Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale in bottle and mini-keg forms.

A few weeks ago I found myself with 3 beverages in front of me:

  • Newcastle Brown Ale in a bottle
  • Newcastle Brown Ale in a mini-keg
  • Cup of cold water to clear my taste palate

My goal when I started this was to organize my thoughts and share why the beer from these mini-kegs was superior and that it was more than just a marketing gimmick or novelty item. I have had Heineken in bottle, can and mini-keg versions and differences exist in each form of distribution. Without hesitation I can state that the mini-keg is the best Heineken I’ve had at home. As good as getting one on tap? I won’t claim that, but it’s close.

Unfortunately I was disappointed when comparing the newcastle mini-keg to the bottled version. I expected the mini-keg to be better than the bottle but this was not the case. Unless I happened to get a bad keg, the best bottle of newcastle ever or a combination of both – my expectations were off.

To compare, the keg was creamy and smooth but the problem is that it tasted flat. The bottle had a lot more flavor and depth behind every sip. That is essentially it – but the differences were so extreme that most people would think these were 2 different beers. When I had a few others compare the taste, their thoughts were the same as mine – only 1/5 tasters preferred the keg over the bottle.

Taste aside, the color/smell were the same. The keg is a cool concept compared to buying a 12 pack of beer, but with that in mind, the keg holds 5L of beer. That comes out to just over 14 bottles (12 fl oz). At the same cost per volume, the keg only becomes a better value if the 12 pack is $17.14 or higher. Since $17 is unheard of for a 12 pack of newcastle in my area (dual 6 packs would be about the same though) I simply can’t recommend the newcastle keg by any means. The bottle version wasn’t bad… but I won’t be doing a standard full review. I will just mention that if you drink light beer and want to try something a little different, this would be a good choice.

Please note that I am not trying to say all mini-kegs and draft versions of beers are not tasty and a bad value. As I said, the Heineken keg was an improvement over the bottle/can versions and while I don’t drink coors normally, I had a chance to try that on home draft and it was a little better than the bottle/can versions as well.