Jockey Box Tips from a KegWorks Customer

Jockey Box Coil Cooler

I recently had an email conversation with one of our customers that I thought was quite helpful, in regards to using jockey boxes for dispensing kegged beer. The conversation with Robert L. began like this:

Just wanted to share:

I found that using a jockey box allows me to keep my kegs at room temperature & still serve ice cold beer. This, in turn, allows me to use & keep partial kegs at room temperature, thus allowing a “library” of beers that I can pull out any time I like (as opposed to chilling down a whole keg & having to keep it refrigerated.

My question followed:

“Did he ever find his beer to be foamy, without having the keg iced down, or did the jockey box coil cool it enough to keep consistently good pours?” I’ve spoken to Pete about the jockey box quite a bit, and had always been under the impression that the keg had to be kept iced down and wicked cold.

Robert got back to me rather quickly, and I couldn’t wait to share with the rest of you, in case his jockey box experience might come in handy for the rest of you out there:

The first few glasses seem to require a little extra settling time, but once things equilibrate & the pressure gets set right, it seems to work pretty well.

We started with the aluminum plate (stainless steel tubing inside a cast aluminum plate), in a large ice chest with two taps. This works exceedingly well & the beer comes out ice cold. This is the one we use at parties, and the beer seems to remain consistently cold despite almost continuous pouring. Although it works better, its size (& weight) make it less convenient for small gatherings, or small tastings.

For smaller gatherings I got your steel coil inside a smaller 8 qt cylindrical cooler, and set it up with a tap on the front & a wingnut -> tubing -> cornelius keg fitting on the other. 7 lbs of ice fit nicely, and it worked very well for a BBQ with 4 people. Also, in small gatherings, the beer usually gets a chance to sit inside the coils, cooling between pours, and I imagine this helps. I have only used it once so far (new acquisition), so time will tell as I use other batches.

As a side note, I have a pressure gauge (& a relief valve) attached to a Cornelius Ball lock connecter, which makes it easy to test & adjust the pressure of my kegs. I have found that after carbonation, keeping them equilibrated to 15 PSI seems to keep the right amount of carbonation in them, and minimizes foam formation when dispensing. Also, turning down the pressure to 10-15 PSI when dispensing lowers foam formation, but naturally, slows down the pour rate.

I cannot thank Robert enough for sharing his own experience with jockey box equipment, and how he changes his methods depending on party size. If anyone else out there has more to add, please let me know.

Cheers!

[techtags:JOCKEY BOXES, DRAFT BEER TIPS, JOCKEY BOX, COIL COOLER]

4 Comments

  • Peter August 18, 2010 @ 5:04pm

    While I agree that the way in which Robert L. dispenses his kegs with a jockey box set up can work, and I have seen similar set-ups and enjoyed beers from them, this is not for everyone. Based on what he writes I am assuming Robert has 3 things going for him most jockey box users do not:

    1. He is serving homebrew with a higher hops content than most commercial beer. Hops act as natural anti-microbial preservative agent keeping beer fresher longer.
    2. He is dispensing from corny kegs that allow him to attach a valve that reads internal keg pressure and adjust regulator and keg pressure accordingly.
    3. Robert is a true draft beer geek with a deep understanding of the art and science behind dispensing draft beer. Kudos to you Robert for this accomplishment!

    Most people dispensing beer at single day event have none of the above advantages Robert has at his disposal and should keep their kegs cold if they want to ensure that they have a steady flow of clear cold beer.

    The NUMBER ONE foam causing problem I encounter when trouble shooting and fixing draft systems be it a kegerator, a long draw walk-in cooler set-up like you find in most bars or a jockey box is warm kegs. If you want to eliminate this issue and help insure you are not serving your guests glasses of beer; not glasses of foam, keep your kegs on ice. Most events where jockey boxes are used (weddings, graduations, brew fests, summer picnics) are one shot events where if get is wrong you do not have second chance to make your beer drinking guests happy with their thirsts satisfied. There are plenty of things that can go wrong at your special event, but foamy beer from warm kegs should not be one of them.

  • rnzone April 29, 2016 @ 1:15am

    Does this thread still work? I think i have some observations to contribute.

  • beerguy June 14, 2016 @ 2:08pm

    @rnzone …no, this thread doesn’t work anymore.

  • mark taylor July 18, 2017 @ 11:42am

    A keg carbonated at a pressure of 15lbs at room temperature (lets say 65-70f) is flat beer. This is why no foam. To be properly carbonated to a volume of say 2.4v the pressure needs to be around 26 lbs. at 70f. I’ve found that cold kegs are important for a good flow (no foam) and proper carbonation level

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