Sweet Black Jesus I Have Unboxed a Heineken BeerTender

If ever I start complaining about what a rough job I have or how it's difficult to maintain a high output in the face of an onslaught of new products and the demands of a public job and dealing with PR pressure and blah blah blah...remind me of today. The day that a disinterested man pulled up his SUV to my front steps and unloaded—just for me—free beer. Now granted, it's Heineken. And I sort of loathe Heineken. (They can brew better! I've had it!) But the point is this: 10 liters of free beer have been delivered to me; lo, to me this beer was delivered free. So since I have to wait for the thing to cool down to actually drink the beer and the manual says that'll take several hours, you get a lovely set of photographs and initial, not-even-drunken commentary. Kippis and l'chaim!
Here's how big the kegs are compared to a 12-ounce bottle of beer. The other keg is Heineken Light. I know—how could it get more light? I guess I'll find out when the first keg is finished.
Here is the top of the device. It is black like you know who and chrome like you know who's messiah robot counterpart. I would call it attractive.
These are the plastic, disposable plugs that snap into the tops of the kegs. The other end is the spout. More on that soon, but basically, all that chrome is an illusion.
Here's the spout assembly open.
And here's the plastic plug laid in. Notice how the whole assembly is basically a ruse to make the disposable plastic bits seem fancy.
At the top, the two sensor readouts that make the BeerTender cost three-hundred dollars: a scale to determine how full the keg is (that has to be how they do it, since the keg doesn't actually hook up to anything and is pre-pressurized) and a temperature readout.
Finally, that attractive badge on the front of the tap? Just a vinyl sticker. (So you can replace it when you replace the beer with another variety besides Heineken, of course.) I'll wait to pass final judgement until I actually use the thing—tomorrow, at least—but I'm almost certain I'll already give it a big, fat negatory on the whole buying thing. I mean, it's a refrigerator for god's sake. I'm getting ahead of myself! Anyway, the point is: I should probably review this on camera and I should probably be very drunk.
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38 Responses to Sweet Black Jesus I Have Unboxed a Heineken BeerTender

  1. Anonymous says:

    I write from Cyrpus ! I have the beertender ..You must wait ti taste the beer..And wait to have a good Barbeque and all your friend comming..All we love this litle toy for boys.

  2. styrofoam says:

    Currently, I believe the Heineken keg is the only one that’ll work in this cooler, as it’s the only one that’s pressurized. Most other brewers (the german selection, a few craft brewers I know of) use Gravity-powered 5L miniKegs. AKA, the pull-out spout and the beer drains into your cup.

    The Heineken keg is unique in that it uses the concept of the Guinness “Nitrogen Widget” and takes it to the next level- a CO2 canister inside the keg to keep the beer from getting oxidized and provide enough pressure to push the beer out the top of the keg, similar to a traditional Keg.

  3. Jamshid666 says:

    #10, if this were mounted on a Roomba, it would be like a beer dalek. INEBRIATE! INEBRIATE! INEBRIATE!

  4. Fnarf says:

    If only all this ingenuity and whiz-bang tech crap design was focused on ways to bring good beer to you. GOOD BEER DOES NOT COME IN PRESSURIZED KEGS.

  5. gdeakin says:

    @21, those 5-liters are incompatible–those are the older gravity fed ones that you would plug a plastic nozzle into then tip upside down. As I recall, if you didn’t drink it by morning, you had something almost as appealing as a warm flat 40. The BeerTender only works with the “DraftKeg” [(R), TM, Patent Pending, etc.].

  6. Joel Johnson says:

    @Ururk: You’re totally right. I peeled it off and it looks much better.

    I checked with the PR contact for the BeerTender. Right now the only compatible kegs for the American market are Heineken and Heineken Light. Oy.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Now you should get Phillips to send you their take on the Beertender: the PerfectDraft. It has nice belgian beers you can insert.

  8. jonathanpeterson says:

    FWIW – I’m not a heineken fan, but I’ve found the beer in the heineken mini-kegs to be WAY above average for available in the US lager.

    But $300? You can buy a retail pony kegerator for under $400 and a full 1/2 keg kegerator for a bit over $500 and get whatever beer you want.



    Someone gave you beer today so you could do your job? Go buy a lottery ticket right now. We’ll wait….

  10. Patrick Austin says:

    $300? Good god.

    5 gallon cornelius kegs: $25
    Mini-fridge large enough for said kegs: $100 or so used.
    C02 cylinder+regulator? $50 maybe?
    Faucet, hoses, couplings: $50
    Pretty plywood to house faucet: $20

    5 gallons of whatever you want to drink on tap (soda, beer, etc)? Maybe not priceless, but better than sucking on a Heiney.

  11. Brasil says:

    So, Joel have you heard of other brauereien selling kegs for this thing? I assume it won’t be exclusive to Heineken, unless they own Krups.

  12. Lonin says:

    I demand a drunken video review.

  13. artbot says:

    This should have a bracket that hangs it right on the urinal for direct deposit.

  14. GoingLikeSixty.com says:

    This is why bloggers are not journalists. A journalist would have to dispose of the gift – and the contents – and not benefit.

  15. cha0tic says:

    Yeah Drunken video review is a must.

  16. Joel Johnson says:

    Other beers are available in Europe, I know, but I’m not sure if there are other varieties in the States. I’ll find out.

  17. Kid says:

    Man, Bklyn!! When can I stop by for some beer?

  18. strider_mt2k says:

    I love beer but this is too way much disposable stuff for my comfort level, and I’m fairly comfortable with disposable stuff.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well, I’m in NL and own one of these. I’m drinking a bockbier as I type this. This thing you have is not the same as the EU version. I don’t know why but you got a different machine. Mine, and I think all EU versions, does not come with pre-pressurised kegs. The kegs are smaller (4 liters as opposed to your 5) and contain a vinyl bag that contains the beer. An airpump pumps in air around that bag to push out the beer. The little tube that is inserter into the faucet is connected to the keg when you buy it and is not detachable.

    I can get about 5 kinds of beer for it, including a wicked belgian beer brewed by monks called Affligem (though seasonal availability). Also Murphy’s and Hoegaarden White are available. In the winter we also get bock beer. Brand and Brand Urtyp, Amstel and Heineken are also available year round.

    I love beer, and love my beertender. I bought it second hand on marktplaats (dutch ebay) for 100 EURO including 2 kegs so not 300$…. granted, mine doesn’t have the sensors and display but who needs that.

    Hope you like the beer anyway :-)

  20. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    GoingLikeSixty.com, I have to imagine that makes their restaurant reviewers extremely unpopular with the other diners.

  21. Agies says:

    #17 Plenty of good beer comes in pressurized kegs… Like just about every draught beer that isn’t in a cask.

  22. RyanH says:

    @ #7
    Disposable stuff? What disposable stuff. The keg gets recycled, the dispenser get used again and again. And Heineken already tastes like it has been through the system once :)

    See, everything gets used.

  23. andyhavens says:

    Shameless plug: my review of the ad for this product… one of the worst tv spots in a long, long time:



    Somebody needs to splice that thing to a hacked Roomba so it can follow you around offering fresh beer, then go find a power outlet to plug into when it gets too warm. I’d buy one of those.

  25. mark says:

    Yeah, I’ve wanted one of these, though I saw another company making a similar product that looked better. The problem is that in NYC I was unable to find a supplier that had actual good beer in these containers. Does anyone know of a distributor of those kegs in the new york area?

  26. Dogfish head says:

    Heinken is an acquired taste to be sure. What would prevent others from creating mini kegs that fit this form factor? Heinken is the blade but Krups is the razor. I see an opportunity here.

  27. styrofoam says:

    As soon as Dogfish Head starts producing 5L blades, I’m a man in serious trouble.

  28. Stitch says:

    I was thinking that it had a proper faucet, and was hoping some way would be figured out to adapt those kegs to homebrewing. It’s one thing to rig up a kegerator in your kitchen (or living room) but quite another to have one that’s all shiny and refined.

  29. dculberson says:

    @Ross: “You.. want some more?”

    I actually had some non-skunky Heineken recently, and it’s really not that bad. For a weaky, drink-a-lot-of-it beer. It’s just that the green bottles let it go skunky so fast!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Avanti has a product that is roughly in the same price range that will handle both the Heineken style (pre carbonated) and the gravity fed style (all the other ones) product page is http://www.avantiproducts.com/index.php?page=products&id=261

  31. Anonymous says:

    other 5-liter keg varieties

    I think it was the second hit on Google. You’re welcome.

  32. mightymouse1584 says:

    one of you better posts. cant wait for the drunken commentary =)

  33. Chris says:


  34. ururk says:

    Finally, that attractive badge on the front of the tap? Just a vinyl sticker. (So you can replace it when you replace the beer with another variety besides Heineken, of course.)

    I’m not too sure if you noticed, but looking at the pictures, it looks like there is a clear window behind that sticker, and when you insert a new disposable plug, the plug graphic shows through. Therefore, if you removed the vinyl sticker now, you could see the plug graphic.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I live in the Netherlands and we’ve had this system for a few years now.

    yes there are several other kegs and Heineken is the worst of the lot, the others are ok, can’t remember the others though.
    There’s also the competitor that one’s callled Perfect Draft developed by Philips, that one is slightly lager, the kegs are also a bit larger and it has different beers for it [better]. Perfect draft has: Hertog Jan [obviously the best], Jupiler, Grolsch, Dommelsch and Bavaria and sometimes a special one] I know it’s a crappy post but I’m a bit drunk so…

    anyway enjoy your Beertender, it’s not that bad it quite good wish I had one…

  36. Fnarf says:

    @19: all good beers come in casks. Cask-conditioned ale is alive; keg beer is dead. It’s a shame American craft brewers have barely begun to grasp this fact, focusing instead on how to market and technologize themselves.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for not logging in. Lines N Things went out and my wife picked one up for 100$ US. Not bad. Heineken is tolerable outta this system. I am curious to see how many makers of “mini-Kegs” will follow and change over if any. There has to be a way for that tap system to adapt. I have had it for a month and ready for a change in beer. Also I am not buying another one for diffnt Beers. Next stop will be a Fridge so I can have a Full Keg.

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