I was recently given a free Draftmark Tap System from BzzAgent for my evaluation. It didn’t come with any beer in it, but I finally got around to buying a refill bottle of Goose Island Honker’s Ale today. The store I went to had that along with Budweiser and Michelob Amber Bock refills available. Other varieties can also be found such as Shock Top, Shock Top Wheat IPA, and Bass Pale Ale.
The sales clerk at the store commented that not many of the Draftmark systems or refills have been sold. I had to agree with her judging from the dust that was collected on top of each box. That left me wondering about the freshness of the beer, and I could not find a born on date or expiration on the box. All it said was that the beer would stay fresh for 30 days once installed in the system. I would really like it if there were born on dates available that way you know how fresh the beer is.
The Draftmark operates using a rechargeable battery pack and uses air to keep the right pressure for the flow-rate. The pressurizing is a noisy process that you can hear even through the closed refrigerator door, but at least you know it is working. It was a little deep to fit on some of my refrigerator shelves, and I found it worked best on the top shelf of mine.
Pouring the beer should be just as you would do with any draft beer. Start with a tilted glass, pour the beer so it falls a short distance on to the side of glass, and straighten the glass as you pour. Unfortunately I found it impossible to not get at least three fingers of head, most of the time I wound up with even more than that. Using a very bad pour form would result in nearly an entire glass of foam. It does settle quickly, but definitely not the ideal way to pour a beer.
The beer itself was nothing extraordinary, but it goes down easy. Honestly it reminded me a lot of one of my homebrews. Each refill has one gallon of beer in it, or around 8 pints. At around $15, the refills are a great deal considering what the equivalent amount would cost in a bar. I’m curious to see if the beer truly does stay fresh for a month, or could it even go longer, even though I doubt it will last that long anyway.
Overall the Draftmark system is a neat idea. However it doesn’t seem to have caught on with the general public. And I have a couple of issues with the design and functionality. If more styles of beer were available, I could see myself using it, but with the current lineup I don’t think I will be refilling it again anytime soon.