If you could murder a pint but do without the trudge to the pub, an at-home beer tap is the perfect addition to your night in.
With only 15 per cent of surveyed drinkers seeing pub prices as affordable pre-pandemic (before recent price increases), it’s no wonder at-home drinking is a booming business.
But gone are the days of a warm can of bitter or a lager straight from the bottle. Now, drinkers are fast becoming savvy when it comes to creating the pub experience in the comfort of their own kitchens.
Our selection of the best beer dispensers shows just how easy it is to pour perfection in a pint glass. Choose a simple plastic tap and tower dispenser for quick beer access, or go the whole hog and install a system to carbonate and chill your usual.
There are also some fantastic gadgets to take an ordinary supermarket can or bottle to new, frothy heights. Just add pork scratchings to your evening and you’re good to go.
A plug-in machine for the serious beer lover, these kegs come in a 6l (around 10.5 pints) size and are easy to click into the casing and hook up to the tap. Kegs can be chilled down to 3 degrees and the easy-pour pints are perfectly smooth. This bundle includes the machine, two kegs, a beer mat and two pint glasses. There are 18 other popular beer kegs in the PerfectDraft-compatible range, including Corona, Brewdog, Goose Island and Leffe Blonde, with prices starting at around £30 each. Owing to its popularity it’s currently out of stock, so make sure you sign up to the waiting list.
Buy now £236.50, Beerhawk.co.uk
Load a beer “torp” (holds 2l which is just under four pints) into the sub, feed a rubber tube through to the tap and your perfect pint is almost ready to be poured. Speed the process up by keeping subs in the fridge first and the machine will take them colder to two-degrees. Stock up with Heineken and affiliated beers such as Birra Moretti, Tiger and Sol (from £8.99, Beerwulf.com). Really stylish and compact, it’ll take up the same space as a four-slot toaster. The drinks pour well, with a bit of practise on glass-tilting to get the right size of head on a pint.
Buy now £135.00, Beerwulf.com
This is a battery-operated tap that was launched by thirsty backers on Kickstarter. Don’t ask us how the magic happens, but we’re told it’s sound waves, rather than chemicals or canisters, taking any size of can or bottle beer and improving its flavour, aroma and “mouth feel”. We certainly noticed a creamier, denser head on lager and it was a big hit with our drinking buddies. It takes up about the same space as your kitchen blender, but hey, who needs smoothies? It’s currently on pre-order.
Buy now £129.00, Menkind.co.uk
Attention, footballers and famouses! Too rich and recognisable to pop out to the pub but still fancy a pint? Bring the brewery home with this top-of-the-range, built-in beer tap for the kitchen. There’s no messing around here – this one will hook up to 10l, 30l or 50l kegs direct from your favourite brewery and is supplied with a CO2 canister, pub-style.
Easy to clean with the supplied disinfectant tabs, which should be used to flush out the “lines” every fortnight or so (tell your staff), it controls temperature from 4-8C and looks the absolute business. Installation can be done by proficient DIYers in possession of a drill – a hole is needed to feed the dispenser from a pump below, but you’ll need a two-cupboard decked space the width of a standard-size kitchen unit. Supplied screws are then used to fix the pump in place.
Buy now £1791.99, Tapsuk.com
Suitable for all drinks, but we say out with the lemonade, in with the beer! This is the item to have on your buffet spread, if the Hyacinth Bucket in you can’t stand the sight of a load of cans marking your marble tops. It will take 2.5l of your favourite tipple and keep it cold with a central core that you should fill with ice. No frills and drip tray with this one, so have a beer mat handy.
Buy now £29.99, Drinkstuff.com
This beer tap uses (supplied) CO2 pressurised cartridges to give just the right amount of fizz and flavour. It is also compatible with 5l kegs that you’re likely to find at your local brewery, rather than the high street. Keeps beer and lager chilled to perfection and looks like the real deal in any man/woman cave. It will take up three-quarters of the depth of most worktops, but is not as wide as the PerfectDraft system (£279.50, Beerhawk.co.uk).
Buy now £199.99, Klarstein.co.uk
A kegerator is a refrigerator that’s been specially designed to store, dispense and keep kegs of beer in a chilled environment so that it remains fresh and carbonated for longer. Components of a kegerator usually included a stainless-steel keg, CO2 cylinder and pressure regulator, a tap, tower, drip tray, shank, faucet and faucet handle.
The most important part of the keg is the coupler, which differs depending on what beer you wish to dispense. For example, Beck’s, Heineken, Amstel and Stella require a system S coupler, while Guinness and Harp need a system U, so you’ll want to consider which coupler is right for you.
The dispensation of CO2 and the right pressure conditions can keep unpasteurised draft beer fresh for about 45-60 days and pasteurised draft beer for about 90-120 days. Once dispensing keg beer, it will remain fresh for no longer than 8-12 hours.
From camping trips to fish aquariums, CO2 is necessary for many things, so it’s easy to refill your kegs. You can refill CO2 bottles at most dealers for camping supplies, beverage shops and some DIY stores.
Most manufacturers recommend rinsing the tap unit every time you change the keg and surface cleaning the rest of the dispenser, using a damp cloth on the exterior and a dry cloth to clean the inside of the cooling chamber. Often, dish trays are dishwasher safe but always double check and handwash if not. Never fully immerse beer machines in water.
Most machines boast a plug in-and-go design with kegs that click in and can be easily hooked up to the tap. Others – such a the Fizzics machine (£129, Menkind.co.uk) – are battery or USB operated, while larger setups such as the CDA machine (£1,791.99, Tapsuk.com) require a DIY approach with drills, as the pump is designed to be built into your kitchen.
Though every home should banish the microwave and have a CDA integrated beer tap instead, we can’t all afford this kind of domestic bliss. A clear winner, then, is the PerfectDraft system because of its stylish looks, perfect-pouring pints and the ease with which you can change the kegs. Cheers!
Discover our favourite British beers, from ale to lager
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