Are beer pumps also money pumps?


Beer taps use large capacity containers to operate. The price per liter of drink thus served should be more advantageous for the consumer than with cans or bottles. The reality is much more nuanced.

Something for everyone, but…

© Gettyimages

We often tend to think that buying wholesale is more economical than retail. And it is indeed often the case; per litre, the price of a drink sold in a large 2-litre bottle, for example, is lower than that of the same drink in a 33 cl can.

However, on the occasion of an article on domestic beer dispensers, we discovered that these devices used large capacity kegs (5 or 6 l, depending on the brand). We therefore wondered if the consumer could expect to make some savings thanks to these larger volumes. To do this, we chose a few brews and compared the prices per liter in barrels and per bottle.

If you have read our dossier carefully, you know that the market for domestic dispensers is divided into two major players: the Heineken groups (at the origin of the Beertender machine) and Anheuser-Busch InBev (which developed the Perfect Draft pump ). The two competitors produce different beers and therefore it is impossible to compare strictly speaking the prices of a Beertender keg and a Perfect Draft keg. We have therefore based ourselves on beers that we think are relatively close to each other for this article.

At Beertender

Bartender machine kegs are the easiest to find in physical stores.

Credit where credit is due, we are starting this comparison with Heineken beer. In the same brand, the 5-litre barrel costs €17.39, or €3.48 per litre. Bottled, prices vary between €3.08 and €2.23 per liter depending on the packaging (beer or can) and quantity. The price difference starts at €0.40 per litre, culminating in €1.25, which is still a lot.

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beer tender

A gesture not so economical as that…

© Krups

We then chose La Goudale, a slightly less well-known but fairly well-distributed beer. You have to shed €25.10 to buy a 5-litre keg, or €5.02 per litre. In bottles and cans, the prices vary between €3.94 per liter and €3.13, ie a difference of more than one euro at the minimum (€1.06 precisely) and €1.89 at the maximum.

At Perfect Draft

First observation, Perfect Draft barrels are actually quite rare on the shelves of our supermarkets and hypermarkets. So we went to a well-established website (and a very good SEO) to find out the prices of a beer that we think is quite close to that of Heineken and that can be easily obtained, the classic blonde Leffe. Excluding shipping costs, the 6-litre keg is therefore sold for €31.50 or €5.25 per litre. Back to where we found our bottles of Heineken: prices range from €3.49 per liter to €2.60. The price difference therefore stretches from €1.76 to go up to €2.65. In the latter case, the cost is multiplied by two.

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6 liter kegs are not cheaper than 5 liter ones.

© PerfectDraft

We then set our sights on the Tripel Karmeliet, sold for €40.90 per 6-litre barrel, or €6.82 per litre. Bottled, this brew costs €5.61 per litre, so you save €1.21 per litre.

The Sub case

The Sub torps live up to their name very well, since they will literally torpedo your beer budget. In this format, two liters of Heineken will cost you €8.99, or almost €4.50 per litre! As a reminder, this beer is sold for €3.48 per liter in 5-litre barrels; bottled, at the most expensive, it costs €3.08 per liter and at the least expensive, €2.23 per litre. Once again, the drink is twice as expensive as bottled.

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Krups The Sub

The chesterfield in the background is arguably cheaper than the torp contained in the shooter.

© Krups

And for slightly more exclusive beers (without being extremely rare, let’s be clear), we can reasonably speak of truandage: €18.99 for two liters of Delirium Tremens! €9.50 per litre! At this price, you might as well buy the brewery.

To compare prices on an equal footing, we have not taken shipping costs into account.

Non-pressurized drums, a possible solution?

These barrels are used on universal machines that need CO2 cartridges to create the pressure, less known and less widespread with us. It is therefore sometimes complicated to find compatible drums, but you can do it by rummaging here and there. You can get an entry-level barrel of blonde for 20 €. To this must be added the price of the cartridge which is enough to empty a keg or fill 20 glasses, and which costs more or less one euro depending on the quantities.

On the other hand, it is very complicated to compare prices between barrels and bottles, the latter being even more poorly distributed than kegs on the French market.

With these few examples, we realize that the purchase of a beer dispenser is not really synonymous with savings. Its acquisition is rather part of a festive approach to give a little spice (and foam) to a family barbecue or a football evening… or on condition of being a fierce and exclusive supporter of draft beer. Don’t forget that alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health and should be consumed in moderation.

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