How to Choose the Best Beer Keg Dispenser

How do you choose the best beer keg dispenser in 2024? What properties and features should the best beer keg dispenser have to suit your needs? Read our guide and make an informed choice.

How to Choose the Best Beer Keg DispenserAh, the great British pastime of enjoying a pint with friends. But in an age where we increasingly value home conveniences, many beer aficionados are turning their lounges and gardens into miniature pubs by getting themselves a beer keg dispenser. This allows them to serve and enjoy a perfectly chilled pint right at home.

Choosing a beer keg dispenser isn’t just about picking the first model you lay eyes on; it’s about understanding your requirements and matching them with the best option available.

Let’s delve into the intricacies of selecting the ideal dispenser for your sudsy delights.

How Do You Choose the Best Beer Keg Dispenser

To make an informed decision about which beer keg dispenser (kegerator) suits your needs, it’s fundamental to grasp the foundational aspects of these devices. This involves understanding the core components, their function, and how they collaboratively ensure your pint is served in prime condition.

What is a Beer Keg Dispenser?

A kegerator is, essentially, a fusion of a keg and a refrigerator. Its primary role is to keep the beer keg cool whilst also allowing for the smooth dispensation of beer when you fancy a drink. The device maintains the beer at a consistent temperature and carbonation level, providing an experience akin to being served a draft beer at a pub.

Core Components

  • Keg: A barrel or container, usually made of stainless steel or aluminium, which holds the beer. Kegs come in various sizes, from 5-litre mini kegs to larger 50-litre variants.
  • Coupler: This device connects the gas and beer lines to the keg, allowing CO2 in and letting beer out. Different beers require distinct couplers, so it’s essential to ensure compatibility.
  • CO2 Tank and Regulator: The CO2 tank provides carbon dioxide, which pushes beer out of the keg and maintains its carbonation. The regulator manages the CO2 pressure going into the keg.
  • Beer and Gas Lines: Tubes or hoses that carry the beer from the keg to the faucet and the CO2 from the tank to the keg.
  • Faucet (Tap): The point of dispensation where the beer pours out. Kegerators can have single or multiple taps, depending on design and preference.
  • Thermostat: Ensures that the interior remains at the desired temperature.

Draught vs Bottled Beer

While bottled beer has its charm, draught beer is generally favoured for several reasons:

  • Freshness: Draught beer is often fresher as it’s stored in larger quantities and is typically consumed faster than bottled variants.
  • Taste: The absence of light exposure in kegs means that the beer is less likely to have ‘skunky’ off-flavours, which can occur in bottled beer when exposed to light.
  • Environmental Impact: Kegs are reusable, leading to less waste compared to bottles.

Size and Capacity of the Best Beer Keg Dispenser

The size and capacity of a beer keg dispenser play a pivotal role in determining the drinking experience it offers.

Beer keg cooler and dispenser for home useNot only does it influence where the kegerator can be placed, but it also dictates the volume of beer that can be stored and served. To truly appreciate the nuances, let’s break down the subject further.

Understanding Keg Sizes:

Beer kegs come in a plethora of sizes to cater to different needs, but the following are the most common:

  • Mini Keg: Holding about 5 litres, these are perfect for intimate gatherings or personal consumption over a short period.
  • Cornelius Keg (Cornie): Originally used for soda, these kegs have a capacity of 19 litres, making them popular among home brewers.
  • Quarter Barrel (Pony Keg): Containing about 30 litres, this size is a favourite for small parties.
  • Half Barrel: The most recognised size in pubs and taverns, these kegs hold around 50 litres.

Space Requirements

Each keg size not only dictates the volume of beer but also the physical space it occupies. When considering the size of a kegerator:

  • Ensure there’s room for the CO2 tank, which may be mounted externally in some models.
  • Think about ventilation. Like all refrigeration units, kegerators generate heat and need adequate ventilation.
  • Remember that larger units require more electricity, which might impact your energy bills.

Serving Frequency vs. Freshness

Your drinking habits can guide the best keg size for you. If you only have an occasional pint, a smaller keg might be ideal to ensure you’re always drinking fresh beer. Larger kegs are more suitable for regular drinkers or those who host frequent gatherings.

Expansion Potential

Opting for a larger kegerator might make sense if you plan to upscale your home brewing operations in the future or if you anticipate hosting bigger gatherings. Some enthusiasts start with smaller models and find themselves upgrading sooner than they expected.

Portability and Storage

Larger kegerators can be a challenge to move around. If you’re short on space or wish to transport your unit between locations (for instance, between a house and a holiday cabin), a smaller, more portable model might be more practical.

Aesthetics and Design

Beyond functionality, the size and design of a kegerator can influence the aesthetics of the room it’s placed in. Larger units can serve as a focal point in a space, while smaller models can be more discreet. Choose a size that complements your interior decor and fits seamlessly with other appliances.

Multiple Keg Systems

Some larger kegerators can hold multiple smaller kegs. This is a boon for those who love variety, as it allows you to serve different beers simultaneously.

Conclusion

The size and capacity of a beer keg dispenser go beyond mere volume measurements. They influence the beer’s freshness, the utility of the dispenser, and even the ambiance of a room.

By weighing these factors, you’ll be better equipped to choose a kegerator that not only meets your beer consumption needs but also enhances your living space and brewing journey. Cheers to making an informed choice!

Beer Types and Number of Taps

Beer, as any aficionado will tell you, is more than just a beverage; it’s an experience.

Dispense any type of beer with a home beer keg dispenserThe universe of beer is expansive, with each variety presenting its unique profile in terms of flavour, aroma, and mouthfeel. In parallel, the world of kegerators or beer dispensers is equally diverse. Let’s explore how the type of beer you prefer intertwines with the number of taps on a kegerator.

The Spectrum of Beer Types

Broadly speaking, beers can be categorised into several styles:

  • Ales: These are brewed from malted barley using top-fermenting brewers’ yeast. Examples include pale ales, stouts, and wheat beers.
  • Lagers: Brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast at cooler temperatures, lagers include pilsners, bocks, and more.
  • Speciality and Craft Beers: These often include unique ingredients or brewing methods, giving rise to a plethora of sub-varieties.
  • Ciders: Though not a beer, many beer dispensers also accommodate ciders, which are fermented from apple juice.

Coupler Compatibility

The type of beer often dictates the kind of coupler required. Different beer varieties and brands might need specific couplers. Ensure your kegerator is compatible or adaptable to the beer type you favour. For instance:

  • Type A coupler: Often used for German beers.
  • Type D coupler: Common for American ales and lagers.
  • Type S coupler: Found with many craft beers.

The Significance of Multiple Taps

A kegerator’s tap is more than just a functional component—it’s a gateway to the beer experience. The number of taps can significantly influence this experience.

  • Single Tap: It’s a straightforward choice for purists or those dedicated to one beer type. It serves one beer at a time, ensuring consistency in flavour and temperature.
  • Multiple Taps: A multi-tap system can be a revelation for enthusiasts who appreciate variety:
    • Diverse Selection: Host a mini beer festival at home! Offer guests a range from a light lager to a dark stout, or perhaps an experimental craft beer.
    • Pairing with Food: Different beers pair well with various cuisines. A multi-tap system allows you to match your beer with your meal.
    • Craft Beer Exploration: For home brewers or those who love craft beers, multiple taps enable experimentation with different batches or styles.

Temperature Considerations

Different beers have optimal serving temperatures. While lagers are best served crisp and cold, ales might require a slightly warmer environment. If you’re serving multiple beer types, ensure your kegerator can maintain varied temperatures or consider dedicating each tap to beers with similar temperature needs.

Rotation and Freshness

Multiple taps provide the flexibility of rotating beer types. For instance, once a keg of stout is finished, you might switch to an IPA. However, ensure that beer doesn’t sit too long, as freshness can be compromised over time.

Conclusion

Your beer preference, be it a singular dedication or a passion for variety, is integral to your kegerator choice. The interplay between the beer type and the number of taps accentuates the drinking experience.

As with all good things in life, it’s about finding the right balance. Whether you’re a lager loyalist or an ale adventurer, there’s a kegerator configuration awaiting to pour you the perfect pint.

Temperature Control: The Heart of Freshness

Temperature doesn’t just affect the coldness of your beer; it’s central to its overall quality and taste profile.

a. Optimal Serving Temperatures:

  • Lagers: Typically served between 3-7°C, they’re enjoyed best when crisp and cool.
  • Ales: These often come into their own at slightly warmer temperatures, usually between 7-13°C.
  • Stouts and Porters: They can be served even warmer, around 10-15°C.

b. Preservation of Flavours:

Most popular beer keg dispenser for your homeExcessive cold can dull the flavours of certain beers, while overly warm temperatures can accelerate the beer’s ageing process, leading to off-flavours.

c. Advanced Temperature Control Features:

  • Digital Thermostats: Provide precise control over the internal temperature, allowing users to set it down to the degree.
  • Dual Zone Kegerators: Perfect for enthusiasts who enjoy different types of beer, these allow for two distinct temperature zones within the same unit.

CO2 Tank: The Pulse of Carbonation

Carbonation brings beer to life, and CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the heart of this process. Managing CO2 is about more than just keeping the beer fizzy; it’s about ensuring consistent quality and taste.

Proper Carbonation Levels

  • Balanced CO2: An ideal CO2 level prevents both over-carbonation (resulting in excessively foamy beer) and under-carbonation (leading to flat beer).
  • Regulation: A good regulator is essential. It controls the pressure from the CO2 tank, ensuring the beer is dispensed at the correct carbonation level.

CO2 Tank Sizes and Duration

  • Tank Sizes: Common sizes range from 2.5 pounds to 20 pounds, with larger tanks lasting longer but also taking up more space.
  • Duration: The longevity of a CO2 tank depends on the keg size and usage frequency. For instance, a 5-pound CO2 tank can typically dispense 5 to 7 half-barrel kegs.

CO2 Purity

Always ensure you’re using food-grade CO2. Impurities can not only harm your health but can also introduce off-flavours into the beer.

External vs Internal Tanks

While many kegerators house the CO2 tank internally, some designs have external mounts, freeing up more space for kegs inside but requiring additional external space.

The Symbiosis of Temperature and CO2

The relationship between temperature and CO2 is symbiotic. Beer absorbs CO2 more efficiently at lower temperatures. Therefore, a cooler keg requires less CO2 pressure to achieve the desired carbonation level.

The balance between temperature control and CO2 management in a beer keg dispenser is delicate, yet it’s this harmony that results in the perfect pint. By understanding and respecting these aspects, both casual drinkers and beer connoisseurs can elevate their home draft beer experience, ensuring that each pour is as delightful as it was intended to be by the brewer.

Build Quality

Build quality is a critical aspect that can determine the longevity, performance, and aesthetic appeal of the kegerator. High-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship are often evident at first glance and touch.

  1. Materials: Stainless steel is a popular choice for many premium beer keg dispensers. Not only does it provide a sleek, modern appearance, but it is also resistant to corrosion, ensuring the unit remains free from rust and maintains its polished look over the years. Some models may use other metals or even high-grade plastics, but the key is to ensure the materials are durable and suitable for prolonged exposure to moisture, given the kegerator’s refrigeration function.
  2. Seals and Insulation: The efficiency of a kegerator significantly depends on its insulation. A well-insulated unit maintains the desired temperature more effectively, leading to energy savings. Furthermore, the quality of seals around the door or lid is paramount. A poor seal can allow cold air to escape, making the refrigeration unit work harder and potentially shortening its lifespan.
  3. Hardware: Components like taps, handles, and connectors should feel sturdy. Loose or wobbly parts not only diminish the user experience but can also lead to issues like leaks, which can be both messy and wasteful.

Portability

While some beer enthusiasts might set up their kegerator in a dedicated spot, for others, the ability to move the unit around can be of utmost importance.

  1. Size and Weight: Naturally, smaller kegerators will be easier to move, but even larger units can be portable if designed with this in mind. The overall weight of the kegerator plays a role, but so does its distribution. A well-balanced unit is easier to handle and less likely to tip during relocation.
  2. Wheels or Casters: Some kegerators come equipped with wheels or casters. This feature can be invaluable for those who like to move their unit, whether it’s for cleaning, rearranging furniture, or transporting the kegerator to another location. It’s worth checking if the wheels are lockable to ensure stability when the kegerator is in use.
  3. Handles: Ergonomically designed handles can make a world of difference when it comes to moving the kegerator. They should offer a firm grip and be positioned in a way that allows for comfortable lifting or pushing.

Additional Features of the Best Beer Keg Dispenser

When diving into the realm of beer keg dispensers, there’s more to consider than just the foundational aspects like size, build quality, and portability.

Complete solution for fresh cold beer from the beer keg dispenserModern kegerators come packed with a plethora of additional features, designed to enhance the user experience and add layers of convenience and sophistication. Let’s explore some of these add-ons that might influence your choice of a dispenser.

Digital Displays and Controls

Many contemporary kegerators incorporate digital displays and controls. These are not merely for show. A digital interface allows users to easily monitor and adjust the internal temperature with precision. Being able to tweak the temperature by a degree can be vital, especially for craft beer enthusiasts who understand that different brews have optimal serving temperatures. Furthermore, such interfaces might also display other essential information like CO2 levels or even maintenance alerts.

Safety Locks

For households with children or in settings where unauthorised access to the beer might be a concern, safety locks are a boon. This feature ensures that the kegerator can only be accessed by someone with the key or knowledge of the lock mechanism. It provides peace of mind, especially when the kegerator is in a communal space.

Interior Lighting

At first glance, interior lighting might seem like a mere aesthetic feature, adding a touch of ambiance when one opens the kegerator. However, its utility goes beyond that. Good lighting inside the unit can help users easily check beer levels in clear kegs or inspect any components without having to pull the keg out.

Drip Trays

Anyone who’s poured beer knows that spills can and do happen. Integrated drip trays are thus a practical feature. They catch any accidental overflows or drips, preventing messy puddles and potential damage to the flooring. For ease of maintenance, look for removable trays that can be cleaned separately.

Adjustable Shelving

For those who might occasionally want to use their kegerator as a regular refrigerator or wish to store additional items like beer cans, bottles, or even snacks, adjustable shelving is invaluable. This feature allows users to customise the internal space of the dispenser according to their needs.

Dual Tap Systems and Beyond

While dual-tap systems are becoming increasingly common, especially for those who enjoy variety, some modern kegerators offer even more taps. This expansion is a dream for those hosting larger gatherings or wanting to have multiple beer styles on the go simultaneously.

In essence, while the core function of a beer keg dispenser remains consistent, the additional features available in today’s market can significantly elevate the user experience.

As with all purchases, it’s about finding the right balance between what’s nice to have and what’s essential for your individual needs. The added bells and whistles can indeed make your beer-drinking sessions more delightful, provided they align with your usage patterns and preferences.

Conclusion

Choosing the best beer keg dispenser is akin to choosing a new member for your family (albeit a metallic, beer-dispensing one). It’s an investment in countless delightful evenings and gatherings. Remember, it’s not just about the beer but the experience of savouring it. So, weigh your options, list down your priorities, and may your pints always be perfectly chilled! Cheers!

Recommended Beer Keg Dispensers

Taking into account the advice above, analysing buyer opinions, and the available offerings, we recommend the following models of Beer Keg Dispensers that offer excellent value for money.

Recommended Product No. 1
PerfectDraft Phillips Machine Home Beer Cooler & Dispenser System HD 3720/25 and Stella Artois Keg
  • The PerfectDraft Phillips machine is a counter-top machine that chills six-litre kegs of beer down to a precise 3°C.
  • This package includes 1 PerfectDraft Phillips beer dispenser and 1 6 litre keg of Stella Artois beer, Alc 5% Vol.
  • Fresh, cold draught beer at home: the PerfectDraft Philips is a beer dispensing system designed for you to enjoy a glass of self-poured beer in the comfort of your home;
Recommended Product No. 2
PerfectDraft Phillips Machine Home Beer Cooler and Dispenser System HD 3720/25 and Corona Extra Keg
  • The PerfectDraft Phillips machine is a counter-top machine that chills six-litre kegs of beer down to a precise 3°C. This package includes 1 PerfectDraft beer dispenser and 1 6 litre keg of Corona Extra beer, Alc 5% Vol. There are more than 50 of your favourite beer brands available throughout the year, from crisp lagers to Belgian classics, hoppy ales to refreshing wheat beers. The drinks stay fresh for 30 days.
  • Fresh, cold draught beer at home: the Philips PerfectDraft is a beer dispensing system designed for you to enjoy a glass of self-poured beer in the comfort of your home
  • For the freshest possible taste: LCD display with temperature and volume indication shows when your beer is at the target temperature of 3°C (12-hour cooling period that is guaranteed stable performance in temperatures up to 31°C, beer stays fresh and bubble for up to 30 days)
Recommended Product No. 3
Baridi 5L Beer Draught Dispenser Tap Machine with Integrated Cooling for 5L Kegs - DH49
  • Perfectly Cooled - 5L kegs of draft beer kept fresh for up to 30 days with our simple to use pump. A wide range of beers are available in 5L kegs.
  • Thermoelectric Technology - Chills beer to as low as 4°C and has a handy precise LED temperature gauge along with being quiet to use.
  • Universal Fitting - Beer dispenser tap for most 5L mini beer kegs keeping costs low and operating using standard 16g CO2 canisters (supplied with 3 x 16g CO2 canisters).
SaleRecommended Product No. 4
Philips PerfectDraft Beer Keg Machine, Home Beer Draft System with LCD Display, 30 days Fresh & 3°C...
289 Reviews
Philips PerfectDraft Beer Keg Machine, Home Beer Draft System with LCD Display, 30 days Fresh & 3°C...
  • Fresh, cold draught beer at home: the Philips PerfectDraft is a beer dispensing system specially designed so you can enjoy a glass of self-poured beer in the comfort of your home
  • For the freshest possible taste: the temperature indicator shows when your beer is at the optimal coolness level of 3°C - LCD display with temperature, volume and freshness indication
  • Your favourite draft beer: available for a range of popular beer brands
Recommended Product No. 5
Ice Master SDA2179 Beer Pump for 5L Keg Cooling Draft Dispenser Perfect for Home Garden Bar Man Cave...
  • PERFECTLY CHILLED: IceMaster delivers your choice of beverage, chilled at the perfect temperature ,so you can enjoy that perfect Pint in the comfort of your own home
  • UNIVERSAL 5L KEGS: The Icemaster dispenser tap for all 5l mini beer keg dispensers, using standard 16g CO2 cartridge's (supplied with 3 x CO2 canisters).
  • INBUILT COOLING - Keeps your beer cool up to as low as 2°c, perfect for outdoor parties in the summer months
Recommended Product No. 6
Baridi 6L Beer Keg Dispenser Tap with Electric Compressor and Integrated Cooling, No Gas Cartridges...
  • Perfectly Cooled - 6L kegs of draft beer with a stay fresh 30 day digital countdown.
  • Thermoelectric Technology - Chills beer to as low as 3°C and has a handy LED temperature gauge along with being quiet to use.
  • Universal Fitting - Beer dispenser tap for standard 6L mini beer kegs, operated by air pump, so no need for gas cylinders.
SaleRecommended Product No. 8
Klarstein Skal Beer Dispenser - Thermoelectic Beer Cooler, Beer Machine, Beer Pump, 5 Litre Kegs,...
  • FRESH ENJOYMENT: Fresh beer directly from the keg: the Klarstein Skal beer keg dispensing system makes it possible. Regardless of which brand or style you prefer, Klarstein Skal quenches thirsty mouths with delicious perfect draft keg golden beer.
  • COOLING REFRIGERATION: Skal beer cooler features a thermorelectrical cooling unit, which works quietly while the beer is cooled down to temperatures of 2 - 12 ° C. Perfect draft machine with LED display provides information on the temperature.
  • POWERFUL PRESSURE: Thanks to the gas cartridge system, beer can always be dispensed with the right pressure. Three CO2 cartridges are included with the delivery, making our mini beer keg dispensers a conveniant solution for every occasion.

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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