Words and photo by Burt Hoovis
Keeping your favorite beverage close at hand for a day on the trail has always had its challenges. Luckily, the options are getting better and better. Recently, I had a chance to test out a one-gallon stainless steel minikeg and tap system with the memorable (and slightly dubious) name “ManCan.” The entire system is portable enough to take along to your next ride or weekend trip, without much more hassle than a 12-pack.
Here’s how it works: Similar to a growler, the ManCan minikeg is filled with beer from your local brewery or home tap system. With the screw cap installed, the beer will not lose carbonation when stored in a refrigerator or cooler. When it’s time to dispense, the stainless screw cap is replaced with a multiport cap and the regulator/tap attachments. After charging using a standard 16-gram non-threaded CO2 cartridge, pours are made like any other beer tap.
I’ve had my ManCan for a little over a month, and its performance in field tests (including a trial at Dirt Rag’s Dirt Fest) has been admirable. The “perfect pour” regulator system is engineered to dispense without the need for adjustment, using a simple on/off button. The manufacturer claims that pressurized beer can be stored for up to 30 days after installation of the tap (although I’ve not yet been able to confirm this for myself, for some reason). The system fits easily into a standard-size camp cooler, and clean up is a breeze, using either the provided sanitizer tabs (which are also available for purchase) or simple dish detergent and water.
For the numbers: the ManCan starts at $195 for the Flex version, which includes a 128-ounce stainless keg, fl ex tap/ regulator system and care kit. The upgraded Machismo version, constructed of higher quality 304-type stainless and including a bar-style tap, is available for a $70 upcharge. Most local breweries charge about $10 for a 64-ounce growler fill, and it’s going to take two to fill your can. This cost isn’t unreasonable considering a six-pack (72 ounces) of the typical specialty brew sells for $8 to $12. What’s more, the ManCan can be used for limited-production or home brews that aren’t available in cans or bottles. And the cool points you’ll get by pouring a real draft beer for your buddies after a ride? I’m not sure you can put a price on that.
Recently, the neck on my Perfect Pour regulator snapped during use, rendering it inoperable. I contacted the folks at ManCan via email, and they promptly sent me another, free of charge. What’s more, the replacement had an improved design, with a beefier attachment as a hedge against similar failures. Kudos to the folks at ManCan for their customer service and improvement of their product.