know people drink at home from cans and bottles, and we know they’re not happy with that. At least they’ll now have an alternative – a freshly pulled pint!”
Rest assured, we’ll have this in for a video review as soon as we can get our hands on one (and recover from the subsequent hangover).