Draft Beer at Home

Late last year, we finally got our home draft system set up. It was a project we had talked about for a long time but had a hard time getting done. There was so much to learn, so many decisions to make, and so many components to get a hold of. Or at least that's how it seemed, and so the project drug on.

As it turned out, it was a relatively simple project once we got past the learning phase, and has had an enormous impact on the number of recyclable cans and bottles our household generates. The two mesh bags that we use to store our returnables can hold a few months' worth now and our trips to the depot are much faster and easier.

With a draft beer system, or "Kegerator", you can enjoy cold, locally-brewed beer on tap, at home. No bottles, no cans, no plastic rings, caps, or cardboard boxes. Many people set theirs up in mini-fridges, and some people get really fancy with nice taps mounted on the top. We went the simple route.

There are a lot of resources online about Kegerators and the various options you have in setting them up, so I will just get in to the basics here. For a basic draft system that can dispense domestic brewery  kegs, these are the basic parts you will need.

**I do not get any kind of commission from Ontario Beer Kegs, I am just providing links to be clear about the parts we bought when setting up our system. You can also get a lot of these components locally at The Vineyard and likely elsewhere.

  • A 'D' Style Coupler - This is what attaches directly to the brewery keg. You can see it on the right with the blue handle.
  • A Tap - You can go a lot of ways here, we went the most affordable way. We bought the one with all the fixtures and hose already assembled because it seemed easiest.
  • A Regulator - This controls the pressure that your CO2 leaves the tank, you can see it above with all the dials. There are different levels of regulators depending on how many types of beverages you want to tap. For just beer, a single-pressure regulator should suffice. We also have a soda-water keg in our system (more on that another day), which requires a different pressure, so we got the dual pressure model. You can also get regulators that have one pressure gauge but two output lines so you can supply two types of beer at the same time. The type of regulator to get is a good decision to make carefully, since it is the most expensive part of the setup.
  • Gas Line - To get CO2 from your tank to the keg.
  • Clamps - For securing tubing to the fixtures
  • A CO2 Tank - For this you need a local supplier of CO2 tanks. We get ours from a place called Oxygen Products, which is a welding supply shop. Our 10lb tank lasted for over a year, at which time we swapped our tank for a full one.
  • Beer! - There are keg programs both at Wildrose Brewery and Village Brewery. We alternate kegs from each location so that we always have a full one on hand. We get the smaller size kegs because they are easier to carry and fit in the fridge, but they do also carry full size kegs. We have also dabbled in brewing our own beer. This requires a different type of keg and coupler that I'm not getting in to in this post, but otherwise uses the same components listed here. More on that another time.
  • A fridge - Technically this is optional, but without it, things become more tricky or your beer will be warm. We are lucky enough to have a fridge in our basement that we weren't using.
There you have it, those are the basics. I have tried to be thorough, but *please*, before you order anything, talk to one of the experts at The Vineyard or Ontario Beer Kegs and make sure you're buying the right parts. Every setup is a little bit different and you'll want to make sure you're not wasting money on the wrong components.

Once you have it all set up, the beer is also portable for events and outings. We have taken keg beer to house parties and on camping trips in mason jars or pop-top bottles. We have also taken the entire keg system on longer trips with friends when we would be staying in once place for a period of time. However you use it, there is less mess, less waste, and it always impresses!

If you have anything on draft at home, I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment!


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