What to Consider Before You Buy a Direct Draw Beer Tap
Whether you own a tavern, pub or sports bar, or simply want to tap into your community’s draft beer-culture, having a direct draw beer tap in your venue is a profitable necessity. Direct draw beer taps are an easy source of profit for a bar or restaurant and an easy source of fun and social commentary for your customers. Folks don’t just enjoy drinking beer, they enjoy talking about what’s on tap!
Direct draw beer taps come in many shapes and sizes. Some dispensers are smaller, making them portable and great for caterers, golf outings and banquet halls. You could place a single, half-barrel keg inside to serve a larger amount of a single beer, or perhaps several sixth or quarter barrels to serve a larger selection to a smaller group. Some direct draw dispensers are quite large and can serve a variety of draft beers to hundreds of individuals. The size of your kegerator is determined primarily by it’s intended use. When determining what size dispenser to buy, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
“How much do I have to spend?”
This is the first question you need to ask yourself. If you have tens of thousands of dollars to invest in delivering a wide variety of draft beers to a large number of people, then you may want to consider a remote draw solution. Remote draw systems allow you to reduce the amount of space needed in the front of house by storing the beer kegs in a remote, refrigerated area. These systems require substantial up-front costs and may not be desirable for a start-up or even an established food service venue that just wants to get into the draft beer scene. Direct Draw Draft systems cost much less and allow you to quickly begin serving draft beers to your customers and community.
“How many people am I serving?”
It’s in your interest to actually do the math. How many pints would you like available? A full keg (half a barrel) contains 124 pints. A quarter contains 62 pints. A sixth contains 41 pints. There are a few other keg types but those are the most popular.
|A Sixth Barrel Keg||A Quarter Barrel Keg||A Half Barrel "Full Keg"|
|16-ounce Pint Glasses||41||62||124|
“Where is my serving location?”
If you need portability, then a 1-keg capacity dispenser can often be mobilized to serve beer to an outdoor wedding party, a golf outing or catered. If you are expanding your selection at your venue, perhaps a 3-keg capacity, 2 towers, 4 faucet arrangement is more appropriate if you have space.
“How many different kegs do I want to serve?”
This is highly related to the first question. You only have so much space. A 1-keg dispenser can hold a couple sixths, whereas a 3-keg dispenser could hold 3 half-barrels or a much larger array of sixth’s intended for a tasting event. If you intend to host a tasting event, just be sure you have enough faucets!
“How much space do I have for the placement of the dispenser?”
If you are adding or expanding your beer servings within your venue, space may not be negotiable. Your choice may be made by a measuring tape. Choosing between a 1, 2, 3 or 4-keg dispenser may be a matter of depth and width. Measure the area you would like to install a direct draw draft dispenser, then review your options. The more kegs a dispenser can hold, the wider it will be generally speaking.
These are all very important conversations you need to have with your staff, your equipment supplier and yourself. By answering these questions, you can confidently select the size of your direct draw draft beer dispenser.
Now that you have decided the best size for your beer dispenser, let’s look at several of the most common features:
- They include a self-contained side mount compressor
- Many 1-door portable units have a back-mount compressor
- Compressors are front-breathing
- 3″ diameter insulated draft-towers
- They can include drip trays (but always verify if it’s not marked)
- Foam, polyurethane insulation
- Magnetic door gaskets
- Interior lighting
- Self-closing, locking doors
- 115V power supply
It is safe for you to assume that most equipment suppliers will offer the refrigerated dispenser box along with one or two towers and several faucets. A couple things you’ll need that are not included are the CO2 tanks, couplers, and extra towers with multiple faucets should you choose to serve from several smaller kegs instead of one or two full-size kegs.
The last thing we want you to keep in mind is the importance of keeping your direct draw draft system clean. It’s not only an issue of sanitation, but it can also affect the taste of your beer! It would be quite a waste to have old beer making your new keg taste bad. To keep everything in tip-top condition, be sure to read the cleaning instructions provided with your dispenser. From top to bottom, you’ll want to keep your faucets clean, your beer line cleaned and flushed as appropriate, and even clean the keg itself if you are re-using kegs for your own homebrew.
Although there are many options and configurations when setting up your first Direct Draw draft beer setup, it is an easy and economical way to attract your community while boosting revenue. If you have additional questions or would like some help getting started, our equipment specialists are here to help.