One of the best ways to enjoy an ice cold beer is straight from the keg. Keg beer is popular at outside gatherings, picnics and tailgating events. One of the most important things to consider when planning on serving beer from a keg is a way to keep it cold. Here are some simple ways to create your own keg cooler to keep the beer cold from the minute it is tapped to when the keg finally is drained.
Facts about Keg Beer
From the time a brewery fills a keg with beer to the time you actually buy it from the store, it is constantly kept cold. Because the beer in a keg, or draught beer as it is commonly referred to, is never pasteurized, it must be kept cold to preserve its freshness and taste. The ideal temperature for storing and serving draught beer is 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
The other thing that must be taken into consideration is the size and weight of a keg. The standard 1/2 keg of beer is 23.3 inches tall, 17 inches wide and weighs 140 to 170 pounds. Obviously, this is not something you can simply throw in your average size cooler. If size and weight are a concern, there are smaller kegs; the 1/4 keg, which is about half as tall, but the same width; and a 1/6 keg, which is just as tall and less than half as wide. Whatever size keg you choose, it has to stay cold at all times.
A Manual Keg Cooler
If you plan on using a keg for a one-day event, find a container big enough to store it in. One of the best containers you can buy is a Rubbermaid 32-gallon commercial-grade plastic container with a lid. This is tall enough and wide enough to hold the entire keg and still be able to close the lid. If you cannot find a Rubbermaid, then any 32-gallon tub should suffice. Put in the keg, and then add ice all around the sides and especially on top of the keg. Tightly close the lid, and wrap the whole thing in several blankets to provide insulation. To tap the keg, cut a hole in the center of the lid wide enough for the bottom of the tap to fit through and attach to the keg. Frequently check the ice, and if it is extremely hot, cut a small hole near the bottom of the container so the water can drain. As long as you keep a fair amount of ice in the container, the beer will stay cold.
A Refrigerated Keg Cooler
If you are looking to store and dispense draught beer on a regular basis, the easiest and least expensive way is to build a kegerator. A kegerator is simply an old or new refrigerator that is large enough to hold a keg and has been retrofitted with the proper equipment to dispense draught beer. The equipment consists of a keg connector, rubber beer line, a spigot or tap attached to a metal shank, a CO2 tank with a pressure gauge and and air line. What makes creating a kegerator fairly easy is once you have the refrigerator, you can buy a conversion kit that contains everything you need along with detailed instructions on how to install it. Micromatic is a company that specializes in draught dispensing equipment and sells these kits (see References).
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