Knowing how to tap a keg is widely important for every draft beer enthusiast. Even though the process itself is not that complicated, there are still a few nuances that you should be aware of.
Here in this article on the Beverage Craft blog, we talk about the three main ways to tap a keg and what equipment you need for tapping a keg.
3 Best Ways to Tap a Beer Keg
Whether you're at a backyard party, a picnic, or simply enjoying a frosty pint at home, knowing how to tap a keg right is crucial for a smooth pouring experience. So, how do you tap a keg?
Here are three of the best ways to tap a keg using a hand pump, a jockey box, and a kegerator. Any of these will do if you’re not sure how to tap a keg at home or outdoor event.
How to Tap a Keg With a Hand Pump
Using a hand pump for a beer keg is a classic method that’s perfect for outdoor events or places where electricity might not be accessible. To learn how to tap a keg with a party pump, follow these simple instructions:
- Locate the coupler on the keg (usually protected by a metal cap). Remove the cap, slide the coupler onto the valve, and twist it until it locks securely in place.
- Attach the hand pump on top of the coupler, press the tap firmly into the keg, and start pumping. The hand pump operates by pressurizing the keg with air, forcing the beer up and out when the tap is open.
- Give the keg a few pumps, and that’s it! You’re ready to pour.
How to Tap a Keg With a Jockey Box
A jockey box is another great option for outdoor events. It consists of a cooler, a metal coil (or sometimes a plate), and a faucet. Here’s how to tap a keg with a beer jockey box.
- Fill the jockey box with ice, ensuring that it surrounds the coil completely.
- Attach the coupler to the keg.
- Connect the keg to the jockey box by attaching the beer line from the keg to the cooler.
- Attach the dispense faucet to the coil outside the cooler. That’s it! You can pour now.
How to Tap a Keg With a Kegerator
We have a great, in-depth article on tapping a keg with kegerator - be sure to read it. Here, we’ll just mention the main steps.
- Install the keg coupler on the beer line, making sure it's securely connected.
- Place the keg into the kegerator and secure it.
- Adjust the pressure settings on the CO2 tank to achieve the desired carbonation level.
- Open the tap and pour.
How to Put a Tap on a Keg
Putting a tap on a keg is a fairly simple process – here’s a quick guide on how to properly tap a keg.
- Ensure that the keg is properly chilled before tapping it. Also, make sure you’ve got the right beer keg taps for the job.
- Clean and sanitize the keg and tap thoroughly to prevent contamination. Use warm water and mild detergent, rinsing every element with water afterward.
- Attach the keg coupler and push it down until the coupler clicks into place.
- Connect the gas line. If you’re using a CO2 tank, make sure it’s full and properly connected to the regulator. Adjust the gas pressure according to the required levels.
- Slowly turn the gas on, allowing CO2 to flow into the keg. This will help build pressure inside, allowing the beverage to dispense smoothly.
- Once the coupler is securely attached, pull on the tap handle to release the beverage.
How to Tap a Keg With CO2
CO2 is used for almost all popular draft beers (excluding some stouts), which is why it’s important to know how to set up a keg with CO2 – here's a quick guide.
- Make sure the CO2 tank is filled and secured.
- Attach the regulator to the CO2 tank by twisting it tightly clockwise, using a wrench if necessary. Set the desired pressure BEFORE connecting the regulator to the keg.
- Attach one end of the gas line to the outlet port on the regulator and secure it with a clamp.
- Remove the cap or valve on top of the keg, and then insert the gas tube into the gas-in port. Twist the tube tightly to secure it in place.
- Open the valve on the CO2 tank slowly to allow the gas to flow into the keg – that’s the answer to a commonly asked question, “Do you turn CO2 on before or after tapping a keg?”
- Connect the faucet. Now you’re ready to pour!
What should the CO2 be set at for a keg? For most beers, this value should be within 10-15 PSI.
Timing: When to Tap a Keg
If you’re not sure when to tap a keg, the rule of thumb is to let it cool down to the temperature set by the manufacturer. How long should a keg sit before tapping? Typically, you would need to keep your keg in an iced bath for 4–5 hours. This will help you to ensure a foamless pour.
How Long Does a Tapped Keg Last?
If you’re using a party pump, your keg should not last more than 24 hours. If it’s a kegerator, then the beer may stay fresh for up to 3 months.
How to Reduce Foam When Tapping a Keg
How to stop a keg from foaming? The two best ways to do it are:
- Set the right pressure on the CO2 tank (typically, between 10 and 15 PSI)
- Cool down your keg before tapping it
If you’d like to learn more about how to tap a keg without foam, please check out this article on our blog.