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May 12, 2021

A Beer Tap System…What You Need To Know Before You Purchase

When you walk into a bar, what do you see? You might notice that there are many people ordering drinks at the bar. What is it about bars that make them so appealing? The answer is beer! Bars typically have different types of beer on tap and serve an assortment of other products. Like draft wine, cider, and kombucha. As more and more people discover how much fun it can be to drink beer with friends, some decide to start their own business. In this article, we will go over important things someone needs to know before purchasing a beer tap system!

What Type of Beer System Will You Use?


Direct Draw System:

Image showing a direct draw beer system

A direct draw system is the most common beer tap system that you will find in a bar. This is because it has many different benefits and can be changed to suit any business needs. When this type of system is used, all kegs are stored inside a beer cooler. This is also one of the most popular beer systems to work with. It's simple, effective, what I would recommend if I was to open up a bar or restaurant. This is also one of the least expensive beer systems, and one where your beer waste will be minimal when it comes to cleaning the beer lines.

Remote Beer System:

Picture of a Glycol Beer System

This beer tap system is great for those who have limited space. It is also perfect for people who want to have a bar in one area and the kegs stored somewhere else. This system works by using a beer trunk line that connects the beer tower to where kegs are being stored, which can be anywhere on the property. Remember beer can be dispensed up to 800'. The downside with this type of beer system is that it's usually more expensive overall. However, it allows the owner to dispense beer anywhere and as much as they want.

How Many Beers Do You Want to Serve?

Picture of a custom beer tower

This is one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing a beer tap system. How many beers do I want on tap? This is an essential question because it will determine how much space in your bar, and storage capacity for kegs that you'll need in your beer cooler.

What is a good number of beers to serve? That's the real question. Establishments that offer 20 beers. Offer a good choice of options. When you have less than 20 beers on tap, it's usually because the establishment has a very specific beer menu.

There are many factors that go into determining how much beer to serve. The number of seats, the size of your establishment, the type of food you're serving and most importantly the size of your beer cooler. However, a good rule of thumb is about 20 beers. This will offer your customers a great selection of beers, and not too many where kegs are sitting in your cooler.

Are You Going to Serve Products Other Than Beer?

What I mean is... are you going to serve nitro beers, wine, ciders, kombucha? These products will require some adjustments in the beer cooler. For example, if you want to serve Nitro beers such as Guinness the set-up will be different than your standard beer setup. You'll be using Nitro Gas for designated regulators. How about Cider? A good option for customers, however, once you designate a cider line on your system that line will need to stay a cider. By mixing ciders and beers you'll cross-contaminate the lines. Resulting in beer or cider that doesn't taste great. These are things to keep in mind when you are setting up your tap list.

You're Going to Need to Clean Your Beer Lines Every 2 Weeks

picture of beer cleaning

Some owners of bars and restaurants are surprised by this. Part of owning a beer system is maintaining it and that means cleaning it every couple of weeks. This ensures the beer being poured from the beer taps is nice and clean. Another benefit of cleaning your beer lines is it will actually help the beer pour better. This is not something to cut corners on because if you neglect your beer system it will result in pour tasting beer and cost you money.

Only Use Stainless Steel Dispensing Equipment

Standard Beer Faucet

There are all kinds of materials that can be used with beer dispensing equipment. I'll save you the frustration and spending money on inferior products by sticking with stainless steel. This goes for all parts that are in contact with beer. Equipment such as beer couplers, beer shanks, faucets, and hose fittings. Stainless is more sanitary and the equipment will last a lot longer. So do yourself a favor and stick with all stainless steel dispensing equipment.

Will You Use Keg Racks or Keg Stackers to Maximize Cooler Space?

Picture of a 1/2 barrel keg stacker

If you're going to offer a lot of different beers, then keg racks are the way to go.  If you'll be working out of a small cooler or serving 20 Brands or less I would recommend Keg Stackers. Keg Stackers allow owners to tap 2 kegs in the place of one, and are ideal for smaller spaces where keg racks would take up too much space. Keg stackers are also a much cheaper alternative to keg racks.

Summary

If you're considering a direct draw or remote system for your bar, restaurant, or brewery. We hope this information has helped you make the decision.

Once you have chosen which type of beer dispensing equipment is best for your establishment and determined how many beers will be served. It's important to choose what kind of cooler setup will work best in your space.

Keg stackers are great if there's a small area, and the floor space needs to be maximized. On the other hand, keg racks offer more storage capacity than stackers but require more floor space so they may be better suited for larger cooler areas. The choice ultimately comes down to what is best for the property.

If you need some ideas with dispensing equipment head over to my recommended products page and take a look. I also have more information about beer dispensing equipment on my blog, and if you have any further questions please reach out.

Cheers!

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About the author

I've been a draft beer technician for 9 years  building, designing, and installing large commercial beer systems. Through the years I've worked on breweries, tap houses, casinos and stadiums around the country.

I enjoy sharing my passion for draft beer dispensing by talking about it, recommending dispensing equipment I've used in commercial installs, or private settings. 

Cheers!

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