Beer Dispenser Installation and Maintenance

Buying Guide

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Designed to quench the thirst of dozens of customers, beer dispensers are excellent additions to restaurants, bars, catered events, and more. Their simple design makes them easy to use for even brand new employees, and they have the capacity to serve dozens before needing a refill. Beer dispensers in general can be broken into three categories: kegerators, jockey boxes, and outdoor dispensers. There isn't one type that's better than the others - it all depends on what your business needs. But whatever you get, you should know how to install and maintain it.

Dispenser Breakdown

Kegerators Outdoor Dispensers Jockey Boxes
Electrically Cooled
Ice Cooled
Outdoor Use
Vertical Tap
Horizontal Tap

Kegerators

Kegerators are common pieces of beer equipment that can be used in a variety of businesses and for lots of occasions. A kegerator has an interior cavity for the keg, a latching or sealing front door, and a hole for the hoses and dispensing tower. Depending on the brand and model, there will most likely have to be room for the CO2 canister outside the unit. Once plugged in, the refrigeration system kicks on and cools the keg so that you can serve ice-cold beer. And for added versatility, there are single keg units, multiple keg units, and multi-purpose units that incorporate refrigerators for cans and bottles.

When installing a kegerator, it's usually as easy as finding the right place and an outlet. Afterward, run the proper lines from the CO2 canister to the keg and from the keg to the tower. Then it's an issue of maintenance. Cleaning the exterior is a no-brainer, but it's also important to service the refrigeration components to ensure they're working properly. You should also wipe down the interior so that it's sanitary, and check the CO2 levels often. It's also critically important to routinely replace keg lines. As you use your kegerator, the residue from the beer builds up in the keg lines, and after a long enough time, this residue drastically changes the flavor of your beer.


For convenience, some vendors like Beverage Air include additional literature about their kegerators so you can make the perfect choice. Others list their equipment with certain qualities in the item's number, like how True TBB and TDD units include the number of half kegs they can hold while TDB refrigerators include the unit's physical measurements.

Outdoor Dispensers

When you have the need for a beer dispenser but no electricity to power it, outdoor dispensers are an excellent choice. These beer dispensers resemble large plastic bins retrofitted with CO2 canisters, keg lines, dispensing towers, and sometimes dollies. The interior houses a keg, which is then lined with ice. The thick plastic of the container helps the ice stay frozen while the ice keeps the keg chilled.

Outdoor beer dispensers don't have the same aesthetically pleasing exteriors as kegerators, but they're more rugged, durable, and versatile. Some may require that you purchase separate dispensing equipment, but there are also complete packages available. The absence of electricity means there are no mechanical parts to maintain, so as long as you keep the keg lines clean, the keg cold, and the CO2 charged, you should be good to go. During extended use, it's also important to keep extra ice on hand and to empty out any melted runoff whenever you need to change kegs. This may sound like a long process for a routine switch, but an experienced crew can perform the task in no time.

Jockey Boxes

Similar to outdoor dispensers, jockey boxes are an excellent solution to serving beer when electricity is not available or desired. These beer dispensers strongly resemble common coolers from the outside, but they're much more specialized. All jockey boxes run lines from the back to the front with long tubes coiled inside with ice. This allows the user to pump beer from an unrefrigerated source into the box, and the beer is cooled as it travels through the iced lines to the tap.

To work properly, jockey boxes require a CO2 source, extra long keg lines, a horizontal tap, and lots of ice. On the up side, that means jockey boxes require no mechanical maintenance aside from hooking up the proper hoses to the right places. On the downside, the keg lines are much longer and more difficult to clean, making replacement lines a better option than maintenance sometimes. And while many models come with a drain, it's still important to wipe down the interior after each use to prevent residue buildup and water pooling.

Accessories

A wide variety of accessories are available to help you get the most out of your new beer dispenser. You can find new towers, cleaning supplies, tapping kits, and even dollies for your outdoor dispensers. If you're ever unsure about the levels in your kegs, you can easily use a keg check, and the perfect conversion kit can help you transform your beer dispenser into the ideal beverage machine for your business. We even offer faucet locks to help deter tampering during the hours when your bar is closed. With so many different accessories at your disposal, you can be sure we have the products you need to help your business succeed.