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