Krups BeerTender Bringing Nasty Draught Heineken to U.S. Kitchens

KrupsB65.jpg

Heineken and Krups have announced that they’ll be bringing the “BeerTender,” an at home keg system, for sale in North America. It will first be sold via Williams-Sonoma in March for $400, but in a strange turn it will be more widely available for $300 on April 1st from other retailers. (At least according to the Unofficial BeerTender USA Fan Site.)

My problem with the BeerTender is two-fold: first, Heineken sucks. There are other beer varieties available in Europe (including Affligem, which isn’t bad), but I sort of doubt the U.S. will get the same variety. Secondly, because the BeerTender uses proprietary “DraughtKegs” that are internally pressurized, you can’t fill up kegs yourself with homebrew or craft beer. It’s unlikely that small craft brewers will offer their beers in a compatible form.

I’m all for draft beer at home. In fact, I’m planning on building a kegerator this year. But it pains me to think of how much good American craft beer could be purchased for $300. Even poured from bottles instead of a sleek countertop unit, it’d be better than a cold mug of tasteless Heineken.

P.S. The United States has the richest, most exciting beer culture in the world. (Belgium is grandfathered in for previous accomplishments.) Discuss!

P.P.S. I once had a multi-course dinner at the Amsterdam Heineken brewery (now a museum) in which a different small batch beer brewed by their brewmaster was served with each course. Some knockout beers. I know the average beer drinking buys crap beer, but when I know a brewery can do better it makes me hate their mainstream lagers all the more.

Heineken, Krups to Sell BeerTender in US [Physorg.com]

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44 Responses to Krups BeerTender Bringing Nasty Draught Heineken to U.S. Kitchens

  1. username says:

    I’m with JP. I’ve always had the same problem with domestic breweries — too many IPAs, too many overhopped ales.

  2. HornCologne says:

    Props to Munich, props to Pilsen, props to Belgium (although the lack of beer purity laws there has lead to many a nasty hangover of mine …) …

    But let us not forget Kölsch! Kölsch is the only beer in the world protected by international conventions (like Champagne, for example) as a regional, certified specialty. Kölsch may only be brewed within the city limits of Cologne. We have around 30 types of Kölsch in a city of one million inhabitants (you do the math – we have more breweries per capita than any other city in Germany)! And we are only a small city in a country of 85 million inhabitants in a European Union of 25 countries … I am sure we beat the pants of your “beer culture” … sorry.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There is a beer culture in the States? That’s shocking!!!!

  4. jfwells says:

    Seriously, those deriding US beer culture have never visited the Pacific Northwest. Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world. Not per capita, total. (We do rank top 5 for stip clubs per capita, though) The pub culture is huge and varied in the PNW as well. What else are youg going to do while it is 42 degrees F and raining all winter?

  5. sonny p fontaine says:

    you’ll never go wrong with a Belgian. I can’t tolerate those overhoped westcoast IPA styles. I mean really, why? It’s not like they haven’t gotten refrideration on the west coast.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’ve travelled in America… Compared to some of the beers available in Europe and Australasia (Except Fosters), American beer is like having sex in a canoe… i.e. It’s f**king close to water!

  7. Anonymous says:

    “The United States has the richest, most exciting beer culture in the world.”
    Every European Beer lover that ever had the misfortune the colored ice water Americans call beer is now rolling on the floor laughing. Even Stella Artois tastes better then any US beer I ever tasted.
    The German beer culture (ever heard of Rheinheitsgebot), the Belgium beer culture, not to mention British, Irish, Czech, Danish and Dutch beer culture is at a much higher level then Americans can dream of. The fact that the largest beer brewer hopefully named its beer after a Czech brewery must tell something (The taste is sooooo much different). The average bar in Europe has at least 5 types of beer (not brands, types). The average beer section in a Belgium supermarket is at least 20 yards long with a minimum of 100 brands. Some beer breweries are older then the USA. Most beta students at one point created their own beer. There are shops in every large city where you can buy ingredients and equipment to brew your own beer.
    I agree that in European terms Heineken is just OK. However, the BeerTender also has Brand beer. Try that for a real beer.
    Paul
    (now sipping from his IJ-beer)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Right, it seems like a great system but who wants a so-so beer. Can we have GROLSCH and other options?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m not a big beer drinker, but I have to say that the (half) pint they have pulled in that shot has the worst head on a beer I have seen in a while.

  10. mikeyboy says:

    $400 for a trinket that serves mainstream mediocrity is obviously targeted at the “i want to be slightly more classy than my nascar friends” crowd. if you’ve been enlightened, move along.

  11. dculberson says:

    Heineken is traditionally served in half-pint glasses with two fingers of head. I have the same exact glass as in the photo – they give them out at the old brewery in Amsterdam. It’s a half-pint glass. Head looks just about right for Heineken.

  12. balgoney says:

    The unfortunate part of the beertender hidden deep in their website is the $11 cost for ordering replacement draught tubes RECOMMENDED after every keg…

    seems like a bit of a scam.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Look, as an American, I have to agree with the posts deriding American beers and American ‘beer culture.’ Most American beer is crap anyway, not made with any respect for taste or texture, but made instead with respect to how quickly it can be poured down a human gullet, thereby necessitating repeat sales.

    My family is Eastern European, has been in the US for about 100 years and thinks nothing of allowing the kids a swallow or two of beer or wine at Sunday dinner. There was no big mystique about alcohol in my family; it had its proper place and we were all exposed to it from a young age — thus we all gained an appreciation for well-made beer, wine and liquor.

    And mass-market American beers — for the most part — are crap. Yes, there are some fantastic microbrews out there, but in some places, those micros are few, far between and hard to find.

    US wines are good and getting better, but most US beer is still — so far as I can tell — all about sales figures and watery oat sodas. That’s why I prefer the hard stuff.

    Budweiser’s got nothing on Jack Daniels.

  14. Doomstalk says:

    #13: It really depends on the quality of the hops, and the skill of the brewmaster. Victory Hop Devil (Victory gets my vote for best brewery in America, BTW) is extremely hoppy, but delicious all the same.

  15. Troy says:

    Just an fyi: I don’t know if these kegs will fit the Krups machine (though I don’t see why they wouldn’t), but beergeek.biz has a dozen or so different German beers (including the tasty EKU Pils) available for sale. Also, breworganic.com has 5-liter mini-kegs that can be filled with homebrew, if you’re set up for kegging. If the Krups machine doesn’t work for any of this, there’s several other machines designed for dispensing beer from 5-liter kegs that aren’t quite as swill-oriented.

    As to the USA vs the World beer debate, I say Germany wins for ubiquity, Belgians are the first extreme brewers, I’m envious of the cask ale scene in the UK, and the US has enough of everything to basically satisfy anyone who’s interested in beer. Prost!

  16. mark says:

    I think I like the avanti mini-keg fridge better, both in terms of how it would look in my kitchen and in terms of compatibility.

    http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/kegerators/pony/MBD5L.shtml

    Unfortunately, like this other solution it is not compatible with the beers I drink. My research seems to indicate that Germany and Belgium are the place to shop for these mini-kegs.

  17. Itsumishi says:

    I recently went on a big holiday, spent some time in New York some time in Europe.
    I can’t really comment on who has the best Beer culture because I only spent time in capital cities but I’m a big beer fan. I enjoy tasting as many different beers as possible and especially love trying microbreweries out whenever possible.

    Whilst in New York I found the bottled beer surprisingly good. Mainly because I’d been told by so many people that it was crap. True I avoided the Top 5. List (that crap is available in Australia and it’s no good). I found the ‘Pub’ culture in New York quite lacking. I mean we came across a few good bars, etc. But none of them bars that seemed to pride themselves on good beer.

    When I got to Europe I found all beer in Croatia crappy. Just the standard ‘crisp, clean’ typical of a lot of Europe. Although same thing, didn’t come across any brewed on site places, etc.
    Spain was a bit better but still a bit the same. Although I do like the fact that they serve beers in tiny glasses, so that when you finish it it’s still crisp cold and not flat.

    Germany was disappointing. I’d heard so much good stuff about German beer, then I got to Berlin and I seemed to only find Pilsners and I didn’t really come across much variation in flavour or quality. I’m told that to really experience German beer you have to get out of Berlin. So who knows.

    By the end of my holiday I must say I didn’t find much that truly captivated me and I was longing to get home and drink a nice cold refreshing Coopers Sparkling Ale.

    This is the best mass manufactured beer for a decent price anywhere in the world. (It’s only about $1 more a six pack then the Australian equivalent of Bud)

    http://www.coopers.com.au/beer.php?id=127&pid=1

    Also Australia has a great Microbrewery culture. If anyone is ever in Western Australia make sure you check out the Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle (just outside of Perth).

  18. ryuthrowsstuff says:

    You can’t talk about beer culture in the us and just focus on the craft/micro brew movements. if you actually look at it a HUGH proportion of American beers are all made by the same 3 companies. not only are the top 3 beers uniformly crap but there are hundreds of less popular brands that are essentially just variations of those top three.

    and the small brewers do the same exact thing. when companies like victory and magic hat are making 30 different beers a piece, and the only distinguishing factor is how far each ones take the policy of cramming as much hops and alcohol (at the exclusion of all other flavors) into a beer as possible i don’t call that exciting.

  19. Doomstalk says:

    #16: I don’t think you could be any more wrong. There is an enormous difference between, say, Victory Storm King, Great Lakes Blackout Stout, and North Coast Old Rasputin. And all three of those beers are imperial stouts. By the way, the word is “huge” not “hugh”, which a name.

  20. Doomstalk says:

    #16: By the way, I think it’s disingenuous to complain that America’s most popular beers are crap. The major beers in most countries are. It’s like saying that a city doesn’t have good restaurants because the most numerous ones are Burger King, McDonalds, and Wendy’s. They’re popular because they’re cheap, consistent, and ubiquitous. They bear no relation to the quality you find once you get into the real stuff.

    On a side note: it’s actually rather impressive that the macrobrewers are able to get the consistency they do on such a large scale. It may be crap, but it’s still a technological triumph.

  21. bongolicious says:

    The Avanti mini-keg machine will also dispense non-pressurized kegs like the ones the “Beer of the month” club and other breweries use.

    It costs $200-230.

    That’s the unit to get if one were in the market for such a device.

  22. picklefactory says:

    Anyone who says something like “I went to America and drank Coors/Michelob/Miller/etc and it was crap, therefore our beer is better” might as well have come here only to eat at Wendy’s and McDonald’s and then declare that all food in America is crap.

    There are good American breweries out there. Not all of them brew exclusively gigantic IPAs. I love Belgian-style beers, and I’m increasingly running into more and more of them here.

    There’s the superb Ommegang in NY — they brew my favorite saison, Hennepin. In my book it stands up to plenty of the imported Belgian saisons like Saison Dupont, though the stuff from Brasserie Fantomas was more intriguing, I have to admit.

    Victory also does a great saison, and their Prima Pils is a great flowery pilsener — I could drink it all night.

    Then there’s the wonderful Brooklyn brewery, with their Local One bottle-conditioned golden ale — every bit as good as Duvel in my opinion. They also have a (seasonal) Black Chocolate Stout, which every beerhead I know bought whole cases of. They even have a single-hop draught-only beer I’ve seen in a couple places now. They must have an amazing brewmaster to do so many different styles so damn well.

    You can’t get great beers everywhere, but there are now enough beer lovers in the US demanding the good stuff that it’s generally available if you look. Even at minor-league ballpark I go to they now have Sierra Nevada and Widmer on tap.

  23. BetterLivingThroughScience says:

    Even poured from bottles instead of a sleek countertop unit, it’d be better than a cold mug of tasteless Heineken.

    hey! piss is a taste.

  24. strider_mt2k says:

    Wow, it’s like Beer DRM.

    I’m a Yuengling drinker. Original Lager.

    So shoot me.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      Yuengling OL is actually a pretty decent beer, especially for the price. It’s not lagers I’m against—it’s tasteless ones.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know much about the US beer culture, so it might well be incredibly vibrant, but it will have to go some to beat the UK, and especially Englands real Ale culture. The quality and diversity of the real (i.e. cask conditioned) beer to be found is fantastic, despite the big brewers best efforts to push keg beers.
    Real ale is served cool (not warm, or cold) so it’s flavour can be appreciated, whereas lagers are served as cold as possible, so the taste buds are frozen. As Ale contains live yeast it takes real skill for a pub landlord to store, tap and spile and serve a good pint of real ale. Big chain pubs have managers who prefer the convenience of kegs, which just plug in. For this reason real ale is not promoted in the UK. It would be a shame to see the real english Pint of ale be slowly replaced by medicore keg lagers.
    Sorry for the mild rant!

  26. Fnarf says:

    American “craft brews” are mostly mediocre or worse. And very few of them are alive, in the way that real ale (cask-conditioned) is. America also doesn’t have a very strong tradition of the seriously dedicated pub, that actually cares about keeping its equipment clean and so forth.

    Sure, there are some, but it’s a big country.

    The pub in Norwich mentioned above is not all that unusual in the UK. OK, 86 cask ales is a lot, but a pub like the Ship and Mitre in Liverpool is in that same ballpark. All real ales, too, none of this keg beer nastiness.

    All across the UK there are pubs serving outstanding real ale in a variety of styles that can’t be approached here. Who in the US is brewing mild (a traditional northern style)? It’s always the same old overhopped, overmalted, over-flowery IPA. And the craft beer revolution is in full swing in the UK as well — it’s not all traditional. The difference is, craft ales in Britain are usually real ale as well. There are real ales in America, but it’s just not comparable. It’s a culture there; in America it’s just beer.

    And the traditional public house — more like a living room than a bar — is simply unparalleled. The best examples, with no music, no giant TVs in every corner, no fruit machines, no dipshits shouting and punching each other, are so much better than even the best American bars it’s like being on another planet. Even the more ordinary kind are better than anything you’ll find in the States.

  27. Deadmeat says:

    I applaud any item that can help serve as a transition point to start to appreciate craft brews.

    It’s just a shame that these poor souls will need to endure drinking Heineken to get there.

    Blech!

  28. Luc says:

    #30: ‘I’m not a big beer drinker, but I have to say that the (half) pint they have pulled in that shot has the worst head on a beer I have seen in a while.’

    It depends on the country. It looks like a normal head for a pint (33cl) to me here in Belgium. Not that I have ever even seen someone drink a Heineken here, he he.

  29. dculberson says:

    I would wager that every single person dissing the US beer culture hasn’t actually experienced it. Yes, the top beers are crap, but that’s the same in pretty much every country. Doomstalk hit the nail on the head with the restaurant comparison: there might be 100 crappy fast food restaurants in a town, 25 good eateries, and 10 world-class incredible places. Does that mean the town has no food culture? No.

    I live in Columbus, OH and can’t count on one hand the number of places that brew and serve real ale. (meaning more – not less – than five) There are dedicated, amazing brew masters that craft great beer and serve it on-site and in growlers you can take home.

    Something to chew on: The US population is 303 million. Germany, the largest European country, is 82 million. Even if far fewer people as a portion of the population are enthusiastic about real beer, you still end up with an enormous culture, capable of some great beers.

    None of my frequent haunts serves more than 2-3 heavily hopped beers. The Russian IPA’s I can get are amazing, better than anything I’ve found in a bottle.

    I’m not saying the US beer is the best – I can’t know that any more than any of you can. But it is amazing, far better than it used to be, and better than most people give it credit for.

    p.s. Heineken, even in Amsterdam, is at best OK. It’s a little better than drinking water. It’s a lot better than Bud Light. But it’s not good beer.

  30. Joel Johnson says:

    Fnarf, you need to try more American beers! In different American bars! Plenty of American craft brewers do milds (among other, non-IPA styles); plenty of American bars don’t have televisions.

    As for the cask vs. keg debate, I’ll leave that one up to taste. I enjoy some cask beers, but I actually find the lesser carbonation sometimes offputting. That said, probably every single cask beer I’ve ever had in the U.S. was a one-off from a craft brewer, so it’s reasonable to expect they don’t have the knack.

    It’s really interesting to get the perspective of others about the American beer scene, but I stand by my knowingly cheeky observation: There’s just more interesting things going on in American brewing than anywhere else. And that’s even if you discount the “big beers” like the mega-nukey-hopped IPAs.

    But the great thing about beer is that if I’m proven wrong by sample great beers from another country I still win.

  31. brandau says:

    “USA: most exciting beer culture in the world”

    i would vote for germany. Smaller but nearly as many breweries as in the USA (1.300 to 1.500 if wikipedia is correct). And the beer is delicious!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Snobs!
    Just drink your beer and Shut-up!

  33. jonathanpeterson says:

    Oh come on, Heiny isn’t THAT bad, but $300? That would pay for a kegerator kit (http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/kits/skk.shtml) and a couple kegs of GOOD beer.

    Belgium > than US unless you measure excitement in IBUs.

  34. mralistair says:

    USA may have a thriving range of micro and ‘craft’ brews but has to have by far the worst mainstream beers on the planet.

    the biggest selling beers in the US:
    1. Bud Light
    2. Budweiser
    3. Miller Lite
    4. Coors Light
    5. Corona Extra

    It might well be that US heineken is brewed in the states to fit in with ‘us tastes’ in the UK it’s not the best by far but it’s passable..

    nothing compared to the mighty bittburger of course

  35. techcommdood says:

    What a disturbing product. As if the keg can and the mini keg weren’t lame enough, now they have a dispenser. I’m surprised that Krups would stoop so low. ;)

    The US doesn’t have the richest beer culture in the world, but definitely the most exciting. The craft brew revival is going strong, and I’m not complaining one bit!

  36. Quasilaur says:

    When we were recently in Ireland, we found that the beer culture there was just starting to perk up, though good pubs with varieties outside of the standard Guinness, Caffreys, Smithwicks, Heinekens were few and far between. My favorite beer was local to Galway, and called Galway Hooker – we were told that they were inspired/worked with/communicated with Sierra Nevada peeps for their hoppy yummy brew. Then there was the Porterhouse Brewpub in Dublin, which also had some tasty beers, my favorite being the high ABV An Brain Blasta. (lapses into tastey memories)

    And to #4 – Germany has interesting beer culture if only because working within the constraints of the Reinheitsgebot levels the playing field for a tasty challenge. Belgium does not have such restrictions, and hence has tasty, crazy concoctions with their beers.

    But this is not the point of this comment! When we were in Dublin, we went to the Guinness Storehouse where we got to taste some of their more limited beers, including the Guinness Special Export, which sadly can’t be gotten in the US, but is delightfully more intense in flavor (and ABV) than the standard stuff we get here.

  37. Anonymous says:

    “P.S. The United States has the richest, most exciting beer culture in the world.”

    That must be a joke. Seriously I don’t think I have been to a nation in Europe, that has “lesser Beer” culture then the USA!

    The US puts out the Majority of the worlds shit beer! Your complaining about Heineken when you are from the nation that gives us such steller brews as Bud Light, MGD and Budweizer (The USA version)?

    Canada’s micro brew culture is a LOT more extensive then the USA!

    I have been to a pub in Norwich England called the Fat Cat, it had 86 different kind of Cask beers, in real wooden casks. Plus around 7 Cask ciders.

    In fact, the amount (or lack there of) of pubs in the USA per capita alone leads me to believe that most county’s in england have a more diverse beer culture then the entire United States of America.

    I’d say that about 25% of Englands pubs pre-date the Declaration of independence.

  38. Anonymous says:

    “Canada’s micro brew culture is a LOT more extensive then the USA!”

    HA!

    I spent the summer in BC and AB, and the beer available wouldn’t hold a candle to the beer available in Portland or Seattle.

    Canada – Good weed, shitty beer.

  39. Qozmiq says:

    I must take issue with the US being the richest and most exciting beer culture in the world, and cannot fathom why only Belgium is grandfathered in. I have been living in Munich off and on for a few years, and let me tell you that this is mecca for beer. The most popular brew in Bavaria(greater Mecca) is Augustiner. It outsells the next best seller two to one. It has been brewed for well over 600 years. And on top of this, they have NEVER advertised. America, I admit, is the king of tasteless, heartless, “I am only drinking it to get drunk” beer. Look at the top 5 most popular beers in the US. All Crap. Some of the craft brews in the States are good. Some of them make me choke. Its seems like a contest to see how much flavor can be crammed into twelve ounces.

    In Germany, nary a business deal is agreed upon unless beer is present. Politicians are often seen holding a tall glass of beer…in political ads! This year, over 7 million people attended Oktoberfest, truly the beer Olympics. They have lower per capita rate of alcoholism, drunk driving deaths, etc. Germany has no equal regarding beer culture, taste, and history.

  40. Halloween Jack says:

    A few points:

    1) Every country in the world has crap lagers, and they’re the most popular because they’re cheap.

    2) If your definition of a beer culture begins and ends with real ale, then, well, duh.

    3. Joel included homebrew in his original post, and there’s definitely a strong homebrew scene in the US. This gadget would be a big hit among the homebrewers if it had been made to accomodate them; Krups should give serious thought to redesigning it for that purpose.

  41. adamn says:

    As a Canadian, I feel it to be my patriotic duty to express my outright disgust at the thought that the USA has the richest brewing culture in the world.

    poo-poo.

    I will, however nominate Southern Ontario as having one of the richest brewing cultures in the world (and, I’m an Albertan). There are some really, really fantastic ales being made there, even with the evil, foreign controlled legislated-monopoly that is “the beer store”

    The upside of having liquor so tightly regulated by the crown, is that craft brewers have a RIGHT to be in the marketplace, beyond sales volumes, and profit margains. This means that a lot of really good beers make it to market, which wouldn’t be sold someplace with private liquor (like say, Alberta).

  42. michaelportent says:

    The BeerTender looks pretty rad, Heineken aside.

    As far as the microbrew scene goes, where I’m at in the Pacific Northwest is becoming a nice hub of sorts. Mac and Jack’s, Deschutes, Pike Brewing Co. – all exceptional beers.

  43. Moon says:

    BEER fanboys?

    That’s worse than being wine fanboys.
    :P

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