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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Review: Micro Matic Kegerators

(The following is a paid review solicited via

For my second ReviewMe mission, I've been asked to give my thoughts on the line-up of Kegerator draught beer dispensing units produced by the Micro Matic company. Although they didn't actually send me one for a test run, so I guess I'm really just giving my opinion on how they look on the website.

As with my first ReviewMe post (a review of the UK-based website Homebrew 4U) , I'm at a slight disadvantage because I'm not really in the Kegerator target market. As much as I like beer, the idea of having kegs on tap at home has never really appealed to me, probably because I rarely drink more than one of the same beer in a row.

That being said, if I was interested in getting a draught system for home, the Kegerator models look pretty decent. They come in a variety of sizes and prices, ranging from a US$495 unit that holds a pony (1/4 barrel) keg, to a US$1,470 professional grade unit that houses full-sized (1/2 barrel) keg. There are a couple of double-tap models available as well, for those who like a bit of variety.

Customers could also have some confidence regarding the quality of the products based on the fact that Micro Matic has been around since 1953 and is one of the world leaders in the manufacture and distribution of draught beer equipment. If the stuff they make is good enough for bars and restaurants in over 120 countries, it should be more than good enough for a home bar set-up. And the fact that all of the units have fairly detailed info and specifications available online makes comparison shopping easy.

So - I probably won't be buying one for myself any time soon, but if you're in the market for a draught beer dispenser for your own home bar, this site may be a good place to start, if only to get an idea of what's available from the pro-grade manufacturers. If you don't believe me, just ask Alan.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Session #2: Dubbels

Another Session, and another last minute post from yours truly. This month, we're doing dubbels. Which means that I should probably start by confessing that I'm a bit of a spaz when it comes to Belgian ales.

It's not that I don't enjoy them. Like most beer geeks, some of my favourite beers come from Belgium, or are brewed in the Belgian style. It's just that I have a hard time keeping track of what characteristics differentiate the various Belgian sub-styles from each other. So when Alan announced his pick for the second edition of The Session was dubbels, I was at a bit of a loss, and had to check RateBeer to see which beers were actually in that style.

Another factor was figuring out which dubbels are actually available in Ontario, since we're at the mercy of a government owned liquor monopoly here. As I mentioned in my last post, the only dubbels we can get here on a regular basis are Leffe Brune and Chimay Premiere (Rouge). Both of them are decent enough beers, but I was hoping for something a bit more unique for this Session.

But then I noticed something interesting: According to RateBeer (as well as Beer Advocate), Tickle Brain Ale from the UK brewery Burton Bridge is considered a dubbel. And it just so happened that I had one bottle of Tickle Brain left in my stash from a private order that a few of us got in on last year. A nice stroke of luck.

According to the label, "Tickle Brain" was a Tudor name for strong drink, so it fits this 8% beer well. It has a nice, rich ruby colour with a slight haze from the bottle conditioning. The aroma is big and sweet, lots of malt and caramel and dark fruit, and some sharper spicy notes coming through as it warms. More of the same in the flavour - caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit and berries, and an alcohol warmth that comes on a bit strong, but which is appreciated on this unseasonably cold Good Friday night. It's not an everyday beer to be sure, but it's nice to have around for those times that you want something a little stronger to savour. Too bad that this is my last bottle.

Thanks to Alan for picking a style that led to me getting a bit of an education. I'm already looking forward to next month.