BzzAgent campaign I received a Draftmark Tap System to review. The Draftmark Tap System is a beer delivery system that allows you to enjoy cold draft beer from your refrigerator. I've always liked draft beer better, but never understood why. There are two factors that make draft beer better. The first is it's unpasteurized. The second is the delivery system that delivers the beer under pressure making it taste smoother and giving a more dense head. So, is the Draftmark worth the expense and trouble? To my surprise, I think so. I wouldn't have paid $50 to try this. Offered one for free, I thought "Why not?" Read on to find out why I think it's worth the investment.
The Draftmark Tap System is a fairly sophisticated but easy-to-use, self-contained system that delivers beer from non-refillable plastic refills you buy at your local beer retailer. As of this writing, April 2013, the beer is available in 14 markets across the country. So, before you rush out and buy one, check to make sure someone in your area sells the beer. Draftmark has a list of retailers on their website. Unfortunately, due to state law in Ohio, they couldn't list the actual retailers where I live and I got my system on the weekend- when the distributor was closed. I am an impatient man. So, I took a chance and went to Jungle Jim's. They had the system and the refills (however, they only had Bass Ale). You should be able to find Bass Ale, ShockTop, Michelob Amberbock and/or Budweiser (yuck!). The marketing materials I received also indicated they would have Goose Island, even though their website isn't showing that at the moment. The refills are 1 gallon plastic jugs that are sealed and non-reusable. They were $13.99 each at my local retailer- except Goose Island- which they didn't have, but there was a sign saying it was $14.99. I compared that to a six pack of Bass to see if this system was saving me any money. A six pack of Bass was on sale for $7.49, normally $8.49. The price of the beer in the keg and the price in a bottle was almost exactly the same at around $0.10/ounce. The Draftmark system itself is about $50 retail. So, you're not going to buy this to save money. After the $50 investment in the system, the beer is going to cost you about the same as buying it in bottles. I'm cheap. So, this would be a problem for me if the beer didn't taste better. The good news is the beer does taste better. Draftmark gives one of the benefits of their system as less packaging. That's true. Maybe you're saving the planet, but the cost savings is not being passed along to you. As I said, it's going to cost you roughly the same as buying a premium quality beer. I didn't do the pricing for Budweiser, but as far as I can tell the Budweiser refills are the same price, so I would think Budweiser would cost you more than buying Bud in bottles. Why you'd buy Budweiser draft is beyond me though.
Back to the Draftmark. The system itself is compact and self-contained. Some of those disposable kegs you buy to put into your refrigerator take up a lot of room (a problem in my house). The Draftmark Tap System lays horizontally and should fit easily into your refrigerator. The system has a compressor that senses when it needs to come on. There is no on and off switch. However, there is a rechargeable battery. There is no assembly required with the system and the instructions are clear and easy to follow when it comes to inserting the beer keg. There is practically no cleaning involved because each keg comes with a disposable replacement spout. The keg is supposed to keep for 30 days in your refrigerator. If you're not drinking ten 12 ounce beers in 30 days, you're probably not going to invest in a Draftmark. The cost of the spout may be one reason the refills are fairly expensive. The most difficulty I had in setting it up was that the instructions said something about the spout snapping into place and that didn't happen for me in spite of repeatedly installing it. It wasn't really a difficulty. I now know I had the spout in correctly. I just wanted to be sure. I did not want beer pouring out all over the inside of my refrigerator. After you insert the spout, the keg slips into the Draftmark and you twist it to lock it in place. You swing the door closed and that taps the keg. You're ready to pour your first beer.
The system comes with clear instructions and there is a technical support line, just in case you have problems. I shot a video of me assembling it, but now I realize Draftmark has one on their website.
If you want draft quality beer at home, don't have the room or the money for a kegator and don't drink enough beer to justify that for your man cave, the Draftmark Tape System is a great alternative that will fit into a normal sized refrigerator and won't cost you an arm and a leg.