Demystifying The Kegerator (& Advice For Purchasing!)
With tapped beverages being the new hot trend in cafes, the kegerator quickly became a staple piece of equipment - and for good reason. There are many advantages to serving beverages on tap. Relative to espresso machines, serving beverages on draft requires less maintenance, has a faster speed of service, and is one of the most sanitary methods of serving beverages in food service. However, their growth in popularity was so fast, their general operations remain a mystery to many cafe owners.
At Enhanced Beverage Solutions, we often joke that even though most modern espresso machines have a literal computer inside of them, somehow the kegerator is the intimidating piece of equipment. We’re here to breakdown a kegerator’s components so that you too, will begin to view these as the simplistic items that they are: merely a refrigerator with faucets
What is a kegerator?
Simply put, a kegerator is a beverage dispensing unit. It is a refrigerated system that contains kegs (or bag-in-box) beverages, and uses gas pressure to dispense those beverages on tap
Components of a kegerator:
The point at which your beverage is dispensed. There are a few different faucet types deepening on your intention:
Still: Fully open faucet or still or carbonated beverages
Stout: Intentionally-restricted flow for nitro-infused beverages. This faucet is how you get a nice later of micro-foam on your nitro cold brew.
Flow Control Faucet: Used to control the flow rate of still or carbonated beverages
2. Faucet Handle
Lever to release the beverage. These are easily interchangeable, and are a great opportunity to represent your brand or current tap menu offerings.
3. Tap Tower
The column attached to your refrigerated unit. The tap tower contains hoses that lead you beverage to the faucet. Tap towers are available with varying numbers of faucets.
4. Refrigeration Unit
The body of the kegerator that is refrigerated for optimal storing and serving temperature. The ideal temperature for nitro-infused beverages is 38-40 degrees. Please note: Kegerator thermometers can be inconsistent. It is entirely possible for your beverage lines to freeze inside a kegerator that reads 38 degrees. If this happens, simply open the door to thaw and turn the temperature up a few degrees.
5. Drip Tray
Found on top of the refrigeration unit directly above the faucets to collect accidental spills. Depending on the model, the drip tray with collect: in a shallow tray to be cleaned out; funneled through a hose to a bottle found in the refrigeration unit; or funneled through a hose to a floor drain.
6. Beverage Hose
Connects your keg of beverage to your faucet for dispensing.
7. Gas Hose
Connects the gas from your gas regulator to your keg. Also used to connect your gas source to your Nitro Infuser.
8. Nitro Infuser
In-line device used to mix the beverage with pure nitrogen gas on-demand, instantly. Learn more here.
9. Gas Regulator
This is connected to your gas tank to control and maintain the pressure of your gas going to the keg and/or Nitro Infuser. There are different regulators for gas type, therefore you must ensure you are purchasing the correct regulator for your gas cylinder.
10. Gas Source
Holds the gas that is used to push beverage from the keg through the beverage line and to the faucet, and to infuse your beverage with the Nitro Infuser. Gas sources vary from gas cylinder (pictured) or gas generators. When looking at nitrogen gas generators, ensure the purity level is as close to 100% as possible. Purity levels near 80% are simply compressed air and will not produce a nitro-infused beverage.
The vessel that stores your beverage. Kept in the refrigeration unit. There are two styles of kegs: Corny (pictured) and sanke. If you are brewing / mixing your beverage in-house, chances are you will want to use a corny keg. If you are purchasing kegs, they will likely be sanke. Verify with your keg provider upon purchasing.
12. Keg Coupler
The valve that taps the keg, and connects it to the beverage hose. The coupler will vary depending on style of keg (corny or sanke).