Never underestimate the power of Twitter.
A little while ago I’d banged on in a few tweets about how I wished Lion would hurry up and send me one of their new-fangled Tap King systems to review, because I really wanted one. To be honest, I didn’t fancy my chances – and not only because the first tweet inaccurately credited CUB as being the makers of the Tap King.
So imagine my surprise when a PR company contacts me – via Twitter – and says ‘‘we saw your tweets and we sent you a Tap King yesterday’’. They even fulfilled my wish that they sent me a bottle of James Squire’s golden ale as I didn’t like any of the other beers. So very nice of them.
Now, before you all go crazy with asking people to send you stuff on Twitter, I’m pretty sure they sent me one due to my day job as a beer writer for a newspaper and not because I’m also a blogger.
But I was quite excited to get the Tap King. Because I genuinely think it’s a good idea. Though I guess I should explain was ‘‘it’’ is. The Tap King is a beer dispenser that sits in your fridge at home. You can buy 3.2-litre bottles that connect into the back of the unit and allow you to pour draught beer for about three weeks – that’s the claimed longevity of the bottles.
I liked it because it’s actually a bit of a beer innovation. When it comes to mainstream brewers, ‘‘innovation’’ usually means changing packaging or devising a differently shaped can. But this actually an innovation – a new way to deliver beer.
I also liked it because it’s fun. There’s an undeniable joy in being able to pour your own beer from the Tap King. It adds a bit of a sense of theatre to proceedings and it’s more fun than pouring a beer from a bottle into a glass.
As for the brass tacks side of things, there are a few small quibbles. The bottles need to be chilled for at least nine hours before being tapped, which means you can’t buy one of them on your way home from work and be drinking from it that night.
I’d have liked a bit of instruction about putting the dispenser together. While there are only a few little bits and pieces that need to be connected, the buyer is left to their own devices to figure a few of them out. For instance, I was slow to realise that, while pouring, you use the glass to push the drip tray inside the system and allowing it to spring back out when finished.
And there is a mysterious black rectangular piece of plastic left over after construction. It’s apparently a tool to take the lid off the bottle when empty so you can recycle the rest, but I only found that after emailing the helpful PR guy who sent me the Tap King. Your average punter is going to be left scratching their head over what that implement is for. Or maybe they’ll all be heaps smarter than me and work it out by themselves.
But, as I said, those are minor quibbles and certainly wouldn’t stop me from using the Tap King. What would stop me is the limited selection – well, it’s limited from my perspective. The Tap King has been launched with six beers – as well as the golden ale, there is XXXX Gold, Hahn SuperDry, Boag’s Premium, Tooheys New and Tooheys Extra Dry. None of those are beers that I drink.
But I freely accept this really isn’t aimed at craft beer geeks like me – it’s aimed at the mainstream drinkers. And they’re going to love it – and, to be honest, I’m a little envious of them.
Lion will love Tap King as well, because rather than cannibalise existing customers, the Tap King shows real promise at being able to bring other people back to beer. And the more people who drink beer, the better it is for all of us.