Two Notes on Newcastle

Seeing Stan's post about Newcastle jogged my memory about another item I forgot to post. First, Stan's news:
Heineken, which owns Scottish & Newcastle, announced it is closing the brewery that currently brews Newcastle Brown Ale and moving production to Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.
(He has more texture, if you are interested in lost, historically-significant breweries.

The item I forgot to post involves a mini-keg of Newcastle the brewery sent me some weeks ago. As you now know, Newcastle is owned by Heineken, and they've been touting the mini-keg ("Draughtkeg" in their parlance) extensively. This is the same tech, and the first minikeg I've used. All in all, I ended up impressed.

The virtues include ease of use and novelty. It comes with a little nozzle that you easily attach; a dispenser tab allows you to pull the pint just by lifting--easy peasy. I received it during the summer, and one day when I had friends over, we put it in the middle of the table and enjoyed the sun. Periodically, someone would reach over and pour a pint, and everyone else seemed to enjoy the spectacle. I also bought a bottle of Newcastle for comparison purposes, and although the bottle was ever so slightly skunked, otherwise the beer was identical. It doesn't really emerge from the keg a superior product--though you get a rich head and a clean, unskunked beer.

Other minor discoveries. 1. The instructions say to refrigerate 12 hours before dispensing, and they're not kidding around. I went about 9 and it poured a tad warm. Not a problem (a preference, really), except that the beer tended to foam as a result. 2. The state of Oregon offers a 5-cent deposit on the keg. This shows remarkable fidelity to the concept of equity: Oregon doesn't care how big a can is, it's all five cents to them. The average person might feel a bit silly trying to return the thing for a nickel, though.

Finally, it's not a bad value at $23 bucks. The keg is 1.33 gallons, or roughly 170 ounces--14.2 bottles of beer. Doing my own six-pack equivalent calculation, I come up with $9.72. Given the enjoyment you get from the container, it's not a bad premium to pay. Apparently, the beer will last 30 days after the first tapping, too, so you don't have to tear through it.

Now, I know a lot of you are not great admirers of Newcastle Brown. Nor am I. It's a sweet and insipid. But the technology is cool, and I know there are other variants out there. Widmer offers Hefeweizen in a similar keg, and I recently saw a spread at Belmont Station of imported German beer--good stuff, I recall. Assuming those are as well-designed as the Draughtkeg, I think we may be onto something here.