Choosing the Best Direct-Draw Beer System for Your Business

If you own a bar, restaurant, or brewery, serving draft beer is an easy and profitable way to expand your drink selection. To get your ice cold beer from the keg to the customer, you’ll need to find the perfect direct-draw beer tap system for restaurants. If you're looking to enhance your establishment's beverage service, keep reading to learn what a direct-draw system is, and discover which type may be best for your business.

What Is a Direct-Draw Beer System?

what is a direct draw beer system

A direct draw beer dispenser stores kegs at the ideal serving temperature in a self-contained unit. With the use of beer-dispensing hardware and a beer line, the beer is drawn straight from the keg to the faucet.

Advantages of a Direct-Draw Beer System

When considering which direct-draw beer system will work best for you, keep in mind these important advantages of installing a direct-draw system.

  • Direct-draw beer systems are easy and quick to install, which means you can start serving draft beer in no time.
  • These systems work best in smaller establishments or restaurants looking for an economical option.
  • The short distance from the keg to the glass typically means your guest’s beer stays cold and fewer complications can arise.

Disadvantages of a Direct-Draw Beer System

Before installing a draw system, it’s important to consider some of the drawbacks or limitations a direct-draw beer system can experience.

  • These systems may not work well in high-volume bars.
  • Kegs and containers must be changed wherever the system is located, which could be right in your crowded bar area.
  • These systems offer a limited number of keg spaces with typically no more than 8 faucets possible.

What’s the Difference Between a Direct Draw and Remote Draw Beer System?

While a direct draw beer system stores kegs in the same unit in which the beer will be dispensed, a remote draw beer system stores kegs in an entirely separate area. They are typically housed in walk-in coolers either inside or outside the building. Often times, this allows the bar or restaurant to house and tap more kegs at one time while keeping them out of sight from the customer.

Remote draw systems are more costly to install, and they’re more prone to temperature fluctuations or maintenance issues. However, they are an ideal option for businesses selling a high volume of beer regularly or for businesses with limited bar space in the front-of-house area.

Types of Direct-Draw Beer Systems


Once you’ve decided a direct-draw beer system will be a beneficial addition to your bar's back-of-house area, it’s time to figure out which of the following specific types of systems will best suit your needs. Take your bar, restaurant, or brewery’s needs into consideration as you discover the difference between these direct-draw beer systems.


Combining the words “keg” and “refrigerator,” a kegerator is a freestanding unit designed to house single or multiple kegs at the optimal temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Keeps beer temperature regulated and steady before serving
  • Shorter lines between the keg and the spout means less maintenance and cleaning than kegs housed farther away
  • Can be used for serving wine, cold brew coffee, kombucha, and certain liquors
  • Houses varying combinations of 1/6, 1/4, and 1/2 barrel capacity kegs
  • Outdoor kegerators can combat unusually high or low temperatures in extreme climates

While kegerators may be great for larger bars, there are a few limitations to consider. Kegerators tend to take up valuable space behind the bar, which is often an issue in smaller or tighter bar areas. Plus, they can often conflict with your bar’s aesthetics, and they draw attention anytime a new keg is delivered to your bar.

Club Top Beer Dispensers

Club top beer dispensers are a type of kegerator that includes an additional compartment with a slide-top. This compartment is perfect for chilling canned or bottled beers and for frosting mugs.

  • Offers the same conveniences as a kegerator with additional refrigeration space
  • Can be installed directly into the bar or made mobile with casters
  • Cold air intake reduces excess foam when pouring beer

Club top beer dispensers include similar limitations as kegerators. They can take up large amounts of space in a cramped bar and may not fit your establishment’s decor. However, they do provide a convenient storage solution for selling the occasional six pack to-go.

Back Bar Coolers

Back bar coolers offer maximum storage in a compact space. They contain multiple storage compartments designed to house kegs, six packs, cans, or bottles. Unlike other kegerators, this system is typically designed to enhance the look of your bar while showcasing merchandise to boost impulse sales.

  • Glass doors create an enticing display of bottles and cans for purchase
  • Offers a greater variety of selection for guests
  • Direct-draw tap system provides cold air intake capabilities designed to reduce excess foam

Just like kegerators, back bar coolers are still going to draw attention when it comes time to change out empty kegs. But, choosing a back bar cooler with a sleek, glass door can create a merchandising opportunity that may ultimately increase sales. Plus, the two-in-one storage solution is great for bar areas with limited space.

Installing a direct-draw beer system in your bar, restaurant, winery, or brewery is a simple and cost-effective way to expand your craft beer offerings. Based on the types of direct-draw beer systems offered, evaluate your bar back and decide which system would best serve the needs of your bartenders and customers.

Posted in: Bars & Breweries|Management & Operation|By Rachel Jenkins
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