Launched in 2013 Tap King looked like being a decent option for people wanting to have beer on tap at home. After buying the plastic dispenser and a 3.2L disposable plastic bottles of a select range of beers you simply took them home, chilled them and then attached them to the dispenser to have beer on tap in the fridge.
On paper I'm sure their marketing team thought it sounded like a good idea. I don't know of a single beer drinker who wouldn't want "frosty cold, perfectly poured beer" on tap in their kitchen, bbq area or home bar.
Not every beer lover has space for a kegerator at home, nor would it be a worthwhile investment (often costing well over $1000 to fully set up with kegs and gas etc). Even if you did set up a complete system, unless you have a brewery willing to fill 19L kegs nearby the only way to use it is to become a home brewer, something not everyone has the time or inclination for.
So Lion saw an opportunity and they took it and a bunch of people jumped at the chance to have a "range of affordable" tap beer at home.
Unfortunately what was delivered was nothing like the promise. The whole thing being made of plastic made it feel like a cheap marketing gimmick and the fact that the price per litre of beer was actually a good bit higher than the same beer in bottles or cans despite it only being a single plastic bottle instead of 24 glass bottles for packaging left a bad taste in your mouth before you even poured a beer...
Unfortunately the problems continued from there.
For one thing nearly every shop stocking them only had them warm on the shelf. This meant you had to, according to the directions, wait 9 hours for the bottle to chill, meaning you had to think ahead by at least a day. This is mainly due to plastic being a pretty efficient insulator compared to glass or aluminium (you can spin a warm aluminium tinny of beer on ice and have it chilled in 1 mins! See a video here)
The other problem came when you went to pour your 1st beer (after waiting for it to chill) often the first glass was nothing but froth and in many cases there were faults with the gas system so that the beer only dribbled out flat and lifeless.
You can build your own tap king replacement system from 2 litres to 10 litres with a world of options available.
It became obvious in July of 2015 that Lion was re-thinking it's product when they reduced the range of beers available to be only the James Squire range (more expensive) severely limiting what was already a very narrow range of choices (till then it had included XXXX, Tooheys and Hahn). When they announced the entire range had been discontinued in Jan 2016 it was both unsurprising and at the same time incredibly frustrating for the loyal customers who had actually had a good run with the equipment and bottles and were happy with the product.
The Tap King Facebook page got inundated with disappointed and angry users who had purchased the dispensers but now have no way of buying refills.
What the customers were left with was an unusable plastic dispenser and the option to contact Lion (this wasn't publicly announced by Lion of course) to be sent a replied paid satchel they could return it in. Upon Lion receiving the returned dispenser they said they would post out a $30 voucher in compensation. So customers had to contact the company, wait for a satchel to be delivered, pack the dispenser and take it to a post office then wait for a voucher to be delivered at some time in the future... Understandably a lot of customers were annoyed by what was clearly seen as a large multi-national company only thinking about profits.
So when we (iKegger) as a small Australian company put up an offer on our website to get a discount of $30 on one of our all stainless steel mini keg systems in exchange for sending us a picture of your smashed Tap King we got a lot of people very happy to do so.
In fact, a little worryingly to begin with, one old fella turned up on my doorstep with his dispenser and an axe to do the deed in front of us!
In fact the fall of Tap King was a great boost to us as a little start up company working out of my garage because what we were offering was the exact opposite to Lion's Tap King fiasco while providing exactly the same thing to the customer, namely beer on tap in your fridge.
The major differences were pretty obvious!
- We are a small Australian owned and operated company with our customers happiness the most important thing to us (we would quickly vanish if it wasn't) not a huge multi-national who only cares about profit.
- Our mini keg are formed from 304 18/8 stainless steel. They are reusable, refillable and designed to last for you and your grandchildren's lifetime.
- Being made of steel rather than plastic they chill quickly, and you can use the same spinning trick in the video earlier to chill a full keg in 5-10 minutes rather than 9 hours.
- They can be used lying down like the Tap King on a shelf in the fridge.
- You can also use them vertically in an esky for example, making them much more versatile.
- They have giant stubby coolers with shoulder straps available to fit them so you can take them anywhere easily and they will stay cold for a couple of hours even without an esky.
- With hundreds of venues around Australia and the world filling them and new ones opening every day you can get any beer you like in them. Any bar with a takeaway license can fill them from the tap and there are hundreds of dedicated "Growler Fill" stations, some with up to 30 rotating taps available at any time.
- You have a proper pub style metal beer tap to pour from instead of a dodgy plastic spout.
- The regulator is professional quality, accessible and you can adjust it as and when you need to to get the perfect pour every time and never end up with flat beer or a half full keg you can't access.
- All of our keg systems are also perfect for home-brewers, something the Tap King system was specifically designed to discourage (there are hundreds of videos on youtube of all the methods people tried to be able to reuse the kits)
- On that note, we are a lot less wasteful. You can use the same keg over and over again for years rather than throwing a plastic bottle in the bin every 6 pints.
- We have keg options that hold 2L, 4L, 5L, and 10L all of which fit easily on one shelf in the fridge. In a larger fridge you can even fit 2 of the 10L kegs on one shelf!
You can check them out yourself on the link below, use the drop down menus to adjust the size of the keg, the type of tap and the type of gas options you want and see it form in real time! Obviously the cost of our systems are much higher than a Tap King but we think they are worth it ;-)