Draft Beer – Frequently Asked Questions

The world of draft beer is not as difficult as most people think. In fact, after the 15 – 20 minutes it takes to set up your system, it is very rewarding and produces a significant cost savings.

What size keg will fit into my refrigerator?
What size refrigerator should I buy?
How much beer is in a keg?
At what temperature should draft beer be kept?
How long will my draft beer stay fresh once I’ve tapped the keg?
How long does the 5 lb CO2 cylinder last?
Where can I get my CO2 tank filled?
Why is my beer coming out all foamy?
I’m planning on putting a draft beer tower on my bar while keeping the keg in a fridge nearby, is there anything I should be aware of?

Q: What size keg will fit into my refrigerator?
A: A standard US quarter barrel measures a height of 12-13″, a diameter of 16″ and weighs 80-85 pounds. A standard US half barrel measures a height of 23″, has a diameter of 16″ and weighs 160-180 pounds. European kegs vary in size, but are close to the above. The CO2 tank has a diameter of about 6″ and may be kept in the refrigerator or outside of it. We suggest that before you purchase a fridge, go to your local beer retailer and ask for any empty keg (They will usually charge you a $10.00 deposit). Then put the keg inside the fridge you plan to purchase to make sure that the fridge is big enough. There should be a little bit of room around the sides for air circulation. Also leave about 6″-8″ above the keg for the keg coupler to fit. Back to Top

Q: What size refrigerator should I buy?
A: That’s a tough one for us to answer. It depends upon your space requirements. We can’t recommend any specific size or model because there are so many out there. If you’re trying to find a fridge that will fit under your bar, that can be very difficult because most are not large enough to hold a keg. Also keep in mind that many compact fridges have a vegetable bin in the bottom. Right behind that is usually the compressor. You will probably need to build some sort of shelf over the compressor. This is one of the reasons that many compact fridges will not hold a keg. Also make sure that your beer line will not be passing through a freezer compartment. The beer could freeze or cause excess foam. Back to Top

Q: How much beer is in a keg?
A: Breweries no longer make full or whole kegs any more. They stopped about 35 years ago because they were just too damn heavy. A ½ keg is the largest available, it holds 15.5 gallons of beer which is equivalent to about 7 cases of beer. A ¼ keg holds 7.75 gallons of beer or 3½ cases of beer. A beerball holds 5 gallons of beer which is equal to 2¼ cases of beer. There are some 5 gallon mini-kegs (1/6 barrel) now available. Back to Top

Q: At what temperature should draft beer be kept?
A: Draft beer is not pasteurized, so it must be kept cold — preferably 38-40ºF. Temperatures above 45º may cause the beer to become wild, turn sour & cloudy. Back to Top

Q: How long will my draft beer stay fresh once I have tapped the keg?
A: Once it’s tapped, draft beer should be consumed within 20-30 days otherwise it tends to lose its fresh brewery taste and aroma. (Assuming it is kept at approx. 38º & between 12 & 15 psi.). Craft beers (micro brews) sometimes have a shorter shelf life. Back to Top

Q: How long does the 5 lb. CO2 cylinder last?
A: 5 pounds of CO2 should dispense approx. 5-7 half barrels. Make sure that all air line connections are good and tight. CO2 can leak very easily. It’s best to leave the tank outside of the fridge, if possible. You will get more air out of the tank if it’s kept at a warmer temperature. Back to Top

Q: Where can I get my CO2 tank filled?
A: Look in your local phone book’s yellow pages under the heading “Gas.” There should be several gas distributors in your area. Call a few of them up and ask if they fill small tanks with CO2 (sometimes called Beer Gas.) Also, call some local fire extinguisher suppliers and welding suppliers, they sometimes fill CO2 tanks. To fill a 5 pound CO2 tank usually costs between $7.00 and $11.00, depending on where you’re standing. Back to Top

Q: Why is my beer coming out all foamy?
A: Foamy beer can be caused by many things. Warm spots in the beer line, dirty beer lines, twists or kinks in beer line. Warm beer will cause foamy beer. Also, let the keg settle for 2-3 hours before tapping it. Too much carbonation in the keg will cause foamy beer. Back to Top

Q: I’m planning on putting a draft beer tower on my bar and keep the keg in a refrigerator nearby, is there anything I should be aware of?
A: Yes!! Any exposed beer lines may cause foamy beer. In other words, if the beer line running from the fridge to your beer tower is not refrigerated, you will probably encounter some foam. There are commercial ways of actually refrigerating the beer lines, but they are VERY expensive. Some things that you can do to minimize the foamy beer problem are: Minimize the distance of exposed beer line – the shorter the better. Wrap all the exposed beer line in some sort of thick foam tubing. Home Depot has it and it’s not expensive at all. Remember to plug the hole in your refrigerator that the beer line comes out of. That spray foam insulation stuff works great. All this will help minimize foamy beer. Back to Top

No Comments

Be the first to leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your name is required.
Comment field is required.