Home kegerator customers are a much-appreciated and growing segment of Spec’s customers. With the recent craft beer explosion, the trend towards home kegs is expected to continue. Been considering your own keg cooler? Here’s Spec’s comprehensive guide to home keg service!
Choosing a kegerator
When choosing a keg cooler there are two primary options: purpose-built kegerators and conversion kits for household refrigerators.
Pre-made keg boxes are generally more expensive, but have the aesthetic and functional advantages of being specifically designed for pouring beer. Most are tabletop height and feature a faucet tower for pouring beer into glasses on the flat top of the unit. They integrate easily into in home bars and take up relatively little space. Larger Spec’s locations will have home keg coolers you can check out. If you’re going for the look of a professional bar in your rec room, these are the preferred way to go.
Converted fridges look like the fridge from your kitchen with a beer faucet or two
coming out of the side. These conversions are generally cheaper, but they take much more space and can look strange if you can’t back them up against a wall. The advantage to the conversion kit is that all the hardware is completely removable; if the fridge itself breaks down, a used replacement is going to be a lot cheaper than the cost of repairing or replacing the purpose built unit. The other big upside here is that these fridges still have freezers. (Once your friends know you have beer on tap at your house, chances are pretty good that frozen snacks will come in handy.)
Virtually all North American kegs use the same standard coupler – so you’ll need an alternate if you’re a fan of imports. A little research (try this this coupler listing) will quickly help you sort out which style of coupler is compatible with your favorite brews.
Balancing your system for optimal pours and minimizing foam can be a bit tricky. One common mistake is to remove excess beer line between the coupler and the faucet. That extra length of tubing provides resistance so the beer comes out of the tap with less force than it has coming out of the keg. There are a staggering number of variables involved in balancing a draft system, but the first thing you should check is temperature. Your beer should be coming out somewhere around 36°F to 40°F. Anything approaching or exceeding 45°F will result in nothing but foam no matter what, so get that sorted out before you play with anything else. Beyond these two common problems, things can get complicated fast, so Spec’s recommends this helpful, if technical guide.
Once everything is pouring, you’re going to need some glassware. This device steps up your beer game, so of course you’ll want the right glasses for your brews! The experts in Spec’s beer department can help you pick out some appropriate glassware for your favorite styles. With proper glassware, your next backyard party will look like a real biergarten.
Cleaning your beer lines is important in any draft situation. A well-run bar will have its lines cleaned about once every two weeks. Since the funk that likes to live in draft systems can live inside kegs just as easily as lines and faucets, it’s important to make sure that when you do clean your lines, couplers and faucets, you have a fresh keg to hook up to your freshly cleaned system. Reinfection from a half-full keg is more common than you might think! Spec’s sells equipment and sanitizer for flushing your lines for optimal beer quality.
A great advantage of having draft beer available in your home is how easy cooking with beer becomes. You can pour exactly as much beer as a recipe requires. Knowing that you have a specific style of beer on hand is a great way to get motivated to seek out new, interesting recipes. Flemish-style beef stew made with your favorite beer is great, but it can be hard to pour your last bottle into your dinner instead of your glass. Fifteen-gallon kegs tend to eliminate that concern.
The beer staff at your local Spec’s loves beer, and they love talking about beer. Strike up a conversation next time you’re in and they’ll be more than happy to tell you all about the keg selection – down to what sizes and styles are available for pick-up or special order. Whatever your home keg needs, Spec’s will have expert advice and the selection to match!
Submitted by: Levi Castello in Austin