Delicious draught delight

I had some of my family from Britain in town last weekend. My cousin brought some English ale with him, a beer called Boddingtons Pub Ale - or “Boddy’s,” as it’s nicknamed. It’s a delicious ale - a bit lighter than most ales, but very hoppy and refreshing.

The best part of the beer, though, is its fantastic head. Boddington bills itself as the “Cream of Manchester,” and its creamy heads are the reason why.

Beer sold in cans can’t produce the head that you get in a mug that’s been drawn from a tap at your favorite watering hole. That’s because heads produced by CO2 fizzle quickly (think Diet Coke, here). But Boddington’s (along with a few other British beers) include the “Draughtflow System,” an engineering marvel which ensures that one has a proper British head for his beer.

Mmm… look at that firm head. This picture was taken several minutes after pouring, and you could still float a quarter 20 pence coin on it if you wanted to.

I was curious to see how this “Draughtflow System” works, so I cut the can apart.

Rattling around inside the can was a plastic “widget.”

The widget is a nitrogen-infused plastic bubble that floats inside the pressurized can. When the can is opened, the CO2 inside the ale is released, the pressure inside the can drops, and the widget releases its nitrogen in a small explosion. And it turns out that CO2 + nitrogen makes a firm, creamy, silky head; which aerates the ale to perfection. And while CO2 bubbles are going up in your glass, the nitrogen bubbles are going down. Just like when your barkeep pulls a fresh mug for you.

Turns out you can buy Boddy’s here in the States. I definitely recommend it, if not for the taste factor, at least for the gimmick factor the widget will give you. Think of how cool you’ll sound at your next football party, explaining the concepts of pressurized nitrogen and CO2 to a wowed audience.

It’s an Ale, so serve it warm, say around room temperature (“British room temp,” that is, where “warm” = ~65 degrees).

You engineering geeks might be interested in the widget’s patent.

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3 Responses to “Delicious draught delight”

  • Many thanks, indeed, especially for your interpretation of the patent! I was confronted by the Widget for the first time last week when I too opened a can of wonderful Boddington’s and saw the amazing head of foam, heard rattling about inside the can, noticed the difference in size to the normal 500 cc cans, cut the thing open and came to much the same conclusion you have drawn, the thing fills with gas during the filling process then releases it spontaneously when pressure is suddenly reduced. Considered it might have an internal overpressure and a membrane shear-balanced at the pressure differential of internal filling pressure and its own internal pressure, but decided that was far too much of an iffy thing, so reached the conclusions you have. Many thanks, indeed! By the way, a German pub landlord, for whom I was once standing in as a waiter, once clued me up, when we suddenly ranout of draught, on how to make bottled beer taste like draught : DON’T POUR IT IN THE USUAL GENTLE, NON-FOAMING WAY! : pour it in a trickle from a height of around 8-12 inches and it tastes (almost) like draught!

  • Wow… thanks for the tip, George. I’ll be “trickling” my bottled beer from now on.

    BTW: The widget is in almost all British beers, now, including Guinness draughts. Wonder if it will catch on among the finer domestic beers soon.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Hi Monkey,

    I came across this article while doing a research on trademarks and patents. I realized that on the photo you posted, the Boddingtons can is not the same as the one we have here in Canada, although we do have the cans with the widget inside. The thing is that instead of being written “Draughflow System” in the red circle, here, it’s written “Smooth and Creamy”.

    Can you tell me if your photo was taken in the UK or in the USA?

    Do you have an idea of the reason why we would not have the same here in Canada ?

    Thank you for your answer, I think it will be very helpfull.



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