The commercial kegerator has become a very useful way for bars and bar owners to offer draft beer options in a confined space. Grocery stores have also adopted the commercial kegerator to offer in store growler fill stations.
Bars and bar owners have used these kegerators to serve clients draft beer without installing a large cooler walk-ins. While offering a variety of great tasting beers.
I’m going to cover all that you’ll need to know about the commercial kegerator. The capability, and what's needed to operate them. So you get one badass beer system. Here we go.
Commercial Kegerator Accessories
Kegerators come in all sorts of sizes from a single half-barrel kegerator up to full-sized kegerators that hold 5 ½ barrels inside. It really depends on what the owner of a bar or establishment is looking to accomplish. For the most part commercial kegerators can cover draft beer dispensing needs. Let’s talk about some of the equipment needed for your kegerator to operate effectively.
C02 or Nitrogen Source
Typically these kegerators will have a C02 cylinder around a 20 lb. That can be kept inside depending on space of the kegerator unit.
What I’ve done on previous installs, is keep the gas cylinders in a cabinet next to the kegerator. Next, I would drill a hole through the side of the kegerator. Then fish a high pressure air-line to the secondary regulators mounted inside of the kegerator.
This works great because the sourced C02 or Nitrogen is close, and this leaves some extra room inside the kegerator. Now I only do this on multiple keg kegerators. Like the 2-4 Tap and Full-sized kegerator.
A single keg kegerator will have a small C02 cylinder inside the unit or mounted the backside.
Next, you’re going to need secondary regulators to control the right applied pressure for each keg of draft beer. On most Ales and Lagers C02 12 psi of applied pressure will be just fine.
If you are dispensing other beers like Guinness or Nitrogenated beers. Nitrogen will need to be supplied and used with a nitrogen primary regulator coming of the cylinder.
Some kegerators come with pre-mounted air manifolds, and some other equipment inside the unit. However, I would highly recommend getting rid of that equipment.
Stainless Steel Couplers
This is a must in any draft beer system. Stainless Steel couplers are the best couplers you can use. The utility they have and the longevity of the couplers make them a must in any beer system. Plus you won’t have to worry about chrome plated chips floating around in a pint glass...I’ve seen this happen, and its a shocking site. The other thing about stainless steel couplers they won't mess with the integrity of the draft beer.
Draft Beer Towers
The type of beer tower will depend on the size of the kegerator and the amount of kegs inside the unit. Typically you will have column towers with one faucet or tap. These normally come with the commercial kegerator. So if it’s a 2 keg kegerator it will have 2 column towers. When I am talking about kegs I am assuming we are using ½ barrel kegs.
However, if the ½ barrels are replaced by ⅙ barrels a couple brand column tower can be replaced by a 10 or 12 brand tower. This is because ⅙ barrels leave a smaller footprint than ½ barrel kegs. Like the picture above.
Ultimately, the type of tower will depend on how many kegs the unit is expecting to hold. Now these towers are air-cooled. Meaning air passes through to keep the beer tower cold.
Options can be simple looking towers to customized pipe beer towers. It all depends on the aesthetic vibe the establishment is going for.
Drip Tray and Drain for Unit
Most kegerators will come with a built-in drip tray below the beer tower. This makes things nice. Some of the drip drays are surface mount which can be removed and dumped in a sink. Other drip trays will be plumbed up inside the unit and drain into a bucket inside the kegerator. They will also have an insert that is easy to take out and wash.
IF there’s a floor sink close by the drain line will exit the back of the unit and drain into that floor sink. However, sometimes having an onsite drain hooked up is hard or not going to happen. This is why the drain into a bucket inside the unit is a common method.
115 V Power For Unit
Most of the commercial kegerators come pre-built ready for 115 V electrical outlet. And can be modified for 208 V if need be.
Commercial Kegerator Setups
Single Keg Kegerator
Your typical kegerator most think of. Kegerators have the C02 tank inside of them and come on casters if needed. Also made with front ventilation so they can be placed under a counter for a very clean look. Comes with a column tower and one beer faucet.
2 Tap Kegerator
The 2 keg kegerator measures out at 5’ in length with 2 doors. The compressor on the unit is located on the left hand sid. This keeps the unit cool and has a digital thermostat that’s easy to adjust and set. On this set up you will also find two single column towers over a drip tray. This is pretty standard for a 2 keg setup. But remember if you change the kegs from half barrels to sixth barrels you can get a total of 8 1/6 barrel kegs in this unit. Something to keep in mind.
3 Tap Kegerator
This kegerator has a length of 69”. A little bit bigger than a 2 tap kegerator. This kegerator will hold up to 3 ½ barrels. Dual doors on the front of the unit to open. Has Front breathing ventilator so it can be stored underneath a backbar for a very professional look. Shipped with two column towers. One one brand tower and one two brand tower.
However the option to add a custom tower is very possible. Has a glass rinser built into this one, and for bigger towers a custom drip tray could be manufactured. Can’t forget the glass rinser which is in the center of the drip tray. A very solid Kegerator to work with.
4 Tap Kegerator
A 4 tap kegerator is very similar to the 3 tap kegerator above with the only exception that it is a little bit bigger unit and can hold one more half-barrel.
Full Size Kegerator
The largest kegerator available in the market place. The Full size is approximately 94” in length. Has 3 Doors to open.Can fit 5 ½ barrels inside the unit. This full-sized kegerator is the model I’ve used to put in growler stations in grocery stores, and also give bars a good lineup of beers if space is limited.
It’s a fully self-contained unit, all it needs is a 115 V outlet to power the cooling fan inside and the refrigeration system.
On the back end of these units there’s an inlet for water. This is for the glass rinser. Normally, I would put a water regulator to adjust the pressure to 15-20 psi.
Higher water pressure will result in the water blasting out of the rinser and damaging it. There’s also an outlet for the drain tubing if there’s a floor drain close by. If not some establishments use small drain bucket inside the units and empty the buckets daily.
Kegerator Bar Style Options
Kegerators come in two options a full stainless option or a stainless top with black vinyl sides. The stainless option is very slick looking, but also matches backbars that have stainless equipment inside their bar. Stainless is also a good look for a stand alone set-up.
Another professional look for bar owners. Another benefit to this option is the price. These kegerators are a little less than the all stainless option. Really, the only difference between the two is the stainless. This kegerator is also functions the same way as the above option, and is a clean looking system.
Maintaining the kegerator is relatively easy. One of the main things to keep in mind is cleaning the draft beer lines. This needs to be done every 2 weeks. A static clean would work well for these types of units. Flush the water out. Fill lines with caustic solution and let sit for 20 mins. Rinse beer cleaning solution out of system. Re-tap kegs for beer.
Cleaning of the beer faucets and couplers is also very important. When the lines are cleaned I would also clean the draft beer equipment. For more information and in depth cleaning read this post on beer line cleaning
It’s also smart to flush out the drain lines from time to time so there isn’t any stagnant beer holding up in there.
Commercial Kegerator Warranty
These kegerators have a pretty good warranty. 3 years for parts and labor. With an additional 2 years for the compressor. Ultimately when you are purchasing a kegerator this is something to really think about. The fact that your commercial kegerator has this warranty is nice.
In closing the commercial kegerator is a great piece of equipment to use in tight spots. Also, gives owners the opportunity to sell a great variety of draft beer to their consumers. Today’s commercial kegerators are self-containing dispensing systems that are bad ass.
Full disclosure, I was talking about Micro Matic kegerators throughout this article. Two reasons I use their equipment. I personally use their equipment to install commercial projects in the field and I’m an affiliate . However, a lot of this information can apply to other units out there. My goal was to share the most important information with you.