What is a kegerator?

What is a kegerator?

A kegerator is a hybrid name that is used to link two words into a very handy combination between a keg and a refrigerator.  In this case, it would mix of the enjoyment of a refreshingly ice cold and perfectly poured beer on tap.

The Joy of drinking in a pub or bar

One of the joys of going to a pub or bar is that one can experience the pleasure of having a draught beer. Draught beer is served from a keg that is located under the counter or in the basement of the pub.  Many beer enthusiasts believe that draught beer has a much better flavour than that which one gets from a bottle or can. We wholeheartedly agree with this stance.

The Kegerator combines the joys of draught beer with the on-tap availability of your favourite beverage in your own home.  They come in a variety of sizes and appearances ranging from the small counter-top and larger, under counter variety to the commercially available, very large kegerators.

For safety reasons, they can generally not be built in because of the ventilation requirements of the unit but, they are attractive and certainly a talking point of the room.

When ordering a draft beer in a pub or restaurant, you are usually assured of consistency of flavour, appearance temperature and carbonation of the beer.  For commercial reasons the quality and freshness of the beer must be consistent.  The Kegerator can achieve this consistency and freshness for every beer that is tapped from the system.

One of the reasons for this consistency is the carbon dioxide used to keep the beer pressurized.  This pressurization not only delivers the perfect glass of beer, every time, it also keeps all the inside workings of the kegerator under the same pressure making sure that consistent quality is maintained for a long time.

There are several manufacturers of Kegerators and these deliver units of varying quality.  There are even kits available that would allow the DIY enthusiast to build their own “homemade” Kegerator.  The possible difficulty with this is that it could lead to a unit that is not operating optimally.

Kegerator Components

Stainless steel keg

Filled with refreshing draft beer, kegs are designed to keep the beer cold and help it to avoid contamination. Kegs can be used for a variety of activities: recreation, commercial use, parties, and much more.

CO2 cylinder

One of the most important parts of the kegerator, the CO2 tank holds the CO2 in waiting for it to regulate the expulsion of beer from the keg. One pound of compressed CO2 can deliver a standard keg of liquid through a kegerator, so you will need to refill the tank periodically. You can do this at any local supplier or hardware store.

CO2 pressure regulator, with inlet and outlet pressure gauges

Kegerator regulators allow you to view the CO2 pressure amount, and this item generally lets you know when the CO2 tank is almost empty. Remember to periodically check this gauge to see when its time to refill or reorder a CO2 tank.

Keg Coupler (Also known as Keg Tap)

A keg coupler is essentially a keg tap that is mounted onto the keg and powered by a compressed gas line. The American Sankey coupler (also known as a System D coupler) is the coupler used by most U.S. brewing companies for their beer kegs, and is secured by twisting them into place like a screw.

Beer Line

Beer line is nothing more than a piece of dense 3/16-inch inner diameter, food-grade plastic tubing that connects the keg coupler to the rear of the shank. Not surprisingly, it’s where the beer runs through. Beer line is purchased by the foot or you can opt for a pre-made jumper that comes complete with the hex nut connectors needed to secure the beer line to the shank and coupler.

Air Line

Air line is very similar to beer line, but features a 5/16-inch inner diameter. It connects the keg coupler to the regulator for easy air flow that helps power your dispensing.

Tower

One of the first things you will see when you look at your kegerator is the beer tower. This tube holds the beer lines that run from the faucet to the keg, and it is generally tall enough to fit most types of beer glasses, including pint glasses, under the faucet.

Drip tray

The drip tray helps collect the small amount of runoff beer from overfilled glasses, leaking faucets, and spills. Located directly under the faucet, this tray helps to clean up most messes so you don’t have to.

Shank

This very important kegerator part connects the beer line to the faucet. The shank is a chrome-plated brass tube with external threading. It runs through the hole in a draft tower (or in the side of your fridge if you built your own kegerator) where the faucet screws onto the front end and the beer line attaches to the back end with a hose barb.The standard North American shank is a ⅞-inch x 14 straight pipe thread and will work with all North American faucets. If you’re using equipment from outside North America, you’ll need to source a specialty shank.

Faucet

The beer flows out from the faucet, a spigot-like tap, which is the port of exit from the kegerator to your glass. The faucet can easily become the dirtiest part of the kegerator, so it is recommended that you do regular routine cleaning on the faucet.

Faucet handle

This is the handle that you pull on to release the beer from the tap. There are a wide variety of tap handles, from regular to customizable, that you can choose from

Keg Coupler

A crucial part of any draft beer system is the keg coupler, the part inside the kegerator that actually taps the keg. Different types of kegs require different keg couplers, so you need to consider what you plan on serving and purchase the coupler that is right for you.

  • System D (U.S. Sankey) — standard for North American beer
  • System S (European Sankey) — most common for European beer (Beck’s, Heineken, Amstel, Stella Artois)
  • System U — used for stout and ale by a few breweries in UK/Ireland (Guinness, Harp)
  • System G — used by some breweries in UK/Ireland, and in the United States by Anchor Brewing
  • System A — chiefly used by breweries in Germany (Warsteiner, Paulaner, Hacker Pschorr)
  • System M — used by some German breweries (Schneider, Einbecker)
  • Pin and ball lock home brew keg taps — designed to work with Cornelius kegs.

The D, S, U and G couplers are secured to the keg by twisting them in place (like a screw). The A System coupler is often called a “German Slider” because, unlike the other couplers, it slides in place and can be secured at any angle. The M-coupler also slides onto the keg, but it taps different brands than the German Slider. Home brew couplers are different in that they have a separate component for the gas in and the liquid out.

Some commercial kegerators are the

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