Category Archives: Kegerator Guides

Buyer be Smart: Common Kegerator Problems

beer fresh from the kegeratorIf you’re shopping for a new kegerator, reading customer reviews can be a scarey experience.  There isn’t a kegerator on the market that has been left untouched by a salty purchaser with one horror story or another.

It’s sad to say, but when it comes to these little machines, you get what you pay for.  While most kegerator owners are happy and don’t have any problems with their unit, there are many who complain – and complain very loudly – about how they were let down by their $300+ machines.

The problem is that many jump into a kegerator purchase with both feet and very little research.  Beer needs to be treated very carefully.  All conditions need to be just right to get it to pour the right way.  If one factor is just a little bit off, it can lead to a glass of foamy beer – or worse – no beer at all.

My opinion is that if you plan on spending less than $1200 on a kegerator, be prepared to work with it to get the right results. If that’s too much time and effort for you, consider a more expensive option, such as a Perlick or .  Perlick primarily produces commercial draft systems, but also has a line of indoor and outdoor kegerators for your home.  They are the best in the business, so if you want no-fuss right out of the box, that’s the way to go.

If Perlick is too much for you, then get a cheaper kegerator, but be prepared to deal with the consequences.  Read through these common problems, and you will know what to expect when your shiny new kegerator arrives at your door.

 

All Too Common Problems With Cheap Kegerators

The following is a list of the three biggest complaints that I see about virtually every home kegerator.  No brand has been left untouched, including Danby, Keggermiester, and even the mighty (and more expensive) Sanyo line.

Don’t be afraid of these problems – just know that they aren’t difficult to overcome, even if you read a dozen people screaming about them online.  Think of them more as fine-tuning to get your perfect glass of beer.

 

Problem #1 – My Kegerator Doesn’t Get Cold Enough

This is probably the biggest complaint I see about any cheap kegerator. If your kegerator doesn’t get cold enough, there are ways to fix it, but it might take a call from your appliance technician.

The problem starts with the design of your kegerator.  Face it – you’re using a mini-fridge as your cooling unit, and then throwing in a huge keg of beer that takes up most of the space in it, which it really isn’t designed to do in the first place.

Mini-fridges, like your big fridge, depend on air being able to flow through and circulate. When there isn’t much room for movement, your circulation stops.

The easiest and cheapest remedy is to buy a small fan and put it in the fridge with your keg. This will cool down your beer by at least a couple of degrees.

If you’re still seeing poor results after the addition of a fan, your thermostat might not be calibrated right. Again, you’re attempting to cool down a huge keg with a mini-fridge.  It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that when your fridge leaves the factory, it’s set to cool food – and not freeze it.  They naturally set the thermostat to deal with food – and not with a big keg of beer.

If you need to have your thermostat calibrated, you need to have an appliance tech deal with it.  Check with your manufacturer to see if they’ll send someone out free of charge, but be prepared to pay $50-$100 if the don’t.

 

Problem #2 – My Beer is Too Foamy

This is another all-too-common problem associated with virtually every cheap kegerator, but this has nothing to do with your fridge. It has everything to do with the amount of CO2 you’re pumping into your keg – and if it’s foamy, it’s probably way too much.

Kegged beer flows properly with CO2 line pressure at around 14 psi for most styles of beer.  Many of these kegerators only come with a regulator that only gauge the pressure in the CO2 bottle, and not the pressure in the line. Many first-time kegerator owners don’t understand this, crank open the CO2, and then whine when the gauge says 45 psi and is spraying foam out of the tap.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to this problem – don’t open the CO2 tank open all the way! Start out very small. Barely crack your tank open, then see if beer is coming out of the tap. Open it a very small amount at a time until you have your beer pouring the way  you want.

 

Problem #3 – The First Beer I Pour is Foamy, But the Rest are Fine.

An insulated kegerator tower
example of an insulated tower

This is all about circulation again.  I have no idea why, but the majority of beer towers that come with these cheap kegerators are not insulated, leaving the beer in the tower’s section of the line pretty much exposed. When beer sits in the tower, it gets warm, making your first pour of the day foamy.

Easy fix – insulate your tower! This is easiest to do when you’re setting up your kegerator for the first time, but isn’t difficult to do after the fact either.

It is also a good idea to add a small fan as well, if you haven’t already.

 

Conclusion

Should you shy away from a cheap kegerator? I don’t think so. If you can’t afford a commercial-grade kegerator for your home, I highly recommend getting one of these units. Just be prepared to spend a little extra money to get it going right, and you and your kegerator will have a long and happy relationship.

My Dream Outdoor Kegerator

Perlick Outdoor Refrigerator / Dual Tap KegeratorToday I want to talk about my quest for an outdoor kegerator. This is not an official review, it’s just something I wanted to share with you beer lovers.

I have a dream.

My dream is to be able to entertain in my own back yard like nobody else.

I’m in the process of looking for a sizable out of town property where I can build to suit. My main criteria for this property is that I have to be able to create a nice, big, private back yard.

In this back yard, I will build a large patio, which will include a nice outdoor kitchen. It doesn’t have to be much, but I want a lot of counter space and a built in grill.

..and an outdoor kegerator.

But this kitchen wouldn’t be complete without an outdoor kegerator. In fact, a kegerator is really what I want my kitchen to be designed around. It has the biggest draw for me.

Imagine throwing a midsummer evening soiree. The sun goes down and your friends arrive. You all take turns flipping steaks on the grill. It’s hot. But you’ve got something to make your guests much more comfortable – a chilled keg tapped in your outdoor kegerator, ready to deliver right in your own back yard. Your guests happily take turns pouring themselves cold, frosty beer.

Suddenly nobody complains about the heat, and the evening is filled with laughter and memories.

This is my dream. A dream that is slowly becoming a reality.

I haven’t even purchased my property yet, and I’m already researching my future outdoor kegerator. Might sound like I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but this will be the pinnacle of my back yard space.

This is something I refuse to convert a fridge or freezer into. This kegerator has to look as good as the rest of my kitchen. And for that, I’m turning to Perlick.

The best outdoor kegerator manufacturer?

Perlick is well known for its commercial draft systems – one of my friends owns a couple of bars and uses their systems. They come highly recommended for their dependability and solid design.

But Perlick also does high end residential units, for both indoor and outdoor, with the same commercial grade quality. They are complete, self-containing kegerator systems, which need absolutely no upgrading because they are already include the best parts. This is one of those situations where you really get what you pay for, and since I plan on forking over a small fortune for my outdoor kegerator, I refuse to go for anything less than superb.

To me, superb is this beer fridge/kegerator combo. It’s double the width of most kegerators, because one side is the kegerator, and the other side is a shelved fridge so guests can stock it with their own beer, keeping it chilled to the perfect temperature.

I’ve also chosen to go with a glass door on the fridge side, just because I think it would look very slick, and I think it would really pop with the rest of my cabinets, especially under a nice granite counter top.

This dream is a dream that will soon be a reality. I’m drooling over it already. In my mind, there is really nothing better than being able to pour your own home brew out of your own back yard because you own an outdoor kegerator.

If you’ve read anything else on this site, you know that I have a passion for making my own home brewed draft beer. Why wouldn’t my dream translate into the best of the best for a backyard draft system?

Do you have a dream? I dare you to dream a little harder and check out what Perlick has to offer. I’ve got my eye on this unit – it’s one of the priciest models, but if you haven’t guessed, I’m willing to spend the extra money to get the right outdoor kegerator.

If you are doing what I’m planning and creating your own outdoor entertaining space, the time to order is now – some units can take up to 5 weeks have your outdoor kegerator delivered.

What is a Kegerator Conversion Kit?

If you have read anything about me, you know that I’ve been brewing my own draft beer forever and it really shouldn’t surprise you that I know a thing or two about using a kegerator conversion kit.

I actually have loads of experience when it comes to them. In college, I actually had a small business going converting mini fridges into kegerators for guys in my dorm. Today, I’m going to share my knowledge with you, which should give you a basic primer if you don’t know anything about or are considering a kegerator conversion kit.

What is a kegerator conversion kit?

kegerator conversion kit used on a mini fridgeSimply put, a kegerator conversion kit is what you use to turn an existing fridge or freezer into a kegerator. They often come with all the parts you need to convert your fridge, including instructions.

What are the benefits of using a kegerator conversion kit over buying a kegerator?

I personally prefer buying higher quality kegerators that don’t need conversion, but if you happen to be a little short on cash, a kegerator conversion kit is a good alternative.

They can be especially beneficial if you already have a suitable fridge or freezer that you want to convert, assuming that the unit can actually be converted.

If you don’t care about how it looks and are looking for something to just throw in your man cave, a kegerator conversion kit would probably work out perfectly for you.

Why should I stay away from doing a conversion?

  • Don’t take on a conversion yourself if you are not good with tools or following directions.
  • Don’t convert a fridge or freezer that you can’t find information on placement of cooling lines.
  • Don’t do a conversion if you want something that looks professional – kits rarely make a stylish choice.
  • Don’t go with a kit if you are concerned about replacing or upgrading parts, or a potentially poor outcome. Instead, spend the extra money on a quality pre-manufactured kegerator.

I already have a fridge or freezer – Can I convert it?

That’s a solid maybe. If it’s a full size fridge or freezer, you shouldn’t have any problems finding a kegerator conversion kit that will work for it, but you do need to make sure that the cooling compartment is going to be big enough to hold your keg. This is most important for those of you wanting to store a half barrel keg, as some of the smaller fridges and freezers just aren’t big enough.

You also need to be aware of where the cooling lines are in the unit. You can usually find this information from the manufacturer. In some cases, converting a unit you happen to have around is impossible, as many units don’t have a place where you can safely cut through the walls of the unit without damaging the cooling lines. Damaging the cooling lines will render your unit completely useless, and cost you more money to replace it.

On the same note, don’t just buy any fridge or freezer with out checking with the manufacturer.

Where can I find more information about how to use a kegerator conversion kit?

You can always check back here, as I will be writing some kegerator conversion kit reviews, but for now, search around a few of the brewing forums to find out which fridges convert better. Amazon is a great place to start.

Example Kegerator Savings

How much can a kegerator save you? Well that depends on many different factors, but that’s why I’m here to help you figure that out.

The Cost of a Kegerator

Kegerator prices vary from very cheap to extremely expensive. I recommend staying away from either end, but a good starting kegerator should be no less than $350, with extra money tucked away for aftermarket improvements – which many kegerators need.

Great Northern Black Kegerator Beer Dispenser RefrigeratorFor this example, I’ll need a kegerator for our comparison. I have chosen a one-tap kegerator manufactured by Great Northern Popcorn Company, which I find slightly ironic, but what ever. This kegerator isn’t everyone’s choice, and I’m not saying go out and buy it as I have yet to actually do a review on it. But for a cost savings example, we’ll use it here. You can click on the picture to see it at amazon.

At the time of this writing, that very kegerator is on sale for $479.95, which is close to my $500 budget. This is a good budget to keep in mind, as even if you go with a cheaper model, remember to save some cash for upgrades or replacing parts for higher quality versions.

Wow, $500 for a beer fridge, you might say. Well, yes, but depending on what you plan on stocking your kegerator with, you might be surprised at how much it will save you.

Introducing the Kegerator Buddies

So now we’ll look at three different beer buddies. Let’s call them Tom, Fred, and Sammy.

All three buddies in our example love beer, of course. And all three enjoy a beer or two a night, and maybe a couple extra during the game when friends are over. Lets say their average consumption (including guests, of course) is about a case, or 24 bottles of beer, a week.

Let’s also say that all three of our buddies all bought the same kegerator. As I said before, we’ll use the Frosty Keg and we’ll say the price is an even $500. So Tom, Fred and Sammy all go through roughly the same amount of beer, and bought the same kegerator.

What’s different about our friends is what they’re drinking. We all know how real beer drinkers all have different tastes, and thanks to the amazing variety out there, we couldn’t expect anything less!

Fred likes his basic, big name domestic beers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We’ll say that he pretty much always ends up buying one of only a few choices, and for this example, his mainstay is Bud, costing him about $18 a week.

Sammy, way at the other end of the scale from Fred, loves his exotic imports, and does crazy things like paring beer with meals, and buying different styles of beer to suit different times of the year. Because Jim is the ultimate beer snob, we’re going to price him at $36 a week for 4 six packs.

Tom sits right in the middle of the two. He is a bit of a beer connoisseur and while he enjoys tasting different micro brews from around the country, he wants his old fallback, which we’ll say is Blue Moon White. He buys two 12 packs a week, costing him about $28.

Now we know what our three friends tastes are, and how cost reflects their choices.

All three of our beer buddies get their kegerator on the same day. Let’s say that none of them had any trouble, or needed to do any upgrades. They all are working properly and ready to take on their first keg.

Our Buddies Buy Their Kegs

Fred runs out to his favorite liquor store, and finds a 1/2 barrel keg of Bud costs him around $100. Thank goodness he bought a kegerator that can fit it!

Meanwhile, Tom verifies in advance that his local beer store will have a 1/2 barrel keg of Blue Moon available for him. When he picks it up, he pays $140 for it.

And then there’s Sammy. Sammy decided to go all out and brew his own all-grain brew – No kits for this snob! Sammy decided 6 weeks beforehand to brew up a hefeweizen-style beer, which he knows works well on hot patio days. Though Sammy has to spend a few hours making it, and a few more hours here and there while it ferments and kegging it, Sammy pays a mere $30 for all the ingredients. But it only makes a third of a 1/2 barrel, so we’ll assume he does this 3 times for every keg his friends buy, making it $90.

So? How Much Does a Kegerator Save Them?

It’s already becoming clear who the obvious winner might be – Sammy, right? Well, sure, if you don’t mind the time he’s putting into his hobby. But let’s look a little closer.

Fred’s Bud used to cost him $0.75 per 12 oz bottle, but now, he’s only spending about $0.61 for the same amount from his keg. That’s $14.64 per case, saving him $3.36 a case, and $174.72 a year. It’s going to take about 149 cases, or nearly 3 years to make his money back on the kegerator, but after that, he has no worries.

Tom was spending $1.16 for each bottle of beer, but now that he’s got his Blue Moon on tap, he’s spending $0.85 per 12 oz. Tom’s savings are a little better than Freds, as he’s now paying $20.40 per case – a $7.60 difference. Tom is going to pay off his kegerator much faster, because it will only take him 66 cases or just over a year for him to make his money back.

That leaves us with Sammy the Beer Snob. You’ll remember that Sammy went to through the effort to brew his own masterpiece to serve himself and his guests. I’m going to guess that Sammy most likely enjoys the fact that he can show off his brewing skills and really doesn’t care about the savings.

How do you think Sammy did? Is he saving any real money with all that extra work?

First off, we have to remember that while Sammy is making 3 batches of beer for every keg that his buddies are buying, he’s still half a gallon short. Three of his brews make 15 gallons, while Tom and Fred’s kegs are all 15.5 gallons each, so I am working this into my comparison.

Sammy’s imports used to cost him $1.50 per bottle, but now that he’s brewing his own beer, he’s only paying $0.58 for a 12 oz serving. Yup, all that extra time and effort paid off for Sammy, because even though he’s not making quite as much, he’s saving $0.92 for each bottle – translating to $22.06 per week. At this rate, Sammy will handily have his $500 kegerator paid off in less than 6 months! Who said snobbery had to be expensive?

So there you have it. No matter who you are, a kegerator can save you money, but how much truly depends on your style and the lengths you are willing to go to. If the savings aren’t enough to persuade you from making the transition, you can read about how purchasing a kegerator can have several other benefits for you as well.

Benefits of a Kegerator

Even your dad will love your kegeratorIf you’re thinking about bringing a kegerator into your home, let me convince you why you should do it right now!

Having both purchased and built my own kegerator, I can tell you how much I enjoy it and would never consider my home complete with out having draft beer available at all times.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Have a Kegerator

1. Beer On Demand! Is there anything better than coming home from a hard day’s work and being able to pour yourself beer to unwind with? I think not! A properly set up kegerator will always produce a mug of the cold stuff at just the right temperature.

2. Make Friends Jealous! There’s nothing that many men appreciate more than being able to pour their own big mug of tasty beer. Keep chilled mugs near by to impress them even more. Be careful though – the sight of your kegerator might turn some of your friends into big mooches that never leave. Solution: charge at the door!

3. Can’t Beat the Price! Even if you prefer the big domestic brands, you will save money. You’ll save more if you enjoy more expensive beers. Buying beer by the keg is a very cost effective way of keeping your brew habits up. Want to see how much? Check out my analysis of how a kegerator can save you money.

4. No More Bottles! Gone are the cases of empties sitting by your door. Your kegerator not only saves you money, but it’s environmentally friendly too! No more recycling or filling up landfills. If you don’t buy into that, then think of how you’ll never have to run around collecting bottles from the four corners of your house.

5. Beer Stays Fresher! Ever go to a keg party where someone’s just using one of those crappy picnic pumps? They all suck – making your beer foamy and everything else sticky. Then your beer gets warm and what ever is left after the party is useless. No more! With a kegerator, your beer stays cold and yummy. And since you use CO2 just like the big draft systems to ensure your beer not only stays cold, but with the perfect amount of head for up to 3 months!

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Get a Kegerator

1. No Electricity. If you live in a dirt floor hut, I would first start working on getting out of it. Maybe an education.

2. You don’t drink. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.

3. You don’t want to be cool, have draft on demand, or any semblance of a life. Well, I guess if you have your priorities… far be it from me to judge.. nerd..

4. Kegs are Too Much of a Hassle. So is your girlfriend. You don’t seem to be getting rid of her – a kegerator will help you ignore her better. Don’t have a girlfriend? A kegerator and a little bit of networking will help. Promise.

5. You like booze, just not beer. Please be advised that you are a sissy girl. I’d like you to remove yourself from this site at once before my manly kegerator punches you through your monitor.

No Reason Not to Have a Kegerator

If you’re still not getting it, scroll up, and read again. Repeat until you get it.

If you do get it, go ahead and look through this site for more information on your future kegerator. If you want to start dreaming about your future kegerator, go see the massive selection of sexy kegerators available if you look hard enough.