Eliminate the Beer Run: The Advantages of Home Draft Beer Systems

Having your very own home draft system is a dream come true for almost every beer geek. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a cold, draft beer in the comfort of your living room or backyard. Forget the hassle of opening beer bottles and the excess waste they create. Owning your own kegerator is the perfect set-up that every beer geek needs.

Types of Home Draft Beer Systems

There are several home draft beer systems you can choose from.  Before going out and buying the first kegerator you find, make sure you know the differences between the two most common types of kegerators so you know which one will be best for you.

Mini Kegerators

Mini Draft Beer System

The mini kegerator is the smallest kegerator that you will find. It’s designed to tap and serve a 5-liter keg, but only contains approximately 10½ pints. Because of its smaller size, it’s perfect for those that don’t drink beer very often. Additionally, if you don’t have much space in your kitchen or man-cave, then a mini draft beer system may be the best fit for you, because it can fit easily on a countertop or corner table.

Another great benefit of having a mini-kegerator, is how easy it is to find 5-liter kegs of beer. Many grocery stores carry them along with their six-packs and cases of beer. Specialty craft beer and liquor stores also typically carry a wide variety of 5-liter kegs.

Full Size Kegerators

Full Size Draft Beer System

The most common type of kegerator is the full size system. This is your typical draft beer system that you envision when you think of a kegerator. There are many kinds of full-size kegerators available to you. The two most common are the single-tap and the dual-tap.

Just like the draft beer system you see at your favorite bar, this system works the exact same way. You can fit many different size kegs into this larger single tap system, including half barrel kegs, pony kegs and slim quarter kegs. Each size keg will serve a different amount of beer, so be sure to know how much each size keg holds before you go out and buy more beer than you need. If you aren’t sure about how many beers are in a keg, it would be wise to check out our handy keg comparison chart.

Full size kegerators also work better at keeping your kegs at your chosen temperature. Make sure you get a home draft system that has foam insulation or refrigeration within the tower, as this helps keep the beer inside the lines stay at the right temperature before it’s poured.

Cleaning Your Draft System

Like anything you buy for your home, a home draft beer system does require a little bit of maintenance. Draft beer is ideally dispensed through a six-foot line that connects the keg and the faucet. It’s important to clean all of the components of your home kegerator regularly. Not only does this help protect your investment in the equipment, but it also ensures that you have the freshest, best-tasting beer.

Cleaning the various components of your system is easy and doesn’t take much time. We would recommend buying a cleaning kit because it will make the process much easier for you, but it is possible to clean your kegerator without a kit. For more information, please refer to our previous write-up that details how to clean your kegerator.

Don’t Forget About Glassware

Now that you have your home draft system set up and your beer is ready to be poured. We would also recommend getting a nice set of glassware. There are many different types of beer glasses available, so learn about the differences and buy a nice set. You’d be surprised how much better your beer tastes and smells when you drink it out of the right style of glass.

If you really want to go the extra mile with your beer glasses, then purchase a special kind of detergent designed for glassware. Your typical dish washing detergents can sometimes leave a slight film on the glass. You may not notice if this film affects the taste of your beverages, but it may cause the CO2 in your beer to break out and lead to it tasting somewhat flat.

Recommended Reading:

3 Things to Remember When Storing Draft Beer

Draft Beer

As we all probably know, draft beer is a brew that is dispensed from a cask or, in modern times, a kegerator. Because yeast and carbon dioxide influence its characteristics, knowing the right temperature and pressure plays a crucial role in the overall quality and flavor of your beer. Casks and kegs mediate these variables and cause the resulting draft beer to differ from beer consumed from a can or bottle.

Certainly, there are a number of qualifications that must be met for a beer to qualify as draft beer, and the success of each batch depends on the quality of the keg. Here’s three things to take into account when you buy and store your draught beer.

Temperature

Temperature, for example, is a crucial determinant of the taste of draft beer. The majority of the time, the beer inside your keg has not been pasteurized, so it’s important to keep it cold. From the moment you get it from the distributor until it’s empty, it’s important to maintain the proper temperature or you will sacrifice the quality of the beer.

When its temperature is to high, foam dominates the beverage because the higher temperature liberates carbon dioxide too quickly. This will cause your beer to foam more than it should, leading to a loss in flavor. Conversely, draft beer that is too cold retains carbonation, causing the beer to taste flat because the true flavor cannot escape.

The optimal temperature to store and serve your draft beer is right at 38°, especially for ales. You can go slightly lower without sacrificing the quality of the beer, but it’s not recommended to go above that temperature. Any reputable kegerator system should be able to maintain the proper temperatures in order to avoid these problems.

Pressure

Furthermore, a great draft beer depends on pressure, just as much as it does temperature. If the beer is kept at a pressure that is too high or too low, the over all taste and characteristics of the beer will be detrimentally altered. If the pressure is too low, the first few pours coming out of the keg will have excessive amounts of foam, and then gradually the rest of the pours will produce beer that tastes flat. On the flip side, too much pressure will cause the beer to come out of the keg at a faster pace than normal, and eventually produce beer that has too much foam.

Generally, the pressure regulator on your kegerator should stay at a consistent 10-12 PSI for American ales and lagers. Unfortunately, the proper amount of pressure may differ slightly between the various brands, styles and types of beer. Because of this, it would be wise for you to call the distributor from which you got your keg and ask what they would recommend.

Keg of Beer

Let It Settle Before Tapping

When you get your keg, try to be gentle with it. Try to limit how much you shake or roll it around. It’s always wise to let it sit idle for a few hours before tapping it. We all know what happens when you shake a can of beer and then immediately open it. The same principles apply to a keg, as it does a can.

Once you get in your keg set up in your kegerator, we would recommend letting it sit for at least an hour or two before drinking from it. This should be plenty of time to let it settle a bit. However, depending on how long it took you to get from the distributor to the kegerator, you may need to give it more time to chill a little long to reach the proper temperatures.

Takeaways

When it comes to draft beer, the flavor profile of beer is very much dependent on temperature and pressure. These two factors work together to retain the beer’s intended taste and aroma. Although there is an optimal temperature range that retains the qualities of draft beer, this may vary somewhat when you take the type of brew into account. It’s important to find the optimal temperature and pressure for your beer of choice prior to serving, and the distributor of that beer may prove to be an invaluable source of information.

What storage tips for draft beer would you add to this list? We’d like to hear your successes and failures in the comments below?

Where to Buy a Kegerator

Question: Where can I buy a home kegerator?

Home Kegerator

So you’re ready to make the leap into the draft beer world. Congratulations! Chances are, there are probably a few places near you that sell full-size kegerators. Check out your local home improvement store, but don’t expect them to have any actually in stock. There might be a display model for you to look at, but they will probably have to place the order for you and then have the unit delivered to your home.

Also, don’t expect them to have a wide selection of kegerators available. At best, the home improvement store will have maybe 2 models. You’re better off shopping online for the best home kegerator. You’ll have a larger selection to browse, you’ll be able to read reviews and, depending on where you purchase from, you will be able to have your questions answered by a kegerator expert. Also, the kegerator won’t take any longer to arrive than it would if you ordered it at the home improvement store.

Your local homebrew shop, if you’re lucky enough to have one, is a great place to visit and ask questions about what kind of kegerator you should purchase, but they probably don’t sell any pre-built kegerators in store. If you want to build your own kegerator though, then you should be able to find kegerator parts there.

Here is some additional reading to help you get started with your kegerator shopping: