The next generation of products is breathing new life into kegs and they couldn't be farther from previous incarnations of bargain buckets of booze.

Marks & Spencer made its first move into the keg format to tie in with this year's World Cup. It launched a French lager and a Leicester bitter in kegs, and merchandised them alongside England-branded inflatable coolers and glasses.

Meanwhile, Heineken relaunched its DraughtKeg in May, first launched in 2007, with an on-pack temperature indicator. Molson Coors joined the party this summer with Home Draught, the £8m launch of 5-litre kegs of Carling, Coors Light and Grolsch. Retailer feedback to the format has been great, claims sales director John Heynen, despite concerns from buyers that kegs take up too much space and don't generate a fast enough rate of sale.

"There's definitely an opportunity to develop the off-trade experience," says AB InBev boss Stuart MacFarlane. "The barrier to entry is what premium consumers are willing to pay for the draught experience as opposed to cans and bottles and also whether they have room in their fridge to chill it."

Heineken head of customer marketing Shaun Heyes argues the keg format is ideally suited to premium beers as they are bought for social occasions.

Marston's, meanwhile, is hopeful its Fast Cask can give ale drinkers the pub experience. It has been hailed by some as the biggest-ever innovation in cask beer, but Marston's sales and marketing director James Coyle says it may be a while before it catches on in the UK.

"There might not be a huge opportunity to begin with," he admits. "But in America these things are massive. During an event like the World Cup they can really come into their own."

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