Draft Beer: Commercial or Homebrew?
For any of you familiar with the history of beer, you know that the first containers made to properly transport the liquid were wooden kegs. The modern equivalent to deliver fresh brew is not much different than originally designed. The key factor is delivering the freshest possible product. That said, who wants a pint?
To pour draft beer at home, a few options exist. Do you buy a pre-built kegerator for 1/6 barrels or 1/2 barrels? Or do you homebrew and build an existing refrigerator or chest freezer into your dream draft system? Lets take a look at some options, and ways to tweak both!
These are available in 1/2 barrel (15.5 gal) or 1/6 barrel (5 gal) sizes. The size is determined by keg diameter. One bonus for anyone who purchases a commercial 1/2 barrel kegerator is you can convert the single faucet tower to a dual faucet tower, since you can squeeze two 1/6 barrels inside. Why would someone buy a unit like this? You plug it in, fill up the CO2 tank and are ready to enjoy draft beer.
A dual faucet tower in the wild. The kegerator and parts for this conversion can be bought locally at Beverage Factory, in the Miramar area. Committing to one 1/2 barrel of beer can be a stretch sometimes; adding variety spices things up. This is San Diego, arguably the capital of craft beer in the US! With so many great options, sticking to just one or two types of beer might be restrictive.
If you have a spare refrigerator around, you can add draft capability easily. The kit pictured above is sourced again from Beverage Factory for $165. The only other effort needed would be to fill the CO2 tank to power the system, and drill holes in the door or side for the faucet shanks to be mounted. Once that is done, you add kegs and pour away!
A peek inside a side by side fridge build. Still ample room for additional beverage storage and freezer use.
The business end: faucets and drip tray. Nice names of the beers on draft 🙂
For someone wanting more than two faucets, a chest freezer is the way to go. A thermostat upgrade is required to raise the temperature to the high 30’s from around 0F. The inside height is near perfect for kegs!
A chest setup with four faucets.
A chest setup with eight faucets, belonging to beer legend Ken Schmidt!
The only real maintenance for draft setups is to flush the lines between kegs. Cleaning systems are commercially available. With these, you simply add the caustic cleaning solution and water, and open the faucet until the solution has run through. Easy right?! Put on your next keg, and flush the line with a bit of beer, and you are ready to enjoy another tasty pint.
Not ready for a commitment? Try a rental!
Want to throw a great party, but don’t want the hassle of owning draft equipment? You can rent a kegerator or jockey box from Tap That! They will deliver and setup your rental, and can source kegs for you as well. If you like what you see, they also have a sales department to help you buy what is best for your situation.
Thanks to all of the friends who shared pictures for this post 🙂