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November 15, 2020

The Beer Tap Tower: A Beginners Guide and How To

The beer tap tower, also known as a draft beer tower, draught beer tower, beer tower, beer tower dispenser and draft tower. This center piece of equipment in a draft beer system, is where beer pours. The tap tower can come in a variety of different shapes, set-ups and number of taps.

I’m going to go over all that you will need to know about a draft beer tower and the important things to understand. After this post you will also have a great overview of what type of tower is best in a commercial or private setting.

Here we go...

Beer Tap Tower...2 Types

We can break down beer towers into two different types from the beer faucet tower manufacturers. The first is Glycol cooled and Air cooled beer towers. Now, if you want to get specific we could include a third type of tower and that is the wall mount tower. 

The wall-mount tower is the stainless steel backsplash with beer faucets coming out of the beer cooler you see at a lot of pubs or bars. Here's a picture of one below. The stainless backsplash covers the tile backing. Which a beer cooler is behind.

Picture of a wall mount tower

Wall Mount Beer Tower-Direct Draw

For this article though...we will focus on glycol cooled towers and air-cooled towers.

Glycol Cooled Beer Tower

This means that the beer tower is chilled with food-grade glycol. Glycol is a food-grade anti-freeze keeping the beer cold in a beer trunk line. It also keeps the beer cold inside the draft beer tower. Glycol typically runs through copper lines inside a beer tower and cools beer shanks inside the tower. These towers are then filled with foam or insulation to keep everything nice and cold. Beer towers are typically found on remote systems or where beer pours somewhere else on property, instead of pouring off a beer cooler like the picture above.

Air Cooled Beer Tower

These towers are usually found on direct-draw beer systems.

Image showing a direct draw beer system

These towers are usually hollow inside and cold air blows on the inside of the them to keep the towers chilled. Air-cooled towers are found on kegerators, and beer walk-in coolers. These towers usually have a small fan that blows the cool air into them. Keeping them at temperature.

Picture of a Kegerator

Commercial Kegerator with Air-Cooled Towers above

Glycol Cooled Towers vs Air Cooled Towers

So which is better between the two? Well it depends on the type of system that is used on property. I’ve always preferred using Glycol cooled towers because I know that they stay at a consistent temperature. Also, the temperature can be controlled, and changed via the glycol chiller.

From my experience installing beer systems, as a draft technician on commercial properties. Glycol-chilled towers are more consistent. Because they are part of a remote beer system. Also, known as Long Draw Beer System.

Air cooled towers are obviously great for kegerators, and other direct draw systems. These type of towers  are used in personal settings more frequently too. 

You can recognize them with the 1 or 2 brand beer tap on a cylinder tower sitting on top of a kegerator.

However, there's something about glycol cooled towers that ensure every part of the tower is getting cold. So If I am to pick between the two. I will choose a Glycol chilled tower over an air cooled tower any day.

Beer Tower Break Down

Whether they are air-cooled or glycol chilled beer towers. Both consist of a beer faucetbeer shank, hard pipe stainless or vinyl lines inside the tower. 

Glycol towers will have hard pipe copper lines for glycol and cold blocks surrounding each faucet inside the tower that are also mixed in with the beer lines. Cold blocks are designed to keep the beer shanks and faucets cold.

The most important thing to remember, regardless of the type of beer tower. Is that all the beer dispensing parts need to be stainless. This ensures that beer will be delivered as it’s meant to be.

Stainless parts insure no impurities which you might find in chrome plated parts, or cheaper beer dispensing equipment. These impurities can cause beer to have an off taste. Diminishing the experience for the customer.

Beer Tower Styles

This is always fun to talk about. The style of draft beer towers. Let me say there really are an infinite number of styles to choose from in the industry. From 4 tap tower manufacturers, dual tap beer tower, to whatever you can imagine.

What I enjoy doing is creating and designing custom beer towers that are unique to breweries or tap houses around the country, but that’s me.

Draft beer towers can come in material made from stainless steel, chrome plated brass, copper, ceramic you name it. Some popular types are T towers, bridge towers and pipe towers.

Beer tap towers can also come in an assortment of beer taps such as 4 tap beer tower, 8 tap beer tower, 12 tap beer tower or more. It really depends on what the owner is looking to do. I have seen some beer towers with as many as 40 taps on a tower. Again it really just depends.

There are also a bunch of over the shelf towers that work really well too.

Here are some pictures of the towers that are popular or seen often at pubs as well as some custom looking towers.

  • Beer Pipe Tower

Beet Tap Tower-Pipe Tower

  • Bridge Tower

Bridge Tower- Beer Tap Tower

  • T-Tower

Picture of a Beer Tap Tower

Glycol Chilled Beer Tap Tower

  • Floating Pipe Tower

Beer Tap Tower Floating Tower

  • Custom Beer Towers

Picture of a Beer Tower

  • Beer Tap Wall

Picture of a wall mount beer system

  • Kegerator Tower

Picture of a Commercial Kegerator

Full Size Kegerator

Draft Beer Tower Pricing

Pricing on draft beer towers can range from a hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Typically the more taps you have and glycol chilled towers will be leaning towards the more expensive side of things. Simply because there's more equipment involved.

Air-cooled towers aren’t as expensive as glycol chilled towers typically. However when custom beer towers are made they can be expensive. Again, it just depends on the type of tower. If it's a glycol chilled or air-cooled tower. The style of the tower. How many beer taps are needed. Is the tower going to be pouring specialized products like wine or Nitrogenated beers (Guinness Beer)?

These are things to think of when you're purchasing a beer tower. And each tower will range in style, taps and material. You can see why it's hard to price custom draft beer towers. Simple draft beer towers can be found on the shelf too. Some companies like Micromatic, Perlick, UBC, Banner Equipment. Will have over the shelf towers that can work in establishments. 

Just like the many different styles of beers out there, there are many uniquely styled beer towers, or custom designed beer towers.

One thing to keep in mind even if a beer tower is a little more expensive. It’s better to have a beer system that dispenses beer at the right temperature and is built to maximize keg yield. Be aware it’s important not to cut corners on this equipment in a beer system.

Beer Tower Summary

Remember there are two types of beer towers. Glycol chilled beer towers and air-cooled beer towers. Between the two Glycol Chilled towers tend to stay on temperature more consistently and they make sure every tap is chilled.

Beer tap towers come in a plethora of styles and shapes as we talked about above. The most important part to remember is to use stainless steel parts with your towers. This includes the beer faucet, beer shank and stainless tubbing inside the tower. 

For more information check out the Draft Beer Dispense blog, and if you have any further questions reach out.


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About the author

I've been a draft beer technician for over 10 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. 


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