Everyone likes to grab a cold beer, ale or lager from time to time with the boys (or with the girls), but doing so regularly can get quite expensive. Pubs, nightclubs and neighborhood bars have to charge much more for their beer to account for things like delivery costs, overhead and salaries—costs they pass on to us, the consumers.
Fortunately, there is another way to enjoy delicious draft beer at home or in your man cave.
Installing a beer tap in your home bar, will allow you to take full advantage of the entertainment factor right from your home—a comfortable space—and save you the money that you would otherwise spend on a day or night drinking out.
In your home bar, you and your friends can enjoy the big game over a round of brews without having to put up with the hassles often found in bars—and without having to worry about driving home.
To help you bring all of these fun and exciting vibes to your home, in the following article we will discuss how to install a better beer tap in your home bar system. Of course, for this article we will already assume that you have a home bar in your man cave or game room, so we will not be discussing the basics about actually building a home bar.
Instead we will focus on the steps you will need to take to add the desired beer tap as a way to enjoy frothy and ice-cold beer or ale at any time you wish.
Why Add a Tap to Your Home Bar?
If you already have a home bar, you may be wondering why it is so important to add a better tap to your system. This is an easy question to answer.
True beer aficionados will always prefer the authentic taste of draft beer over bottled beer. And having your own tap system to deliver this kind of quality will pair perfectly with your overall cocktail system that you previously installed.
Of course, you could just hire a professional to add a tap to your home bar, and if you are truly uncomfortable around tools this might be the better way to go.
However, the DIY option will not only be more rewarding, it will allow you to control every aspect of the process from start to finish, which will ultimately lead to the highest quality experience.
Installing a Tap in a Home Bar: The Fundamentals
When first considering adding a tap to your home bar setup, the first step will be imagining where all the components will go, followed by a sketch or mental picture of how the whole thing will ultimately come together.
When forming this mental picture or sketch, you will need to consider all of the basic parts involved in a beer tap setup.
These fundamental parts include:
- The Keg. The keg is where the beer is stored in a draft beer system, and this will need to be refrigerated.
- A carbon dioxide (CO2) gas tank or canister. A CO2 tank or canister will provide the needed pressurization, allowing the beer to flow from the keg and producing the frothy bubbles we all know and love.
- Every CO2 tank will need to have a regulator, as this is used to control the pressure generated from the tank.
- Beer line. The beer line is essentially the tube that brings beer from the keg up to the faucet or beer flow.
- The tap. The tap is a word used to describe the connection piece that allows you to get beer out of the keg.
- The handle is a long piece of wood or plastic that typically screws onto the faucet and makes pouring easier while also allowing you to control the beer flow.
- Your entire configuration will have to have a means of refrigeration to keep the beer ice cold.
Because the beer needs to (ideally) be kept cold, the keg itself will need to be placed inside a refrigeration unit. If you decide to do this project on your own, just keep in mind that there will be some tools and drilling as part of the process.
Making the First Connections
A draft beer tap system is a fairly easy and straightforward concept. In these systems, the gas in the CO2 tank is pumped into the keg to pressurize the contents, and the beer flows from the keg to the tap.
In very large bar setups, oftentimes the beer has to flow as much as 50 feet or more before reaching the tap, but this is not something you will have to worry about in a home bar setup. What you will need to do is make the necessary connections—connecting the CO2 tank, the keg and the tap using plastic tubing.
When making these required connections in your draft beer system there are some things to keep in mind. First, when connecting gas lines be sure to use dark-colored tubing, and for the beer lines use clear or transparent tubing.
This will help you easily identify the two different tubes and avoid any mix-ups when putting it all together.
Once you have installed your gas lines, it is crucial that you test those lines using foam. In doing this, you’ll be able to visually identify any leaks in your system and correct them; for safety’s sake, at no time should the gas escape into the air.
Finally, remember that your gas line and beer lines will not have to cover much distance. As such, you do not need to buy the most expensive hoses.
Simply buy what is recommended by the manufacturer and nothing more.
Drilling the Necessary Holes
In this section we are going to assume that you have already picked out a small refrigeration unit in which the keg will sit. If you haven’t yet done this, make sure to select one that is fairly affordable, given that you will need to drill a few holes in the unit prior to setting it up.
You will need to drill holes in the refrigerator through which the tubes connecting your system can enter and exit the unit. Although the CO2 will NOT need to be refrigerated, the keg should ideally be kept very cold.
When drilling these holes, try to match the hose sizes as best you can. Don’t worry about making the holes a little too large, because you can always fill in the extra space with silicone to prevent too much of the cold air from escaping the refrigeration unit.
Always use eye and ear protection when operating your drill and then sand down any rough edges that could potentially damage the hoses. Damage such as this can be potentially dangerous and, in some cases, fatal, as CO2 is a very lethal gas in higher doses.
Once you have drilled the holes for your hoses it is important that you cut them to size or tether them in some way. The last thing you want is a tangle of hoses lying around.
Not only will this look shoddy and unprofessional, it can also cause a trip hazard leading to injury or worse. Zip ties are a great way to bundle up loose hosing and move it safely out of the way.
Putting It All Together
Now that the holes are drilled in the refrigerator and the hoses are cut or bundled to size, it’s time to put it all together.
Here are the steps you will need to take to successfully install a better tap in your home bar:
- Connect the regulator. Connect the regulator to the CO2 canister and adjust the pressure level accordingly. Beer can be pumped at various pressures, so you may have to toy with this before deciding on an optimal pressure.
- Assemble the lines and the tap. Assembling the lines and the tap are two of the easiest parts of the process, as these devices tend to come with easy-to-follow instructions. Note: this may require some more drilling for the best possible look and aesthetics.
- Ensure constant power. To power the refrigeration unit, you will need a source of constant power, so be sure to setup your keg near an outlet or use a properly-rated extension cord to do the job. Another option is to have a professional electrician install another outlet, but this can add a lot of extra money to your DIY project.
After connecting both the gas and beer lines, assembling the tap, setting the regulator and plugging in the refrigeration unit, the final step is to check your system for any leaks—gas or beer leaks. If there are none, tap the keg and you are all set, but if you do have leaks, shut the system down completely and fix those leaks.
Congratulations you now know how to install a beer tap in your home bar! You are now ready to pour a draft beer from the comfort of your own home.