To get the most out of a kegerator, it does start at buying a good-quality one.
Commercial units of kegerators are purposely made to serve draft beer. Because they are manufactured that way, parts function properly and one is able to enjoy his/her draft beer with the least hassles.
However, many kegerators are store-bought units. They are often poorly modified, factory-converted mini-refrigerators that simply are not that equipped. As such, they often fail to work as well as they should.
These are some of their limitations and flaws:
- Inadequate thermostat (they use a cold plate to cool the appliance)
- Malfunctioning defrost operation
- Inability to cool the beer line in the draft tower
- Poor dispense equipment (ex. aluminum couplers, draft faucets with plastic internal parts, weak lever assemblies)
- No instructions for operation and maintenance provided
The buyer could opt to upgrade the unit. The question is, would it cost even more than buying a commercial unit?
This is not to say that all store-bought kegerators are faulty and inadequate. Perhaps, it would be best to inspect everything first before buying. Find out what vital parts are needed and/or missing then make the decision — to buy or not to buy?
Improving a Kegerator
Suppose that you already bought a kegerator. It’s working properly. No problems encountered. And yet, one feels the unit needs more oomph.
Here are some things to do or remember to get the most out of a kegerator:
- Find out all the necessary parts and how models vary. Compare with other models or brands. This should help determine what improvements an owner would like to concentrate on. This is an important step.
- Foam is fun to watch, but no one wants to “drink” foam. Draft beer tends to be foamy so make sure to lessen the foam, which, by the way, means there is a problem with the temperature.
- Go through the system and look for warm parts that may be causing the problem. Fix when found.
- Don’t pour beer immediately — give the keg enough time to cool down and settle.
- It could be improper pouring technique so open faucet in one quick, steady motion.
- Clean glasses are necessary. They should be unfrozen, the insides should be smooth.
- Cool the kegerator tower for less foam and higher temperature. If the unit is not a commercial unit, the owner can try to create a blower and hose apparatus. Equipment and tools can be easy to find.
Prevent bad odor, fruit flies, and sticky substances. Those take the fun out of the experience. Install a professional quality drip/drain tray to collect spilled/dripped beer and drain. The location should be inside the kegerator. Dump the waste later when all the guests have gone.
- Find the best brewing thermometer to use. Which kind depends on the budget and how it is going to be used. An inaccurate thermometer does not give good results.
- Purchase brewing gadgets: immersion wort chiller, auto-siphon, pH meter and pH strips, refractometer, digital timers, sparge arm, wort aeration system. Find out what they are for and how best to use them.
- Clean the kegerator regularly. Concentrate on the beer lines and faucet because yeast, mold and deposits could gather there and cause microbial infection. This will cause the beer to taste baaad. Use a beer line cleaning kit. Soap and water won’t do.