Philips Perfect Draft full review
There aren’t many beer gadgets out there but the Philips Perfect Draft brings beer on tap to your home with minimal hassle. Here’s our full review.
The Perfect Draft is available from Amazon but you’re much better off getting it from a specialist retailer. You can get it cheaper than the stand-alone price of £249 Amazon offers if you buy it from Beer Hawk, which supplied our review sample.
The retailer has a starter bundle including the Perfect Draft, keg of your choice and a glass of your choice for just £209 - a comparative bargain. You can get 10% off your first order if you sign up to the newsletter, too.
It’s a fairly high cost but it’s not like a phone where you’ll want to upgrade it every few years.
Kegs range from £27.50 to £35 which for 6L isn’t exactly the best price per litre for beer but you buying into the tech here. There’s also a £5 deposit on each keg so you can send them back and get credit to spend on the next order (or other stuff if you like).
Design & Build
There are a few parts to put together in order to build the Perfect Draft but it’s simple enough and the instructions are clear. Learning to put a keg in the first time might seem a little daunting but it's easy enough.
The instructions aren’t quite so clear for this but you can watch Beer Hawk’s videos which make it much easier to understand.
Once the keg is in, you might need to wait a long time before the beer is cold enough to pour and drink. Our suggestion is to get it all set up straight away as typically the kegs will be pretty cold from sitting in a courier’s van.
If you want one for a party, don’t leave it until the same day as it can take up to 15 hours for the keg to cool down to three degrees centigrade. Our other tip is to put the keg outside overnight (during cooler months, of course) then put it into the machine in the morning. You can also make use of your fridge if there's space.
The Perfect Draft machine is a combination of plastic and metal. It doesn’t feel cheap but also not the most luxurious machine around. It’s fairly bulky so you’ll need to bear this in mind if you want it sitting in the kitchen. It’s bigger than most coffee machines for comparison.
It's worth noting that you don't need to worry much about cleaning lines as each keg comes with a new connector. One odd thing is the way the instructions told us to choose a magnetic cap style for the tap, yet both in the box are the same.
Features & Performance
There’s not a great deal of complexity here, which is nice. Once you’re set up and the beer is cold enough simply pull the handle and pour beer into your chosen glass.
The main feature here is an LCD screen which displays a few different bits of information starting with the temperature of the beer. You’ll see this go down as the system cools and will turn from red to green when the beer is ready.
You can pour beer at a higher temperature and the machine won’t stop you but it’s not advised, mainly because you’re likely to get a glass of foam instead of liquid. We tried it at eight degrees (C) and this was certainly the case.
Things are still a little foamy at three degrees (C) but not half as bad. We recommend using a glass with plenty of space.
If we were nit picking we’d like to be able to adjust the temperature for different beer styles but this isn’t the end of the world. However, there aren’t really styles we’d rather drink at a warmer temperature like stouts available anyway - which is a different issue.
That screen on the front will also tell you how many days you have left to drink the beer, essentially a countdown from 30 as well as how much beer there is left in the keg. This is shown in blocks similar to many modern car fuel gauges.
This works well generally but we had a minor issue with our second keg where the volume bars dropped quite quickly, despite not pouring loads, then went back up a day later so it's not 100% reliable.
Although the machine works very well, you might want to look at the range of kegs available before you splash the case. Note this is not able to accept 5L mini kegs you’ll find in the supermarket. Instead they are special kegs that only work in the Perfect Draft.
Beer Hawk has a fairly large range of beers available - the time of writing there are 30 different kegs - with quite a few different styles ranging from lagers to Belgian tripels. A few more, such as Bass, have been added since we started testing the machine.
With the likes of Leffe, Becks and Goose Island the range might not be broad enough for the craft beer enthusiast out there but for others it will be perfectly good. It comes down to your personal taste and opinions of breweries (there are eight variations of Leffe, for example). Those who enjoy darker beers aren't going to find much to be tempted by.
The beers taste good, although one of the ones we tried - Goose Island IPA - didn't taste how we know it to taste from bottles or at bars on draught. The flavour profile was lacking a punch from hops we'd normally expect from this beer. The keg was coming to the end of its shelf life thought so this will have some impact.
It might sound a little expensive, but this is an investment type of purchase. The Perfect Draft will last much longer than your (probably even more pricey) smartphone.
Overall, the machine achieves what it sets out to do - bring beer on tap into your home in an easy and convenient way. We only have very minor niggles with how the whole thing works.
The beer selection is good, if not amazing, and will suit the casual drinker rather than the craft beer enthusiast.