The PerfectDraft machine from Philips and AB-InBev lets you serve up that quality draft beer in the comfort of your own home. But is it the best option and what are the pros and cons of a machine that seems like it has been sent down from the gods! Let's face it. Any beer drinker loves their pub pints and to have that quality literally on tap whenever you please seems on the face of it like there can be no downside. But is that the case?
I've been using my PerfectDraft now for almost a year and have tried 25 out of the 46 (at time of writing) kegs on offer. I started vlogging about the machine and the kegs pretty much from the start and due to the slightly increased popularity of these videos compared to my videos on things like a wallpaper scraper, I've recorded more videos on the PerfectDraft and it's Kegs than anything else. I've also backed this vlog up with an area on my website dedicated to the PerfectDraft as well as started blog posts about the little black beauty as well. Needless to say, I've enjoyed my PerfectDraft
ride up to this point.
So what are the pros and cons of the home draft beer machine?
To start with the build of the machine is quality. Philips haven't gone for cheap thin plastic anywhere and the silver-plated strip down the front of the machine and on the tap feels good. It feels solid and doesn't feel like you're going to go all Michael Cane and "Blow the Bl**dy doors off" when you fling them open to change a keg.
It runs pretty quiet as well. Yes there is a hum because it's basically a little fridge keeping your keg cool, but that's fair enough. You can't expect the machine to do what it does without any noise what-so-ever. I've got a Subcold fridge
in the same room and when that kicks in, you can hear that ten-fold over the PerfectDraft
. So if you are placing the machine in your living room (lucky you!) then you won't find it too distracting. In your kitchen, then no issues at all.
The Variety of kegs on offer is top class and looking around at alternatives you would be hard stretched to find anything that offers more. Yes there is no cider on the PerfectDraft, but I would argue that cider isn't that much different out of a bottle or can anyway unlike beer.
There is the Klarstein beer tap dispenser that takes the 5L kegs you find in supermarkets that may well be able to boast a greater selection. But that would be about it.
Keg availability, the process of buying them and returning them could be a pain. And a bit like how a games console is only as good as its games, the PerfectDraft could fail if the kegs are not easy to get hold of. Well, in steps BeerHawk. This is most likely the place you purchased your PerfectDraft from and is most likely where you will get your kegs from. Yes there are alternatives and sometimes you might find the kegs slightly cheaper from somewhere like Bier Wein
, but in general BeerHawk are where you would go. Admittedly I haven't had any issues with my machine, but I can honestly say the service I've received from BeerHawk has been top notch. The website is straightforward, parting with your hard earned cash only takes a matter of minutes and deliver for me has been prompt (although that will be down to how good your local Yodel chap is!).
Returning the kegs is also a walk in the park. Simply slap your QRCodes on the kegs and send them back via Yodal or Collect+ in the box they came in. So just make sure your kids haven't made a giant robot out of your BeerHawk box and you're good.
The Kegs are kept nice and cool at 3 degrees and as long as the ambient temperature is not too much, then this will remain stable throughout the 3 days of your kegs life. I didn't miss the zero off there, your keg will actually last 30 days... but I doubt many will see it past day 3.
The tap connector is really the innovative part of the machine combined with the very simple dispensing tube you get with each new keg. That allows for easy connection to the keg and if you want a few kegs on the go and you have somewhere to store them, simply decouple the connector and bung it on another keg. You just need to keep track of when you first opened your kegs.
Last and most importantly is the quality of the beer. So far from the 25 kegs I have had, I haven't enjoyed three! And even with those three kegs, they grew on me over time. The draft beer isn't as carbonated as cans, so don't expect that, neither is draft beer in the pub. The beer is proper draft quality. The beer that goes into these kegs is the same as what goes into kegs for the pub... yes... there is a difference. It's a pleasure and really gives you that pub beer at home. It also helps save space in the fridge for food rather than beer cans and bottles.
If you've skipped to this section because you want to know what is bad about the machine, then you really should read the pros first. In my opinion, they far outweigh the cons.
Until just recently this wouldn't have made it into a cons list. But now there is a Stout on the PerfectDraft in the shape of Dark Arts from Magic Rock Brewery, the PerfectDraft really could do with a variable temperature control. Yes there are hacks on YouTube. But I don't want to go risking my machine. That Stout really could do with being 5-7 degrees. It's still amazing at 3, but it could make it better. Also many of the IPA's could be a degree or so warmer, so that would be good for them also.
BeerHawk do a fantastic job, I can't argue with that. But it would be amazing if the kegs were more freely available. They can be found in some local newsagents and even on Amazon. But they still come from BeerHawk. Just think going into Tesco's or Aldi and picking up a PerfectDraft keg... now that would be something else.
There is no doubting you will drink more. You have a draft beer machine to hand, there's only one way that is going. So that does affect your wallet and it does affect your waste-line. If you're like me, you like to have snackage with your beer... that only adds to the problem. So it is wise if you are in this for the long haul, to set yourself some limits and stick to them. You wouldn't go to the pub every night if it was just over the road... would you? Or would you?
So, is the PerfectDraft
machine the best home beer draft dispenser for you? And what is the competition.
The two most obvious competitors are the Krups Sub and the Blade. These two machines are the other ends of the spectrum to each other in the sense of beer capacity, beer range and cost. And I would say the PerfectDraft sits in the middle of these two machines.
Krups Sub looks and feels a far cheaper machine and it is. It is however a great introduction into the home draft beer market and if you are just going to sink a few pints a week, then this could be the one for you. There's some quality beer on this machine. The torps that the Sub takes hold 2 Litres which is basically 3 and half pints and when you consider they cost between £8 and £20 that can be quite costly. But it's convenient, a nice looking little machine and would probably fit into your kitchen a lot nicer.
on the other hand is a beast. But a nice-looking beast to be fair.
This holds 8 Liter kegs, which is basically 14 pints and the machine is far bigger than the PerfectDraft. The range of beers on the Blade is more limited, but this is expanding all the time and at a cost of around £35 a keg, this can actually work out more cost effective in the long run. The machine wouldn't look out of place in a pub, in fact I've seen them in pubs, but that is reflected in your initial outlay, which at the time of writing see's them on offer at £425, a cool £200 more than the PerfectDraft
. Due to the size of the machine and therefore the fridge within it, they do cool the keg quicker meaning you're not waiting quite so long. On the other hand, you might be able to afford a Subcold fridge
for your PerfectDraft to store your kegs at temperature for the saving you would make. While the range of beers is more limited, there is a few ciders on the Blade, which may swau some people towards this machine.
The Klarstein I spoke of earlier is another alternative and being able to take kegs you can buy from the supermarket is a big plus. But apparently, they are quite fiddly and you have to play about with pipes and the CO2 gas cartridges. Maybe not that hard, but not convenient for this slightly lazy bald bloke.
Then there are some machines that have made brewing your own beer at home a lot more convenient and straightforward.
The Pinter has been a great new introduction and their self described "Fresh Brewing" is very simple. I managed a cracking brew on my first attempt, and it tasted great, although I'm not 100% it was the ABV advertised on the pack. The fresh press packs are a great idea, so those who have got an eye on sustainability and doing their bit for the environment, this could well be the way you want to go.
You do have to wait though. It's several days for brewing and several days for conditioning, so you need to plan if you want that beer or cider ready for an occasion. Cost wise, there's no faulting it, with the press packs coming in at £12-£15 that will make you up a good 10 pints. This is one to watch as they refine their offering and bring out more beers.
Finally there is the miniBrew
. Again a home-brew machine, but this time on a totally different scale. This is an expensive machine but looks fantastic. You have to do more work than the Pinter for the brewing initially, but then everything is controlled by the mobile app. It records everything so you can reproduce that same tasting brew again again once you've nailed it.
In all honesty, this is probably one for the actual beer brewers that own a brewery and want to refine a new type of beer their working before scaling it up for mass brewing. If you are really wanting to get proper involved in home brewing but want a bit less mess and have a fair wad of cash laying about though, this could be for you.
For me the PerfectDraft
hits the absolute spot in terms of cost, capacity and convenience. The quality of the machine is top notch and the selection of beers available is great.
If you're a lager drinker you can't go far wrong with Spaten
and when it is Oktoberfest time, you are treated with the
Oktoberfest Spaten and
Lowenbrau kegs. If you like IPA's then
Drunken Sailor from Crew Republic and
Goose IPA are absolute belters on this machine. Then for Weiss beer Franziskana
takes a lot of beating. For the stronger Belgium beers you are also well covered with the huge range of Leffe drinks available as well as Tripel Karmeliet and Kwak, you can't go wrong... just be careful!
The only question would be if Philips are going to bring out a new machine soon with a variable temperature control and new design. I've had a scowl around and can't see anything pointing to a new PerfectDraft machine for 2021, but you just never know. One thing is for sure, they won't be changing the kegs so you will be safe owning the current model.
Out of 10?
Buy on BeerHawk
PerfectDraft 2021, Philips, Draft beer at home