Friday, May 16, 2008

Mini kegs, good and bad

I've been thinking about getting one of those 5-liter Heineken DraughtKegs for the house, but I don't drink a lot of beer at home, preferring instead to visit our local bars or brewpubs. At home, with three young children, I don't need beer. I need a sense of humor and straight liquor. But I've seen those Heineken mini kegs in local package stores and grocers for $18.49-$20.34, so I've been wondering if they would be worthwhile.

After a little research, it looks like the value of the Heineken DraughtKeg seems to be its longevity, and its price-per-pint.

An internal compressor, using carbon dioxide, keeps the beer from coming in contact with air, which allows the beer to stay fresh for at least 30 days, according to the gadget squad at Popular Mechanics.

In other words, it probably wouldn't go to waste.

But how much would I get out of a 5-liter Heiney?

By way of comparison, a regular keg has 15.5 gallons. A pony keg has 7.75 gallons. The Heiney DraughtKeg has about 1.3 gallons, which amounts to 166.4 ounces, or about 10.4 pints.

Let's say you purchase the Heiney DraughtKeg, considering taxes and price variations, for $21. That works out to about $2.02 per pint.

Worth it? That's up to you. But I think if it's sitting in my fridge for 30 days and still tasting good, I might give it a try.

However - important note - Heineken is unique in its use of carbon dioxide for its 5-liter size.

If you buy a Warsteiner, Beck's, Paulaner, or any of the other mini kegs available on the Grand Strand, you'll probably want to drink it within a few hours. These mini kegs rely on gravity, with a little twist-and-turn spigot on the bottom. When the pouring slows down, it's time to release a little pressure from a valve on the top.

All that is to say, the 5-liter mini kegs that don't use carbon dioxide for pressure will allow air to come in contact with the beer. So make sure it's party time when you open most 5-liter mini kegs. The price spread is about $16.50-$21 for most brands.

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