Beer widget revolution out of gas

The revolution in home beer-drinking may be about to enter a new phase after the country's largest independent brewer yesterday dropped the so-called widget from its cans.

The plastic device was introduced first by Guinness seven years ago to give canned beer a draught ale taste but Britain's sixth-biggest brewer, Charles Wells, maker of Bombardier, Eagle and Fargo ales, said it had dumped the widget after customers complained it had masked the taste of their beer.

"There were no problems with the actual widget ... [but] the consensus was that for premium beers with a higher alcohol content the widget masks the flavour," said its head of marketing Nigel McNally.

"One drinker said the widget knocked the corners off the beer and he wanted the corners back."

Charles Wells now plans to intorduce a "nitrogen-flush" system, which works by injecting "friendly" nitrogen into the can on opening.

"It's similar in principle to the widget but it does not mask the flavour of the beer," said Mr McNally.

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