Friday, 19 January 2007

Beer O’Clock – Heineken Mini-Keg

Here for your delectation and delight is our first beer column for the New Year from our regular beer correspondent, Real Beer's Neil Miller.

A long time ago, in a country just like this one, the beer scene was pretty sad.

Two mighty Empires had divided up the entire country between them. While competition between them was fierce, their products were virtually identical – brown, fizzy, sweet.

Beer was to be drunk in volume and as quickly possible. It was often served through a pressure hose from an underground tank. It was not a classy age.

Before the development of the Rebel craft brewing scene, the few rays of hope were often provided by imported beers. While not always the freshest, these imports had qualities that many local products lacked at that time – things like hops. And flavour.

One of those beers was Heineken – the original Dutch classic lager. It was hugely prestigious, it was popular and it was expensive.

Today, the beer scene is much changed. Heineken is now made in Otahuhu, and there is a huge variety of products with whole ranges of flavoursome beers from here and overseas that we can also enjoy, meaning Heineken doesn’t stand out as it once did.

But it’s still pretty expensive. However, having attended a number of Wellington corporate Christmas parties I can testify to its continued popularity. These days Heineken is a simple, easy drinking lager with just a hint of dry hops.

The other day there was a knock at the door of my secret overground headquarters. It was a courier guy with a large and heavy cylindrical package. Inside was Heineken’s latest invention – the 5-litre mini keg (or “large can of beer” as I like to call it). My spirits rose immediately.

I’ve had mini-kegs before. Warsteiner and DAB from Germany regularly have kegs available here. I quite like them – you can sit down next to the keg and don’t have to keep getting up to go to the fridge and missing three Black Cap wickets while you are there. If you take a mini keg to a party you can say “I just bought one beer” and then laugh and laugh. Well, I do.

The difference here is in the space-age dispensing system which claims to keep beer fresh for up to 30 days after opening. I tried a beer after about 10 days in the keg and it was still pretty darn fresh as promised.

Providing the keg is chilled for 10 hours and kept stable it pours pretty well too. If you break these rules though you had better have a hankering for beer foam because that is what you will get.

I find the Heineken from the keg fresher, more aromatic and more sociable than the same beer from the bottle. It is a talking point and one of the best ways to drink Heineken. Plus it will look so cool in your recycling bin. You will be the envy of your neighbours!

Heineken mini-kegs are available in most supermarkets.

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  1. Three Black Caps wickets? Cheap shot Neil! I'd not trade this pint of Bookbinder I'm drinking for all the Heineken on the planet. I love Fridays!

  2. Some years ago, Becks used to but out a wee barrel o' beer too.

    Now I have to find an outlet that sells this latest offering...

  3. Greig:

    Cheap but accurate!

    And I see that Heineken Mini Keg is now the sixth most searched term to find this blog. Spooky!


    I thought you would make your own keg!

  4. I recently tasted Stella v Heineken side by side. Stella came out tops for 100% of those tasting. We both thought it showed a nice hop character, as opposed to almost none.

    Is there a DB beer that is better than it's direct Lion competitor? I can't think of one.

  5. "I recently tasted Stella v Heineken side by side. Stella came out tops for 100% of those tasting."

    No surprise there. No surprise at all. Oswald's Becks keg would be far more to my taste...

    "Is there a DB beer that is better than it's direct Lion competitor? I can't think of one."

    Well, in Auckland at least, there seems to be plenty of inexpensive imported Becks around at the moment, which I understand is imported by Lion. There's also abundant inexpensive Czech Budvar, which is imported by DB. Now here I've got to say if Budvar isn't better, it's at least enormously enjoyable comparing the two to determine a winner. In fact, everyone's a winner. :-)


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