Faster cooling and superior temperature control make the PerfectDraft Pro a worthy upgrade from the original model
- Variable temperature control
- Reduced cooling time
- Easy to use
- Very big and heavy
- Not power efficient
Philips Perfect Draft Pro gives beer lovers an easy way to enjoy ice-cold pints on tap, without heading to the pub. Following on from its predecessor, the Pro comes with new and improved features and a hefty price rise to match. These include a new design, improved cooling, an adjustable temperature range with suggested temperatures for each beer, better pouring and a shiny new app to control and monitor your machine wirelessly.
These new features don’t come cheap, however. At £135 more than the original and with a much larger worktop footprint, the PerfectDraft Pro is a hefty investment reserved for serious enthusiasts only.
PerfectDraft Pro review: What do you get for the money?
At the time of review, the Perfect Draft Pro costs £385. If you buy the machine on its own, without a bundle deal, you get the base machine and the detachable tap with a standard UK plug, as well as an additional two-pin plug – it’s everything you need to get started, minus the keg itself. There are also four interchangeable medallions in the box, which allow you to customise the tap of your machine and can be fixed via magnets – these come in yellow, blue, black and white. There’s room to chill one 6L keg at a time but there isn’t one included in the box, unless you choose to pay a bit more to bundle up. Kegs start around £30 but can go up to £41 and you get about 10.5 pints from one keg. This averages out at just over £3 a pint. You can buy kegs from Beer Hawk or set up a keg subscription – useful for keeping the home bar stocked.
As well as being pricier than its predecessor, it’s also a fair bit bigger, measuring 44.5 x 29.4 x 40.1cm (WDH) compared to the 37.6 x 26 x 34.6cm dimensions of the old model. According to Philips, this is so the Pro can be used globally, as kegs outside of Europe are slightly larger. Additionally, the Pro has more insulation than the original, allowing the machine to cope with hotter environments of up to 38ºC. Of course, these extra centimetres mean it takes up a serious amount of worktop space, making it best suited to people with larger kitchens or a dedicated bar area. Despite its size, the design is fairly streamlined and not too hard on the eye. The spout sits at the front, as does the digital screen, which displays the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. After pouring your first pint, you’ll also see a little keg symbol, which serves as a rough indication of how full your keg is.
New to this model is temperature control. There are two ways to change the temperature of your beer: using the buttons on the front of the machine or via the dedicated app. While the original PerfectDraft chilled every beer to 3ºC, regardless of the keg, the Pro version allows you to chill from 3ºC to 7ºC from the machine, with an extended temperature range of 0º C to 12ºC when using the app. The app also allows you to input which keg you’re currently using for a recommended temperature, monitor the temperature of your beer and get notified when it’s at the right temperature, as well as purchase additional kegs.
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PerfectDraft Pro review: What’s good about it?
There’s no denying that the PerfectDraft Pro’s biggest new feature is its adjustable temperature range. There are over 40 different kegs that work in this machine, from IPAs, lagers and ciders to wheat beers and stouts, and being able to adjust the temperature based on the style of beer you’re drinking is essential to get the best results. Of course, you don’t have to stick to the app recommendations, it’s also down to personal preference, which is why the extended temperature range, starting at a chilly 0ºC, is so refreshing – no pun intended. No matter how you enjoy your beer, the Pro can cater to it.
The Pro also pours incredibly well. I’m no professional but had pulling a pint down after just one attempt. This is possibly helped by the Pro’s new feature which Philips is calling ’Smart Pour’. This cools the keg evenly all the way around, meaning there isn’t a temperature difference between the top and bottom of the keg. This is supposed to create less foaming compared to the original model, allowing you to perfect your pint with less practice.
While the kegs do still take a long time to cool, especially if you haven’t prechilled them in the fridge, the chill time has been improved significantly. The PerfectDraft Pro takes around seven hours to chill a keg from room temperature (around 24ºC), compared to the 12+ hours you’d be waiting with the original. This can take a little longer in particularly hot rooms, as the machine is battling with constant heat. We found when testing it in 30ºC heat, the chill time was closer to nine hours. If you do have the space to pre-chill a keg in your fridge, you can bring this down to under three hours on a normal day and around three to four hours in hotter temperatures.
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Another notable benefit of the Pro is how quiet it is. While it will occasionally make some noise when bringing beer up to temperature, for the majority of the time it only produces the slightest hum. While this has no effect on how your beer tastes, it’s an added benefit for anyone who dislikes constant, niggling appliance noise.
PerfectDraft Pro review: What could be improved?
While you can’t really fault how well this machine performs, nor the resulting pints, there are a few things that could be better. The first of these is the size. While the Pro’s added bulk is designed to accommodate non-European kegs and additional insulation, it’s a shame more hasn’t been done to slim down the machine, as the size is quite off-putting. You’ll need plenty of free worktop space in your kitchen or a dedicated bar area.
Another thing that might put people off is power usage. Whereas the original PerfectDraft consumed an average of 40W, and peaked at 70W, Philips’ quoted figures suggest that the Pro uses a maximum of 130W, with an average of 72W at a 25°C room temperature. If those figures are accurate, and you’re planning to leave the PerfectDraft Pro running 24/7, then at current UK energy prices it’ll cost you around 48p per day to run. With a keg lasting an estimated 3 weeks, that’ll add around £10 to your energy bill for a 3 week period alone. Compare that to your average half-height refrigerator, and the PerfectDraft Pro looks greedy: an F-rated fridge with a daily consumption of 0.31kWh would cost only 8p per day and £1.82 to run over the same 3 week period.
Given the spiralling costs of energy in the UK, this suggests that you’d be advised to pre-chill kegs in your fridge and potentially also store them there when you’re not using the PerfectDraft Pro – going by Philips’ own energy consumption figures, your average fridge is far more energy efficient. You’d also be advised to turn the machine off whenever you’re not using it.
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PerfectDraft Pro review: Should you buy it?
If you’ve been considering an at-home draft beer machine for a while, you might have already factored in things such as cost, power consumption and size, so many of the downsides might not come as much of a shock to you. While it’s frustrating that the machine is larger and more expensive to run, the various tweaks to the design and the addition of variable temperature control makes the PerfectDraft Pro a far more capable and versatile machine.
That said, it won’t suit everybody. If you drink mainly lagers and aren’t too fussed about the keg cooling wait time, the original PerfectDraft is the more sensible option. It’s much cheaper, smaller and a tad more energy efficient.
And, conversely, if you drink a really wide variety of beers and aren’t too taken by the selection of kegs currently on offer, you’ll likely be more satisfied by spending your money on a selection of craft beer from your local or online emporium – the PerfectDraft Pro is brilliant at what it does, but the pricey kegs, steep running costs and high initial price are rather harder to swallow.