Hands-on with the Tap King: is this the king of beer at home?

Beer. At home. From a keg in your fridge. For less than a hundred bucks. Could this be the dream of every ale lover?

I have a confession to make: I’ve never liked beer. I like cider, but not beer. In fact, up until this test, I didn’t like beer.

It might seem strange that a person who didn’t like beer should be reviewing the Tap King, a beer keg with replaceable beer canisters, but I found myself liking beer the more I pulled the beer from the keg, let it sit in the glass, and then let the foamy liquid make its way through my lips.

But was this because of Tap King is a genuinely good product, or because I was changing as a person, that my tastebuds were becoming more mature?

From the experience of the past few days, I suspect it was the latter, and based on what people around the office are telling me from their experiences, and based on my own newbie “hello, yes, I’m new to this whole beer drinking” thing, I can safely say that no, the Tap King isn’t fantastic.

Let me explain.

Over the past few weeks, Lion – the owners of Tooheys, Hahn, James Boag, and James Squire – have been advertising a product that allows you to store a micro keg in your fridge and pull a beer with ease.

It’s called the “Tap King,” and was built by Australian packaging company Visy after what Lion says was “two years of extensive research and refinement,” resulting in a product that is essentially the Nespresso of beer appliances.

We’re not kidding, either.

The Tap King is a plastic micro keg tap head that uses a latch system to connect to 3.2 litre bottles of beer.

There are six varieties of beer you can buy at this point, all of them owned by Lion, with XXXX Gold, James Boag’s Premium Lager, Tooheys New, Tooheys Extra Dry, Hahn SuperDry Premium Low Carb, and James Squire Golden Ale.

We were curious if cider was coming to the Tap King system, but haven’t heard back from Lion’s people yet.

Once you’ve selected your beverage, you take the bottle, pull the lid off to reveal the connections underneath, align the arrow on the back of the bottle with the arrow on the back of the micro keg tap, push it down, and pull the latch, locking the tap on the head of the beer.

From there, it’s a pretty simple operation: lie the bottle back in your fridge, chill it for between six to nine hours, and when it’s cold enough, pull yourself a beer, holding the glass at an angle. Easy.

You’ll need a decent amount of space in your fridge, mind you, as it’s a relatively large device, but we were able to take up an entire level in the GadgetGuy fridge by placing it diagonally on the shelf.

Pulling the beer is as simple as pushing against the tap with a glass held underneath.

For the Tap King, beer is made by pulling a flat beer from the bottle and mixing it with an injection of CO2, similar to what a Sodastream does, except inside a small bottle.

Do not puncture the CO2 canister. Do not state the obvious. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

In fact, every single Tap King replacement bottle contains 3.2 litres of alcohol – essentially ten 320ml drinks – with a carbon dioxide canister, and Lion includes a tool to help you remove the lid and CO2 canister for when you want to recycle the bottles. Nifty.

The most important part of the Tap King is flavour, so is it as good as a pub tap in your home?

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Write a comment
  1. ClubPage
    August 05, 05:52 ClubPage

    I really cannot see this product taking off. Reasons are price, taste, fridge space (a lot of beer fridges have been turned off in the last few years due to electricity prices).

    They are obviously looking for a gimmick to help try and boost market share. I don’t think this is the answer.

    Reply this comment
    • marto
      August 05, 23:13 marto

      tried the tap king loved it nothing like a draft beer at home yes price is abit expensive but worth it

      Reply this comment
  2. ben
    August 06, 11:32 ben

    i have 2 of these in my fridge – with 2 different beers and love it. i am a 30+ married male with a kid. i don’t go to pubs. i drink whilst sitting at home, watching the footy or playing playstation. and it’s perfect for that

    Reply this comment
  3. bottle maker
    August 08, 14:18 bottle maker

    Just to let you all know the beer is already carbonated in the bottle, the CO2 cylinder is only there to top up the pressure in the bottle once you pour a beer. If this pressure is not maintained the beers will become progressively more flat as each one is poured.
    bottle maker

    Reply this comment
    • Beer Hacker
      December 14, 13:24 Beer Hacker

      Correct. The beer is already carbonated. The co2 simply pushes it out. On a side note, they are great for home brewing,

      Reply this comment
  4. HomeBrewer
    August 09, 12:48 HomeBrewer

    Bought one of these when they came out, really enjoying it. Bottles come in a convenient size even if your just using it as a casual beer drinker (3.2 litres in 3 weeks isn’t much). Despite the misleading bottle sizes if you do the maths I’ve always been able to find a bottle that’s cheaper per ml then buying a regular carton, or at least the same price. Hopefully it stays that way though because they are still new the refills seem to be on sale all the time.

    Usually this has been from the cheaper beer ranges available but hey that’s what I get anyway. Have home brewed my own beers for about 15 years now If you like beer I’d recommend buying one.

    Also out of all my friends and family who mostly love beer (and some home brew as well) we all find the taste of these mini kegs to be superior to bottled beer (of equivalent brand). The only problem is maybe the first beer is a little too gassy (I guess its over gassed at the start so it holds for longer over time). So don’t let this Leigh bloke put you off, this article is really very negative and I disagree with his opinion. As he says himself in the first paragraph he doesn’t know anything about or even like beer much so yes it is strange that you would write an article critiquing a new beer product, especially when its a negative one.

    Is it a gimmick, yes an incredibly fun and cheap gimmick and something a lot of people have wanted for a while now. If you wanted to get one then I definitely recommend they are great fun and some good tasting beer.

    Reply this comment
  5. Jake H
    August 09, 23:36 Jake H

    I’m on my 6th James Squire 3.2l bottle and it tastes so good I havent tried the boags yet. Great product hope it stays around for a long time.

    Reply this comment
  6. Paul
    August 11, 08:01 Paul

    Just tried tap king w extra dry. Qaulity is about same in tastes. I suppose it crafty neat compare to having four long-neck beer bottles in the fridge shelf. Pity Lion didnt put on recycle scheme with Visy to reward users to return the cannisters. This gadget could have uses for the home brew enthusiasts.

    Reply this comment
    • matt
      August 20, 11:30 matt

      Go look up tap a draft, this has been around already for years.

      This is just a dispensing system using co2 not a gassing, you need to chill and let it sit over night at least, with that so the beer absorbs the co2

      Reply this comment
  7. Rob
    August 13, 12:04 Rob

    Bought a Tap King last week and love it. For anyone who prefers a draught or more ‘real ale’ taste it is great. I have always knocked most of the gas out of any bottled lager I have drunk and find the Tap king serves up the perfect amount of fizz. Just sayin’….

    Reply this comment
  8. yahoo
    August 16, 15:24 yahoo

    I received one for my birthday, beer tasted good but was too gassy and we spent more time waiting for froth to go.
    I would not buy another one and I would not recommend Tap King for that reason. also stubbies are easier!

    Reply this comment
  9. Greg
    August 20, 01:15 Greg

    in any major city you can find bottleshops that sell “growlers”: takehome sealed flagons of actual tap beer that sure as hell tastes better and fresher than the equivalent bottle. not the cheap crap that’s available for tap king, admittedly, but still at a lower price than you’d pay at a pub despite generally being vastly superior beers to what your local offers.

    Reply this comment
  10. beer drinker
    August 27, 13:25 beer drinker

    Hard to keep tabs on how many drinks you’ve had especially when first couple of beers are frothy- pouring is inconsistent nearly flat by end of bottle. Too expensive. Definitely just a clever marketing ploy. Want my money back

    Reply this comment
  11. Wombat
    August 28, 22:48 Wombat

    If you don’t brew your own you deserve to drink this swill

    Reply this comment
  12. R
    August 31, 06:47 R

    Yes. You can use these for your own beer.
    The cap is easily disassembled and the co2 can be swapped out. Refill the bottle with carbonated beer and your away.
    Also, if you’re getting too much foam, the tap king needs more chilling. These dispensers have been setup for fairly cold beer.

    Reply this comment
  13. No bubbles no second chance
    September 01, 18:21 No bubbles no second chance

    One word…FLAT.

    What a disappointment it is. You’re spot on gadget guy.

    Reply this comment
  14. Wim
    September 11, 09:27 Wim

    hey Mr Gadget Beer is always best in cold glasses and clean glasses the one in the pictures are not clean my tap king is great heaps of gas great for me

    Reply this comment
  15. Haxx0r
    September 15, 10:17 Haxx0r

    Trying to work out how to hack this to work with home-brew.

    Reply this comment
  16. Thomas
    September 20, 12:18 Thomas

    You’re wrong. The product is brilliant. Don’t know what people you got to test them but every person I’ve met who has had a beer from it has said it is much better than out of a bottle.

    Reply this comment
  17. ProDude
    September 26, 16:48 ProDude

    This is not a good product. The first beer is all head, the next 2 are good but after that the flow drops off and it takes an age to pour and the carbonation drops off. I’m throwing mine out.

    Reply this comment
  18. Matt
    November 11, 17:21 Matt

    I tryed extra dry, it pours great beer but doesn’t taste the same as the glass bottles… They should use glass instead of plastic and it might be a winner

    Reply this comment
  19. Dale
    December 29, 18:15 Dale

    anyone know why mine won’t pour? Tapped the new bottle yesterday then poured a beer today… got halfway through filling a scooner glass and it died in the ass.. not happy

    Reply this comment

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