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We tested 8 beer dispensers to pour the perfect pint at home

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BUYING one of the best beer dispensers can really elevate your hosting game. I mean, who would rather be holding a can than cold, freshly-pulled pint, right?!

And these days, you’re spoilt for choice, with lots of makes and models around to choose from.

That’s why we’ve decided to get hands-on with the most popular beer dispensers around and test them out so you can work out which one is best for you.

So if you’re buying for yourself or are looking for a fantastic gift, check out our guide of the best beer machines below.

Best beer dispensers: At a glance

Krups The Sub Compact Beer Machine

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The Sub CompactCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
  • Krups The Sub Compact, £125 from BeerWulf – buy here

Pros

  • Unique design
  • Small enough to use day-to-day
  • Cheap per pint
  • Great starter machine

Cons

  • Confusing setup
  • Not a high-quality feel
  • Difficult to pour

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We thought The Sub looked very cool – it’s a bit different to other machines as the keg that goes inside is laid on its side rather than upright, which gives this device its cylindrical “submarine” design.

The instructions were the most confusing of the ones we tested though, as some of the diagrams were a bit difficult to understand.

Even then it only took five minutes or so to get set up.

The kegs for this machine are 2 litres – which is around 3.5 pints – so you don’t need to be throwing a huge party to justify firing it up.

However, the machine didn’t feel as high quality to use – the beer tap felt quite flimsy and the drip tray was quite cheap looking.

It was also quite difficult to pour a decent beer from this one, with a lot of froth in the finished pint. We figured out the trick is to let the first few drops of beer run into the mat, before catching the rest in your pint glass.

It’s worth bearing in mind that cooling the keg takes 6-10 hours.

The kegs cost between £8 and £17 from BeerWulf. A £9.89 keg of Amstel for example works out at around £2.83 a pint, and a £11.59 sub of Birra Moretti works out as £3.31 per pint.

If you’re not sure if you want to invest in a more expensive machine just yet, we think this would be a good starter home draught machine. 

Want to know more? Read on at Beerwulf The Sub review

  • Ease of set up 3/5
  • Price 4/5
  • Ease of use 4/5
  • Beer 2/5
  • Overall 3/5
  • Total score: 16/25

Price: £125, Cost per pint: £2.71, Size: 45 x 33.5 x 23.5cm, Weight: 6.8kg, Capacity: 2 litres

Perfectdraft Pro Machine

PerfectDraft Pro starter bundle

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PerfectDraft Pro starter bundleCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
  • PerfectDraft Pro starter bundle, from £329 at PerfectDraft – buy here

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Eco-friendly option
  • Cheap per pint
  • Money off your next keg when you return it
  • Fresh beer for 30 days
  • Perfect at-home pint

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Large capacity
  • Very heavy

The PerfectDraft Pro machine was incredibly easy to set up – it was all done in a few minutes – although cooling the keg takes around 10 hours so this is one to prepare in advance. We recommend sticking it in the fridge (or a cool garage) ahead of time to speed up the process, if you have space.

The machine was heavy, and we couldn’t lift the box on our own. It’s quite plain looking but we liked that you could customise the beer pump with a selection of badges.

We also liked the easy-to-read temperature display on the front and the indicator that tells you how full your keg is.

And there’s an eco-friendly feature – you can return your keg when it’s finished and you’ll get £5 off your next order.

The first beer poured out a bit “lively” as they say in the industry, but after that, it came out very easily and made us look like a professional.

You’ve got 30 days to drink your beer once the keg is open. Replacements cost from around £30 to £40 depending on which beer you choose.

They are all six litres, giving you just over 10 pints. A £32.50 keg of Stella Artois for example would work out at around £3.25 per pint.

This is the priciest pint of the machines we tested – but it was the best home draft beer. Overall, this was our winner. It poured really nicely and was like a pint that you’d get in the pub, plus we liked the display features.

If you’re a real beer lover, someone with a home bar or dedicated man cave (or just a really big kitchen) then this would be a nice luxury to treat yourself.

We previously weren’t sure we’d invest in one due to space issues, however, since we’ve moved house, it’s now a gadget that is very much on the wishlist.

Read our full PerfectDraft Pro review here.

  • Ease of set up 5/5
  • Price 3/5
  • Ease of use 5/5
  • Beer taste 4/5
  • Overall 4/5
  • Total score: 21/25

Price: £329, Cost per pint: £3.25, Size: 44.5 x 29.4 x 40cm, Weight: 8.3kg, Capacity: 6 litres

Blade countertop draught system

Blade draft machine

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Blade draft machineCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
  • Blade draft machine, from £499 at Beerwulf – buy here

Pros

  • Cheap per pint
  • Decent capacity

Cons

  • Design isn’t for everyone
  • Long cooling time
  • Very heavy
  • Too pricey for most

We initially thought this machine was the ugliest of the bunch, but our partner insisted the temperature gauges, high-quality drip tray and the fact you can see the keg were all very appealing.

They loved the strong “man cave vibes” but, frankly, we were more concerned about how heavy it was to lug around.

The set-up was a bit more involved than some of the others, but it was in place within 10 minutes.

It does, however, require 24 hours of cooling, so if you were having mates over, you would need to prepare this the day before.

We’ve seen these used in bars and pubs, so we had high expectations for the pour, and it didn’t disappoint – it’s a very professional beer that comes out of the pump, chilled to a refreshing 2 degrees.

Once you open the keg, you have 30 days to consume – but you’ll have to keep the machine plugged in.

Replacement kegs are around £35 each, although this varies depending on which beer or cider you choose.

The kegs are 8 litres each, which is 14 pints (a pint is 568ml), putting the cost at around £2.50 a pint.

Overall the machine scored high on flavour but lost points overall because the price point was beyond many people’s reach.

It was also harder to set up because of its weight and had the longest cooling time of the bunch.

  • Ease of set up 3/5
  • Price 2/5
  • Ease of use 4/5
  • Beer taste 5/5
  • Overall 4/5
  • Total score: 18/25

Price: £499 (starter pack includes two 8litre kegs) Cost per pint: £2.50 Size: 59 x 47 x 29cm Weight: 17.6kg Capacity: 8 litres

Philips PerfectDraft

Philips PerfectDraft

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Philips PerfectDraftCredit: Philips
  • Philips PerfectDraft starter bundle, from £229 at PerfectDraft – buy here

Pros

  • One of the sleekest designs reviewed
  • Decent capacity for large events
  • Long shelflife

Cons

  • Coult have a larger capacity for the price
  • Heavy design
  • Takes up a lot of space

The standard PerfectDraft machine looks stylish, complete with a black and silver chrome design.

It’s relatively quiet and pours a perfect pint.

Its six-litre capacity means that it’s perfect if you’re having a party or small gathering, making you the new favourite host with the most.

Plus, you can get your hands on kegs from Corona, Jupiler, Leffes, Stella Artois, Thornbridge and more with your machine as part of a starter bundle.

The machine will keep your beer fresh for 30 days after your first pour, so there’s plenty of time to work through a keg if you’re going at it alone.

Read our PerfectDraft beer dispenser review here.

  • Ease of set up 5/5
  • Price 4/5
  • Ease of use 5/5
  • Beer taste 4/5
  • Overall 4/5
  • Total score: 22/25

Price: £229 Cost per pint: £3.25 Size: ‎44.4 x 26.1 x 49.4 cm Weight: 8.2 kg Capacity: 6 litres


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Guinness Nitrosurge

Guinness Nitrosurge

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Guinness NitrosurgeCredit: NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD.
  • Guinness Nitrosurge, £29.69 at Amazon – buy here

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use
  • As good as a pub pour

Cons:

  • Requires more expensive Nitrosurge cans

When we tested the Guinness Nitrosurge we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to use.

There’s still a bit of the theatre you get with Guinness at the pub as you have to wait for a bit of settling time to get the perfect pour.

And the end result was excellent; a pour that was a bit ‘lively’ but that definitely passed the flavour test like a pub-poured draft beer.

The downside was that the device costs £30 and the cans are a little more expensive than the regular cans of Guinness you can buy at the shop.

  • Ease of set up: 5/5
  • Price: 3/5
  • Ease of use: 4/5
  • Beer 5/5
  • Overall: 3/5
  • Total score: 20/25

Price: £30 Cost per pint: £2.06 Capacity: One Can

Pinter at-home beer dispenser

John Lewis has paid for this item's inclusion in this article

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John Lewis has paid for this item’s inclusion in this article
  • Pinter beer brewer/dispenser, from £99 at John Lewis – buy here

Pros

  • Can brew your own
  • Excellent price
  • Stylish design
  • Fun to use

Cons

  • Could have a larger capacity for its size
  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Pricey per pint

If you like the idea of making your own draught beer at home, it could be worth giving the Pinter a go.

We’ve spent a couple of weeks brewing up a few gallons of ale and reckon it’s a great gift for any beer connoisseurs in your life.

Whatever you’re brewing, it will take between four and eight days, but the process is very clearly explained and instructions are super easy to follow.

It’s quite a fun activity if you’re finding yourself stuck indoors at the weekend, and we felt like we earned a couple of pints after crafting them ourselves.

Additional home brewing kits cost start from £17.99 and are letterbox sized so they’re easily delivered.

You can choose from flavours that range from dark, roasty stouts, to light and hazy tropical pales.

Since we tested it, the Pinter has upgraded to a new Active Pour Tap which ‘serves quality pints, just like in the pub’.

  • Ease of set up 5/5
  • Price 5/5
  • Ease of use 5/5
  • Beer taste 4/5
  • Overall 4/5
  • Total score: 23/25

Price: £99, Cost per pint: the price of your can/bottle, Size: 35.4 x 23.4 x 24.3cm, Weight: 2.65kg, Capacity: 10 pints

Fizzics DraftPour beer dispenser

Fizzics DraftPour beer dispenser

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Fizzics DraftPour beer dispenserCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
  • Fizzics DraftPour beer dispenser, from £139 at Menkind – buy here

Pros

  • Takes up no space at all
  • Easy setup
  • Compatible with various kegs

Cons

  • Pricey for what it is
  • Small capacity
  • Doesn’t have a cooling function

Coming in at around the same size as a coffee machine, the Fizzics device took less than a minute to get set up and didn’t take over our entire kitchen worktop.

You have two options for power, which is handy – it can be plugged into the mains or work off 2AA batteries.

So not only is this the only machine we tested that’s portable, but it’s also the only one that doesn’t require you to buy a specific keg.

Instead, you simply insert the bottle or can of beer you want to drink and it is dispensed through the machine.

That made it super easy to use, but it felt a bit pointless. Fizzics says it uses sonic wave technology so you get a draft taste from any can or bottle of beer.

It claims to enhance the aroma and give you a smooth mouthfeel. But we tasted the same beer straight from the can and it didn’t taste noticeably different.

Still, it’s the only one you can use straight from the box as the machine doesn’t need time to cool your beer – you’ll just have to make sure the fridge is stocked in advance.

  • Ease of set up 5/5
  • Price 4/5
  • Ease of use 5/5
  • Beer taste 3/5
  • Overall 2/5
  • Total score: 19/25

Price: £139, Cost per pint: the price of your can/bottle, Size: 26 x 15 x 43cm, Weight: 1.9kg, Capacity: one can/bottle

How do draught beer dispensers work?

How a beer dispenser works obviously depends on the design and model of your machine but it’ll involve pressure in some way to force the beer out.

The PerfectDraft and The Sub machines have an internal pump for example that pumps out the beer from your keg so it doesn’t need any CO2 capsules.

Both of these need to be plugged into mains electricity to operate.

Where to buy a beer dispenser

These days, plenty of retailers are selling beer dispensers. Amazon usually has most of the popular makes and models in stock (but not always), but you get the best range of products at specialist websites.

How much do beer dispensers in the UK cost?

Of the models we’ve tested, the price ranges from £30 to £499.

If you’re looking for something to add an extra kick to cans, such as the Nitrosurge and the Fizzics machine, that’ll set you back under £50.

But, if you want a machine that pours full pints from a keg, you can expect to pay a bit more.

How to clean a beer dispenser

How to best clean a beer dispenser depends on the make and model you have.

The Sub, for instance, requires very little cleaning; just mopping up a bit of condensation that forms in the barrel.

Other models may require you to flush out any pipes – make sure you check the instruction manual that comes with your machine for advice.

How much do beer dispensers cost?

The prices of beer dispensers tend to vary with their size.

The relatively small Sub is usually available for under £200 but can only handle two-litre kegs.

The larger PerfectDraft or BLADE systems are more expensive, reflecting the larger six and eight-litre kegs they dispense, respectively.

How to set up a beer pump at home

Unlike setting up a full-blown pump that you’d get in a pub with gas cylinders and miles of piping, setting up one of these pumps at home is a doddle.

Most of the devices are plug-in-and-play, i.e. they don’t require anything other than a beer keg and a plug socket.

It’ll take a while to get your canisters to the correct pressure and to cool your beer, but the process doesn’t require a lot of input from you.

What is the best home beer dispenser?

Our favourite of the options above is The Sub. It’s relatively cheap and it pours great pints.

The only downside is that the two-litre kegs make it a bit more difficult to share, which we guess isn’t too much of a problem!

We’ve seen nothing but good reviews for the people who have plumped for the PerfectDraft and the BLADE dispensers, though.

Where can I buy kegs for beer dispensers?

The most important part of getting a beer dispenser is the beer! But kegs can’t be bought from just anywhere, sadly.

Fear not, there are plenty of affordable, budget-friendly options to choose from online, including your favourite – or next favourite – beer.

PerfectDraft has a great selection of kegs, starting from around £30, and offers Tiny Rebel lager, Goose Island IPA, Corona, Leffe, Beck’s and Budweiser.

Amazon also does a selection of kegs, ranging from your standard lagers to your crafty numbers.


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