Whilst on our recent trip to Australia we came across a new system for the commercial beer consumer that allows cold draught (draft) beer to be dispensed from your home fridge – this system is called the “Tap King”.
The Tap King system was launched in late 2013 and is accompanied by a TV ad campaign featuring Lionel Richie. The system comprises of a reusable dispenser and replacement 3.2 litre bottles containing the following commercial beers:
- Castlemaine XXXX Gold
- Tooheys Extra Dry
- Hahn Super Dry
- Tooheys New
- James Boag’s Premium Lager
- James Squire The Chancer Golden Ale
For those who are not familiar with Australian beers, all of the above are Lagers except for the Chancer Golden Ale and these beers range from 3.5% ABV to around 5%.
The Tap King system was devised by Lion, who are one of Australia’s largest beverage and food companies, and is available at most bottle shops. The Tap King dispenser cost us AUD 32 (approx USD 29, EUR 21, GBP 17) and the 3.2 litre (0.7 US gal, 67.6 fl oz, 4.2 US pints) bottles of beer cost between AUD 18 – 27 with a saving of a dollar or two if twin packs are purchased.
The dispenser comes in a box together with an instruction booklet, a Tap King magnetic badge, a mini-drip tray, and a cap removal tool. Each bottle comes complete with a cap and a protective lid to keep the cap fittings clean. The cap is made of tough plastic and features the following:
- a sealed 12mg CO2 canister that is moulded into the rear of the bottle cap.
- a regulator valve that allows CO2 into the bottle to ‘push’ out the beer.
- a tube that goes to the bottom of the bottle so beer can flow out of the bottle through the draught tap.
- two moulded wings on opposite sides of the cap that are used to pull the bottle of beer into the dispenser, lock it in position and pierce the CO2 canister to pressurize the bottle.
Note: the beer is already carbonated and that the CO2 canister is use purely to dispense the beer.
Here are the steps to set up the Tap King with a bottle of beer:
- Ensure the bottle has been chilled in the fridge for approx. 9 hours at 2-6 deg C (35 – 43 deg F).
- Align the arrow on the bottom of the dispenser with the arrow on the cap and pull down the lever until a ‘click’ is heard. A button showing a glass of beer will be shown when the bottle is fully engaged with the dispenser.
- Fit the drip tray to the dispenser and the badge to the tap.
- Lay down the Tap King and pour the beer into a glass held at a 45 degree angle.
We found that the first beer pours very frothy but the second onwards pours fine. The beer pours and tastes like draught beer with the mouth-feel being smoother than the same beer coming out of a glass bottle. Each 3.2 litre bottle contains the equivalent of 10 bottles (320ml or 10.8 fl oz) of beer making it cost-effective compared to buying 6-packs after the dispenser has been purchased. Once opened a bottle of beer will last 21 days in the fridge.
The drip tray is mounted on a spring so as you straighten up the glass whilst pouring it slides in and then pops back out to catch the drips once the glass is taken away – a clever piece of design we thought! There is plenty of pressure in the CO2 canister to dispense a whole bottle.
Once the bottle has been finished the button showing the ‘glass of beer’ is pressed to release the bottle from the dispenser. In order to recycle the plastic bottle the cap removal tool is used to unscrew the cap. The drip tray and the tap can both be removed from the dispenser in order to clean them.
It is possible to get specific beer brand badges from the Tap Kingdom Facebook page once you have ‘Liked’ it to customize your Tap King.
Overall we liked this beer device and think it would work well in a number of other countries around the world though to have wider appeal we felt the beers could do with a wider variety e.g. Pale Ales, Hefeweizens, Brown Ales etc.
If you have any thoughts or questions on the Tap King draught system please let us know by leaving comments below.