At Pocket-lint we take the job of reviewing the latest gadgets very seriously, so it was with some mirth that we got down and dirty with the Wunderbar Thermo. But will this give you that pub feeling in your home? We get drinking to find out.
Cut down to its basics, the Wunderbar Thermo is a refrigeration and pumping device for mini beer kegs. Open the lid and the keg fits into the cavity inside the unit. In terms of set-up, it is relatively simple, but you do have to identify the type of keg you have and the corresponding adaptor supplied with the kit which is where things get more complex.
There are a range of kegs on the market, the most common, it seems, is the pressurised 5-litre keg which is commonly available in supermarkets, such as the Heineken variety, which we’ll talk about in more detail later. The Wunderbar will accept a 5-litre draught keg, 4- and 6-litre pressure kegs, as well as the supplied "uni-keg".
Each variety of keg takes a different adaptor, so it is worth checking out what is available and compatibility. The adaptors basically attach to the top of the keg and provide connections for air to go in and beer to come out. There is also an option for additional CO2, but the Thermo model doesn’t come with that as standard, so wasn’t reviewed.
The uni-keg is actually a 6-litre plastic container which you can fill with a drink of choice; the manual candidly states "Wine is also well suited for the uni-keg". You can fill it with soft drinks too, of course...
So, once you have your beer of choice installed in the Wunderbar, it’s simply case of pulling pints. We could only find the Heineken 5-litre pressurised keg in local shops. Interestingly, this particular keg does not appear in the provided documentation, but does appear on the Wunderbar website, with brief instructions. Basically you can remove the supplied tube, maintain the rest of mechanism and attach the Wunderbar beer hose with a couple of pipe clips.
Close the lid and the Wunderbar does two things. The first is it begins refrigeration which is a large part of the device’s appeal. It is worth bearing in mind that if your kitchen gets warm then it will have to work harder to keep the beer cold – a garage or cool area of the house is more suitable. The target temperature seems to be about 6 degrees, but from room temperature, 21 degrees, it took a long time to get there, and the fans are fairly noisy.
The second thing that happens is the unit pumps in air to bring up the pressure. This doesn’t apply to pressurised kegs, but if using a draught keg then this is needed to pump the beer out. There is a switch under the lid to disable this pump when using a pressurised keg.
On the front of the unit is a temperature gauge which gives you the temperature of the beer, with a knob around the back that allows you to change this slightly. It is worth remembering that in a pressurised keg the beer is much more lively when warm, so you going to get pints of froth, so the manual recommends pre-cooling kegs. Certainly, if you bang in a warm keg at a party, your guests won’t be getting cool beer before it is empty.
A drip tray and foam ladle are supplied for slicing the head off your beer like a pro.
The Wunderbar Thermo can be a little daunting to begin with, but really it is very simple. The key thing is knowing which kegs are available, and hunting around the Internet reveals a great deal of information.
Considering that the pressurised keg is so common, you have to ask whether this device is a worthwhile investment? Yes, it has the bachelor pad factor and means you can always have beer on tap, but remember that 5-litres is only 8 pints, so probably won’t see you and friends through the night. It is also worth considering that the beer doesn’t last too long. After a few days it will start to spoil or go flat, but again, at only 8 pints, it probably won’t be in there for long.
So what of the cost of beer? Well, we paid £13 for 5 litres, which equates to £2.76 a litre, compared to about £2.12 a litre for cans of the same beer. Of course, you can probably pay much less for draught ales with some shopping around.
Does the novelty factor outweigh the costs? Perhaps. Everyone who saw the pump was impressed, but living with it you have to consider the space needed and the noise of the fans. If your bachelor pad is a bed-sit, then thumbs down. If you have a spare fridge in the garage and regularly have friends over or host parties, then the Wunderbar makes a great talking piece whilst providing chilled beer.
The Wunderbar was kindly supplied by Gadgetshop.com