Salter Professional EK4919 Beer Dispenser review: better than the pub?

We test the Salter Professional EK4919 Beer Dispenser to see if it can do better than your local. Read now for the verdict.

Salter Beer Dispenser on a kitchen benchtop

by Chris Williams |

Accumulating a collection of appliances that mimic the tasks we often go out for, bread makers, air fryers, soup makers, waffle makers, teriyaki grills – are very popular. Or at least, they have been recently.

Given the circumstances since 2020, the idea of kitting out your kitchen with all manner of appliances has been an appealing one. However, now that everyone is out and about again, the difference between useful appliances and gimmicks has become stark.

Home beer dispensers are certainly an interesting case. In establishing which camp they sit in, we’ve been testing this Salter model. It’s quite an investment and it, therefore, needs to be quite impressive to produce a good return.

Specs
Dimensions (WxHxD) 41.4 x 43 x 27.2cm
Keg compatibility 5 litre universal and pre-carbonated
Power 65W
Pros Cons
• Sound build quality • Unhelpful instructions
• Looks cool • It’s easier to go to the pub

Build quality and setup

Salter Beer Dispenser handle
©What's The Best

• Good build quality
• Poor instructions

As a luxury appliance, it’s likely you’ll have a specific place in mind for a beer dispenser. That’s good because an item that houses five-litre beer kegs and has an onboard chilling system to cool, it's quite large. That being said, the Salter EK4919 model is well made and adorns a benchtop quite nicely.

However, we found setting up this beer dispenser to be a bit of a faff, compounded by the unhelpful instructions. The dispenser needs to be cleaned and prepped before you can pop in a keg, and given this is an unfamiliar appliance to most, some detailed and illustrated instructions are needed. But all you get is a small, quick start guide pamphlet.

Salter CO2 cartridge
©What's The Best

To address this, Salter has recently uploaded tutorial videos to clearly show how to prep the machine and load in a keg, and thank goodness it has. Cleaning the pipes involves squeezing the water through them with a tiny hand-powered pump bottle. Having achieved that and the keg installed, you also need to fit a CO2 cartridge. These are required on the Salter Beer Dispenser to help give the flow a reasonable amount of pressure. Fitting a cartridge to the inside of the lid needs to be done carefully otherwise the gas can escape and the cartridge is wasted.

After finally having the beer dispenser set up, we were curious to see how it would perform. Frankly, after the installation, we had high expectations.

Performance and useability

Salter Beer Dispenser CO2 dial
©What's The Best

• Cold, delicious beer on tap when set correctly
• Frustratingly fiddy
• Needs cleaning every five litres

This beer dispenser looks impressive and is capable of drawing pints like a pro. The handle is comfortable and sturdy, but the pressure, while fine, isn’t that much better than if you just use a keg’s own gravity-powered tap, despite the CO2 cartridges.

You also need to keep adjusting the CO2 knob. It’s a case of fine-tuning until you get the correct amount of CO2 flow. It somewhat takes the spontaneity out of the experience and becomes a slight irritation. If this were the only way to get beer, it would be worth the persistence. But given that you can keep bottles (or cans) in the fridge ready to go, go to your local, or just use a keg on its own, this extra fluffing around with the beer dispenser quickly becomes unappealing.

Once you’ve gone through a keg, you clean the system again. It’s a case of pumping water through the beer dispensing tap like you did when setting the beer dispenser up the first time. All of this is a lot of effort for some beer that is readily available by other means.

Salter’s beer dispenser cools the beer in addition to dispensing it. That is very handy but it also means this appliance demands 65 Watts of power. In effect, you are running a second, albeit smaller, fridge, and is that really something anyone wants to be doing in the midst of record high energy prices?

Price and competition

Using Salter Beer Dispenser
©What's The Best

At this price, the Salter Beer Dispenser is quite an investment and one that doesn’t produce particularly healthy returns. It’s not just the cost to buy but also the cost to run it. It’s not going to be as expensive as running a hot tub, but drawing 65 Watts, it's going to nibble into your power bill.

There are other beer dispenser models out there and most are basically the same, asking similar money to the Salter. The PerfectDraft from Philips makes a compelling case for itself if you’re absolutely set on having a home beer dispenser. It doesn’t use CO2 cartridges, removing a substantial amount of the faff. Other than that, it’s pretty similar to the Salter model.

Verdict

We’ve reviewed some of Salter’s appliances before such as a bread maker and soup maker and they’ve performed very well. Therefore, this is not a negative review of Salter as a brand.

Rather, the idea of a home beer dispenser like this isn’t a particularly compelling one. It’s more complicated than one expects it to be; it’s also expensive, and it makes little sense to put a keg with its own dispenser... in a dispenser.

If you like having a cold beer, stick with bottles or cans, or a keg on its own if you’re entertaining, or just go to the pub. It’s easier and more pleasant.

Score 3/5

Pros Cons
• Sound build quality • Unhelpful instructions
• Looks cool • It’s easier to go to the pub

More items to consider

Chris Williams is a is a contributor to What's The Best. He mainly writes for CAR and Parkers.

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