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Gear Test 2017: Beer Service

Our editors tested and reviewed the best stuff for serving beer. Here are the results.

1 year, 5 months ago

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Our editors tested and reviewed the best stuff for serving beer. Here are the results.

DraftPak

The DraftPak (above, left) is a way to quickly and easily tap a keg and serve cold beer. It taps directly onto any standard size U.S. sanke keg.

Test lab notes

Setting up with our system was easy and quick—we placed it on top of a sixtel, connected the lines, added our ice to the DraftPak, and we were pouring cold, frothy beer in minutes. The setup doesn’t come with its own CO2 tank and requires a very small one, so be prepared. The cooler kept the beer cold, and we simply replaced the ice and drained the water inside to maintain temperature. Cleanup was very easy. The contents inside the cooler drained nicely, and we were able to easily flush the lines for the next use. This is a great choice for going to beer festivals, going camping with friends, or to places where easy refrigeration (and full size jockey boxes with external tanks) aren’t an option.

Scorecard

Easy to Use? X
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment?
High Value?

Price: $325
Manufacturer: DraftPak
Available from: draftpak.com

Fizzics Waytap

Fizzics Waytap (above, middle) lets you share and enjoy the true taste of beer the way the brewers intended, whenever and wherever you want.

Test lab notes

The Waytap’s goal is to take packaged beer and give it the qualities of a draft beer, with a more stable head, softer mouthfeel, inviting appearance, and social experience. For testing, we put a range of beers through the system and did blind tasting among more than ten people. The difference in the beer was immediately apparent. The beer was smoother, head consistency was more uniform, and it toned down some of the hoppier notes while accentuating the body of the beer. For us, this was an improvement for some beers (biting IPAs and certain barrel-aged stouts) while it detracted from other styles (hazy IPAs, Pilsners, and ambers). The way it modified the beer was cool, but the experience of taking a can or bottle and pouring it as a draft was equally fun.

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Scorecard

Easy to Use? X
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment?
High Value?

Price: $129.99
Manufacturer: Fizzics
Available from: fizzics.com

NitroBrew for Home

In less than a minute, the NitroBrew system (above, right) energizes beer with nitrogen while reducing carbonation with minimal setup and equipment.

Test lab notes

NitroBrew for Home includes a kettle, charging station, and compressor—it’s compact and portable, can be stored in the kitchen, then put away when it’s not being used. This particular setup is quick to assemble and get up and running, and users don’t have to buy a separate nitrogen tank and draft setup that they normally would with a regular kegarator system to enjoy the nitro effect. The kettle is sturdy yet lightweight and easy to clean, and our staff tried a number of beers and other beverages in it—not every beer is suitable for a nitro mouthfeel, but if you’re planning to use it for other beverages in addition to beer (it makes a wicked nitro cold-brewed coffee), you should be able to justify the price tag.

Scorecard

Easy to Use? X
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment? X
High Value?

Price: $355
Manufacturer: NitroBrew
Available from: nitrobrew.com

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PHOTOS: MATT GRAVES

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