Draftmark: We Tried It, We Liked It

In Product Review by The Guys19 Comments

Draftmark, Anheuser-Busch’s answer to home draft systems rolled out by Miller and Heineken, recently became available in the Chicago market.

According to a press release we received, Draftmark is being called a, “intuitive, high-end device that fits neatly on refrigerator shelves, making a true draught beer experience possible in a few easy steps.”

So does it live up to those expectations?

Well, we had a chance to take the product for a spin, complete with a gallon of Bass Pale Ale, and can report that it is pretty easy to use and it does what it’s supposed to – gives you cold beer from a tap.

Now, before we get to the beer, let’s talk about the Draftmark itself ($49.99 – $59.99). The unit is sturdy enough and isn’t very heavy, which makes for easy fridge maneuvering.

behold, the Draftmark

Its setup is fairly simple with very few moving parts. Once out of the box the first thing you have to do is charge the battery that comes with it (not pictured).

Wait, a battery? Yup. The battery essentially runs the pump in the Draftmark. No CO2 used here, just air. (Edit: It’s worth noting that the air never comes in contact with the beer. At least not until you pour it. Draftmark’s technology is patented and they’re rather tight-lipped on how it works. But trust us, it does.)

Charging only takes a few hours  – which should give you plenty of time to start cooling your gallon of beer.

Once the battery is done charging (indicated by a green light) you simply pop it into the back of the unit and open up the front.

Insert the spout, which comes with your gallon refill, and place the gallon refill into the unit – rotating clockwise to lock it into place.

Close the lid and voila.

Battery charging aside, setup for the Draftmark takes just a few minutes.

And the unit is small enough to fit just about anywhere in the refrigerator.

We chose the top shelf because, at the time, the remaining shelves were occupied by Thanksgiving leftovers.

As you can see there’s still plenty of room to stack around it, if need be.

With the heavy lifting, or lack thereof done – it’s time to pour a beer.

The unit pours a tad heady, making it a two to three-step process of filling a glass, waiting for the head to recede, pouring some more, waiting some more. But that’s no different, really, from ordering a beer on tap at a bar.

Frothy pour aside the beer itself was good, nicely carbonated, although a touch creamy.

IMG_0593[1]Each refill is good for 30 days. But once it’s in, it’s in – you can’t swap out one refill for another one midway through a bottle.

For the frugal drinker, or for those of you into beer math, using a standard 16 ounce pint glass a gallon refill will pour you exactly eight beers. Not bad for $14.99.

Along with Bass the other options currently available include Shocktop Wheat IPA, Shocktop Belgian White, Michelob Amber Bock, Budweiser and Goose Island Honkers Ale. Overall that’s a fairly diverse selection of A-B products, although we’d like to see the number of Goose Island offerings expand. Adding Goose Island’s India Pale Ale, Harvest Ale and/or 312 would seriously boost Draftmark’s street cred in the craft community.

What we really like about this concept is the limited amount of waste. No cardboard boxes, six-pack holders, a dozen or so cans or bottles to throw away. Just one, one gallon jug.

Beer geekery and environmental friendliness aside, Draftmark delivers on the promise of cold, fresh beer from the comfort of your refrigerator.

UPDATE: After spending some time in the closet, Karl broke out the Draftmark and tried it again in June, 2014. It was…okay. 

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Written by many, compiled by one, this is a collaborative post with contributions from at least two writers at Guys Drinking Beer.


  1. john

    I disagree with the a couple of things first off in terms of what you are throwing away. Yes you are only throwing away 1 gallon vs 12 bottles but its not a regular gallon its a very heavy plastic unit with several attached hard plastic parts. When my first one ran out I looked at it and my impression was that when it reaches the sorting center its not going to end up in the recycle pile.

    secondly a 12 pack of beer runs me around $12-$13 at Walmart. This thing ran me $16.00!

    I got my unit for free and I personally DO NOT recommend going out and buying one. Its cool, its overpriced and refills are NOT readily available. I had to drive all the way up to a large liquor dealer and even they only had 3 flavors in stock.

    I’m keeping mine for special occasions but once again its not worth $50

  2. India Woodson

    I can’t find refills in metro Atlata area!!!! I called the Draftmark people, who cant tell me who sell the product in Ga due to Ga law, only to be passed off to the local distributor. Local distributor office didn’t know what I was talking about. But they did say there was some problem with Ga law and the sale of the units. I bought a BAD BAD BAD gift!!

  3. john

    did you check with Tower beer & wine? or with Greens beverages?

    Both are good sized distributors.

    I’ve been hoping for someone to sell them online but no luck. Mine has sat idle for a few months :{

    I saw one sell on ebay for $15 (brand new) probably because they couldn’t find refills either.

  4. kp

    bought my unit in dec of ’12 (atl, ga). been on the phone w/all 3 atl distributors and just now the local ab office. refills are not currently available here, but the sales mgr i talked to told me that eagle rock has ordered more and should be in total wine (if not others) within three weeks. he also said that a new, national marketing push would start at the same time. we’ll see!

  5. Carl

    The beer is great, but, but my Draftmark dispenser died. Opened the refrigerator the next day after tapping my 5th keg and found beer all over the place. What a mess! The electronics that drive the pump apparently got soaked with beer and it no longer fires up to run the pump to dispense the beer.

    Too bad…I liked it, but I don’t want to spend another $50 if that is all the lon ger they last.

  6. eve

    For those I the Atlanta area, you can get refills at Total Wine.

  7. Ken

    AB is basically giving these systems away at this point in time, ($9.99) to get the refills moving from the shelves.
    I live in the Boston area and the refills are pretty easy to come by at $14 for Goose IPA $12 for Bud. I hope it takes off and other craft brewers make refills available.

  8. John Salazar

    Binny’s Beverage Depot who is a huge retailer with tons of stores throughout Illinois is where I used to buy mine. I called them today and they said there are no plans to see this reintroduced in my market. I tend to wonder if they are making a push merely to recoup a few bucks on the thousands of these units they probably have sitting around in some warehouse.

    I liked the system. BUT without the availability of refills AND most importantly CHEAP refills as no-one is going to buy a gallon of beer for $15 when you can get the 12 pack for $12.99. Noone is going to “buy in” to it unless they perceive value and long term availability of more than 1 or 2 flavors.

    I still say its dead, but I may be wrong. (I doubt it though)


  9. Gwendolyn chapman

    Can you buy a growler and put the beer from the growler in one of the empty refill bottles?

  10. Ryan

    Unfortunately you cannot, Gwendolyn. Once the seal is broken on the Draftmark refills they cannot be re-purposed once they are empty.

  11. Len

    Does anyone know where in Chicago suburbs, near Lemont can you get refill bottles?

  12. kp

    fyi, it looks like ab has pulled draftmark out of the atlanta market :-(

  13. kp

    target stores in the atl. area are discontinuing this system (if they have any left).

  14. comanchepilot

    The way I do the math for Goose Island IPA its cheaper than buying it in the store. You get a 6 pack of 12oz for $9 or so. 6 x $1.40 per 12oz is $8.40 – and its draft, not bottled.

    Would I buy Miller and Bud? No, of course not, unless they get the price down to $10 for the 10.66666 12 oz glasses . . .

    Supply in a single source like Target – that can and will discontinue at any time – after spending $50 on a machine – I’m not willing to risk that. Now, if they guarantee me 5 years of beer availability I might consider spending the $50 for the machine . . .

  15. Na

    First off the beer is pasteurized. You can tell, because the refills are not refrigerated. Unpasteurized beer has to be refrigerated. The 128 ounce refills cost $14.00 each. That is equivalent to paying $31.50 for a case of beer (24 beers, 12 ounces each), and that does not include the $50 system. So you are paying for over priced pasteurized marketing hype beer.

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