Outdoor Refrigeration FAQ
Ah, outdoor refrigeration! What a beautiful phrase, when you think about it. Staring a hot summer in the face and saying, "No, it should be cold right here forever" is a real triumph of science. Outdoor refrigeration has had an astounding history over the millennia: from those very first primitive "ice houses" in Mesopotamia, 1780 BC to the great American railway push to mass transport butchered meats across the country (in the mid-19th century, no less!)... Lucky for us, the ceaseless wheels of innovation never stop turning. Today, we have incredible residential machines that endlessly churn crescent ice, maintain decadently delicious wines, chill a wide spread of canned beverages, and so much more!
Downside? With that sleek innovation comes a whole lot of head-scratching. There is absolutely a Luxury or Premium refrigeration unit on the market for you — but how do you know what you need? Fear not, friends: that's where we come in! After politely asking (or bribing) our great service representatives for your most commonly asked questions, we've compiled this page to make your hunt for the perfect refrigeration solution that much easier.
If you have a question about outdoor refrigeration that isn’t listed here, reach out to our outdoor living experts by calling 1-844-530-8850!
General Outdoor Refrigeration Questions
What does ‘outdoor rated’ mean when it comes to outdoor refrigeration?
In layman’s terms? Safe to use outdoors. More specifically? To become ‘outdoor rated,’ a product has passed a rigorous set of durability and performance tests ran by Underwriters Laboratories. Ever seen the “UL” on an item? Since 1894, these guys have been a world leader in product safety testing and certification, testing billions of products. All ‘UL Rated’ products have met all standards for outdoor weather/temperature operation — they are certified as maintaining internal temps above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and are durable enough to withstand the elements outdoors.
What does ‘energy star rated’ mean when it comes to outdoor refrigeration?
‘Energy Star’ is a set of energy efficiency and environmental requirements backed by the government — the EPA, specifically. This standard ensures a lower energy footprint without sacrificing performance, and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In other words? Lower bill for you, less trouble for the planet. An Energy Star label guarantees that the product has met those standards. This isn’t common for outdoor products: most of them have to work too hard against the heat and elements to qualify.
What does ‘food safe’ certified mean?
NSF International, a third-party safety standards company, offers the benchmark for food safety in consumer products. NSF certified refrigeration products have passed their strict testing and evaluations to maintain temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (even outdoors), and are built with food-safe materials. It’s a pretty big deal — there’s essentially no safer or more confident standard for the American public.
What does ‘integrated’ or ‘panel ready’ mean?
Integrated or panel-ready units (surprise: they’re synonyms!) don’t come with a stainless steel door finish — they arrive without panels. This means you can choose whichever panel finish you want: stainless steel, wood paneling, and glass paneling, to name a few. They’re typically interchangeable, except for glass door options — glass paneling must be chosen at time of purchase. Otherwise, switching in glass requires completely replacing the door with a glass panel door in the future.
Outdoor Compact Refrigerator Questions
What is the difference between a freestanding refrigerator and a built-in refrigerator?
Freestanding units do just that — they stand freely, often with casters for greater mobility. On the other hand, built-in appliances are designed to be integrated into a kitchen counter, outdoor kitchen, or bar island; they’re a little smaller, but operate pretty much exactly the same. Built-in units must always be front-vented for proper exhausting of heat, and you will need to account for any electric and drainage needs specified by the model. Their freestanding cousins aren’t so picky about venting requirements — even so, err on the side of caution with enough room for proper exhaustion.
Do refrigerators need a drain to collect condensation?
In many cases, not really. Most refrigerators have a small drain hole at the bottom of the chamber where any condensation can drain into a small drain pan, which sits above the compressor. The heat from the compressor is enough to evaporate the water, which then exists the unit in the form of humidity. Happen to notice excess condensation inside your refrigerator, or water pooling on the bottom of the cabinet? Probably a blockage of this drain hole. If not that, there may be a larger problem at work with your compressor.
Will my outdoor refrigerator work if the temperatures outside are below freezing?
When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the vast majority of refrigerators call it quits and stop functioning altogether. Outdoor-rated appliances can usually handle 40-100 degrees Fahrenheit without too much stress, which is a much more pleasant operating environment. Heating elements in these appliances are rare, but some outdoor units on the market today have them — which helps them weather temperatures below freezing.
What is the difference between cold plate and forced air refrigerators?
Cold plate (or static cooling) refrigerators use a cooling element to pull out heat from the appliance; this is the old, less efficient style. Forced air refrigeration secretively cools air and circulates it throughout the cabinet. For more information, check out our Outdoor Refrigerator Buying Guide.
What is a dry-aging refrigerator?
Such unique appliances do one thing, and they do it extremely well: storing and dry-aging fine meats over long periods of time. Dry-aging refrigerators maintain temperature just above freezing and hold humidity at whatever level specified (This is based on your choice, which should itself be based on the type of meat — for example, beef requires a high humidity level like 85-90%). They also constantly circulate air across your meat, at a rate of 15 to 20 linear feet per minute. Again: very specialized units, specifically engineered for awesome dry-aged exquisite meats.
How do I clean my outdoor refrigerator?
These are the basic instructions for cleaning any indoor or outdoor refrigeration appliance. It will be this same set of steps for cleaning freezers, wine coolers, beverage coolers, kegerators, and ice makers, with a few exceptions. Make sure your freezer has completely thawed and drained before starting to clean. Ice makers and freezers both have drain systems that need to be inspected for deterioration, mold, & mildew.
- Unplug and empty the appliance
- Clean all removable parts with edible cleaners to dissolve odors
- Clean the cabinet with an edible cleaning solution and a sponge or microfiber cloth
- Clean the exterior with a good stainless steel cleaner
- Inspect the space below the unit (and if it has them, the drain pan and compressor) for any signs of contamination
- Connect power and let the appliance cool to the appropriate temperature
- Restock the appliance
Outdoor Freezer Questions
Will my outdoor freezer work if the temperatures outside are below freezing?
When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the vast majority of freezers abruptly stop functioning altogether (to the point that said freezers will outright begin to thaw food). Typically, outdoor-rated freezers can handle 40-100 degrees Fahrenheit without too much stress. Heating elements in these appliances are rare, but some outdoor units on the market today have them — which helps them weather temperatures below freezing.
How do I clean my outdoor freezer?
*See 'How do I clean my outdoor refrigerator?'
How noisy is an outdoor freezer?
Freezers contain the hardest-working compressors in the outdoor kitchen world. After all, it isn’t easy keeping frozen food from thawing during a hot summer! That being said, the noise level of an outdoor freezer will be minor (those Luxury units are quieter still). If you notice your unit making louder noises than usual, it could be a sign of a problem with your compressor. Get that checked out. Nobody likes a bad compressor, least of all the freezer. It hasn’t taken a day off yet — and it’s not going to start now!
What is automatic defrost and do I need it?
If you’re someone who likes having less things to do, automatic defrost is for you. Most refrigerators, freezers, and combo units on the market today offer automatic defrost controls (manual defrost is still around, but it’s rare). This setting functions by slightly heating the interior at intervals, which melts frost into the drain pan at the bottom of the unit. They use a bit more electricity than manual defrost refrigerators — those heating coils aren’t about to power themselves — but they don’t frost over or require unplugging, while their manual counterparts do.
Outdoor Beverage Cooler Questions
What is the difference between a refrigerator and beverage cooler?
Mainly, their lowest temperatures. Refrigerators are intended for storing food and hover above the freezing point to stop bacteria and cultures from growing. Carbonated beverages at this temperature tend to begin icing over and can explode if completely frozen, so this isn’t great for them. Storing soda pop on the top shelf of your refrigerator especially is rife for trouble, so some of you are likely more than aware of this already. On the other hand, a beverage cooler offers adjustable temperature, but generally operates about ten degrees higher than freezing. Great for storing frosty drinks! Bad idea for food storage.
Should I buy an outdoor compact refrigerator or beverage cooler?
Want to store food? Go with a refrigerator — there’s really no leeway on that. Simply want to store drinks and refreshments (not wine, you want a wine cooler for that) to guests in your outdoor space? Beverage coolers are the more cost-effective choice and will use less power, which saves you money in the long run. While you could use a refrigerator for drinks in a pinch (beware your drinks icing over!), the opposite isn’t true. Beverage coolers, as a reminder (we really can’t overstate this), cannot and will not stay cold enough to keep food safe.
How cold do beverage coolers get?
Typically, the 40-45 degree Fahrenheit range. Think Goldilocks rules here: too warm for safe food, too cold to store wine, just right for carbonated beverages and beer. (Remember her? Young girl in the woods, bothering a bear family just trying to pay their mortgage? Breaking and entering charges? Maybe we read a different version…) Some beverage coolers can drop as low as almost freezing, but such operation overworks the cooling system (and taps your energy bill in the meantime).
Are beverage coolers noisy?
Yes! In fact, this is what the vast majority of them are best at. There’s a reason all major flavors of smoking woods also exist as flavored pellets. All you have to do to smoke on a pellet grill is set the temperature controller to 225–250 degrees and treat your food as you would in any other smoker.
Can I put a beverage cooler on my countertop?
You’re looking for ‘counter depth’ beverage coolers, and yes — they work very well on a bar or outdoor kitchen countertop. Bear in mind that they’re smaller than built-in or freestanding beverage coolers but, despite less capacity, they again function basically the same way.
Outdoor Wine Cooler Questions
What is the difference between a single zone and dual zone wine cooler?
In this context, a “zone” would be a section that holds a single unified temperature. Set the internal chill level of the wine cooler, and the entire unit will stay at that desired level. Single zone units are best for people who enjoy a single kind of wine, or are just using the wine cooler to rapidly chill multiple bottles in service mode for events. Not a lot of variety there, but… for many wine enthusiasts, that can be plenty. Dual zone units are a little more ambitious: thanks to an internal partition, they maintain 2 separate cooling levels. For example, you could store bottles of both red and white wines. You see, reds and whites hate to agree — and one thing they’ll never see eye-to-eye on is temperature. Want to drink unhappy wine? Put ‘em both in the same zone — one (if not both) will be less than their best.
Do I need a dual zone wine cooler?
That depends. Use cases abound for a dual zone wine cooler: building a large or varied wine collection, keeping bottles from both sides of the color fence on hand, setting up long-term and short-term chilling options… Storing wine and serving wine are different temperatures, after all. Plan on popping a new cork? Cross a bottle over from the storage zone to the serving zone for 30 minutes to an hour upfront, and it’ll be ready to keep that party going in no time. Keeping a dual zone wine cooler around just racks up points in class and style.
How noisy are wine coolers?
Wine coolers tend to be quieter than other refrigeration appliances. The units with compressors still make some noise, but thermoelectric units have no moving parts and are whisper quiet. However, there’s no outdoor-rated thermoelectric unit on the market — if you want to plug this baby up outside to coddle your bottle collection, a compressor unit is the way to go. Sure, that means a little bit of noise, but it’s pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.
Do I need to clean my wine cooler? How do I clean it and how often?
You’ll want to clean it, yes. But we’re talking occasionally — barring tragedy, about once a year or so. *See 'How do I clean my outdoor refrigerator?'
What temperature should I set my wine cooler to?
|Wine type||Desired chilling temperature|
|Champagne, Sparkling, and Dessert Wines||40°F|
|Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio||45–48°F|
|Chardonnay and Chablis||48–52°F|
|Red Sparkling Wines||50–54°F|
|Beaujolais and Pinot Noir||60–64°F|
|Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz||64–66°F|
What is a thermoelectric wine cooler?
Unlike a compressor wine cooler — we’ll let you have a point if you can tell us why it’s called that —a thermoelectric wine cooler contains no moving parts and disperses heat from within the cabinet through a ‘cooling node’. It is a much faster, quieter, and easily more efficient appliance. The trade-off here is raw power. It gets great results, so long as the environment itself is cool and comfortable; this means all thermoelectric wine coolers must live indoors. If the temperature outside the unit is too warm, the unit cannot function properly.
Should I get an indoor or outdoor wine cooler?
We go over this in the Outdoor Wine Cooler Buying Guide, but that depends on you! Want to kick an outdoor bar into overdrive with a classy wine cooler featuring immaculate glass panels and blue LED lights? Pair it with an outdoor kegerator to be the envy of the local party circuit. On the other hand, indoor coolers seriously elevate the prestige of anywhere lucky enough to get one: bars, studies, libraries, great rooms, man caves, kitchens…
What would happen if I installed a freestanding wine cooler under my counter?
This will work with many freestanding wine coolers — but not all. The most important thing for an undercounter wine cooler is that it can properly vent heat, evaporate condensation, and has proper access to an electric outlet. This is why all built-in wine coolers are designed to be front-venting. If you are installing a wine cooler into your counter, pay strict attention to the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, and see to it that all ventilation and electric requirements are met.
Which type of wine cooler is right for me, thermoelectric or compressor?
Going outside? This makes the choice simple: thermoelectric isn’t an option. Compressor units are beefier, tougher, and more powerful overall — so long as you can’t cook an egg on it this unit will, one way or other, bring your bottles to ideal wine temperatures. But they have their own drawbacks: they make more noise, cause more vibrations (one of the things wine hates most), and require a strong, sturdy floor to support them. Thermoelectric wine coolers are smaller than compressor units, make less noise, cause far fewer vibrations, and have greater precision — but they absolutely require a comfortable, controlled climate.
Can I use my wine cooler to store my other beverages?
Sort of! You can put anything you want inside of your wine cooler, but these are proud, worthy appliances designed to be the perfect storage devices for bottles of — you guessed it — wine. Most beverages (for instance, soda pop) are kept very cold, to the tune of 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is below the standard range of temps that any given wine cooler can typically achieve. Some can get downright frigid, but wine likes to be kept warmer: between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. The exception here is dual zone wine coolers, which can easily keep one zone the optimal temperature for wine and the other zone nice and cold for frosty beverages.
What are the optimal conditions for aging wine?
We’re no sommeliers, but the ‘golden temperature’ for aging wine is 55 degrees Fahrenheit at 50% humidity. This can vary somewhat between types of wine, but that’s a safe rule of thumb. Other factors that can bother the aging process are light and vibration. These can cause unwelcome chemical reactions that make your wine taste bad. The final step in aging is ensuring that bottles are stored on their side while aging, to ensure the cork stays moist and doesn’t shrink, keeping a tight seal.
Are wine coolers good for aging wine?
While wine coolers can easily keep the golden temperature and humidity required for aging wine, this is not what wine coolers are designed for. Frequent vibrations (such as the opening and closing of the door) can be a very bad thing for the process. Wine appreciates darkness, and nobody wants to buy a beautiful wine cooler to keep out of sight. These appliances are generally meant to house wines that aren’t lined up to be aged. For aging wine into the long-term (most agree on 5 years or more), build a wine cellar. Unless, of course, shuttering your windows and vacating the property for half a decade is an option. That’d technically work too. Don’t forget to keep that energy bill on autopay!
Outdoor Ice Maker Questions
Can my ice maker double as a freezer?
That’s an ambitious idea, but not a smart one. Outdoor ice makers don’t chill their compartments with any sort of cooling system, so they aren’t refrigerators (we think “magic ice chest that’s never empty” sounds more appealing anyway). If your BBQ island ice maker was refrigerated, then you’d open the door to find a giant block of ice formed by the many individual cubes that expanded, contracted, melted, and froze again. Good luck fitting that in your cup.
The fact is ice makers never stop making ice. Old ice at the bottom of the unit melts and slips into the drainage system, and new ice falls from the mold to take its place. This cycle guarantees fresh, tasteless ice of the purest quality for every drink. It’s either that or old, stale ice that has spent weeks absorbing particles from the inside of the unit. We know which one we’d choose.
Because the compartment isn’t frozen, you should never use your ice maker to store food or anything else that gives off an odor. The odors will absorb into the ice, and what’s more, the cabinets of ice makers generally aren’t cold enough (below 38 degrees Fahrenheit) to halt the growth of bacteria and mold. It’s an ice maker, not a mold maker. That being said, there’s no harm in throwing a few beers into an ice maker to keep them chilled, but why would you do that when you can just get a drop-in ice bin for your outdoor kitchen?
Why does an ice maker need a drain?
Ice makers, being things that aren’t refrigerators, don’t typically have the actual means to cool themselves. Instead, all that ice they generate does all the heavy lifting in the ‘Please don’t melt’ department. Since ice is meant to be made and then slowly evaporate, or melt and then be steadily replaced by new ice, there has to be somewhere for that molten ice to go (or ‘water’, if you insist — we think ‘molten ice’ sounds cooler). The amount lost is usually fairly low, as it’s harvested and chilled back into ice, but there is some lost in the process somewhere. Hence, drain.
Does my ice maker need a drain pump? Is it better to have a gravity drain or drain pump?
Let’s keep it simple — if the water must travel pretty much anywhere besides straight down into a drain, you’ll need a drain pump. Otherwise, a gravity drain works just fine. We go over this more in the Outdoor Ice Maker Buying Guide.
Do I need a plumber to install my ice maker?
You know that part in the manufacturer’s instructions where they always say something like, ‘Nice warranty you’ve got there, it’d be a real shame if you lost it because you didn’t do exactly all the things we say?’ And how there are so many things in those manuals? Feels like some of these appliance installations have more steps than a Tibetan monastery. Turns out, they’re actually super serious about that (who knew?). A licensed plumber will do three things for you: ensure the appliance is installed to specification, keep your warranty from being ripped away, and — most importantly — do all of those many exhausting steps so you don’t have to.
What types of ice do ice makers make?
Nugget / Sonic Ice ® - Nugget ice, sometimes called Sonic ice ® is more crude in shape than most ice. However it is convenient to form since it requires no real shape mold. This ice is typically shards off of the blades, and is favored by many commercial businesses. Nugget ice is usually softer than cube or crescent ice and is favored by most people because it is easy to chew.
Gourmet Ice - Larger than most cubed ice, gourmet ice has a distinct top-hat or thimble shape. This ice is comprised of almost entirely water making the ice nearly crystal clear, and extremely effective at cooling drinks. The unique shape and rapid cooling properties of this ice make it popular among high-end restaurants and bars.
Crescent Ice - This ice cube shape is typical of many home refrigerator ice makers. It is a common, easy shape for an ice maker to produce. Crescent ice cubes are long with a flat top and round, or "crescent" bottom.
Cube Ice - Sometimes called clear ice or dice cube ice, cube-style ice is square in shape with no indentations, allowing more ice mass to chill drinks better. This ice is produced more commonly with high-end ice machines, and is often featured as one of the ice type selections. Cube or Dice ice measures between 1-1/8" - 7/8" along each side, depending on the brand of ice maker.
Can I change the type of ice cube my ice maker makes?
Sadly, no. The shape of the ice cube is determined by the manufacturer, although some models will let you change the size of the cube. Tell you what: invent the ice maker answer to the Freestyle machine — those soda kiosks pump out 165 different flavors, so ice shouldn’t be that hard — and give us a call. We mean it. We would love one.
How much ice should I get in a day?
Naturally, this depends on the model, brand, and type of ice. Soft ice makers (the ones that produce nugget ice or crescent ice) will produce much more ice in 24 hours. The other ice makers — gourmet, top hat, or cube ice — must work harder to make denser ice. Those take longer to melt, but longer to form. What is it with physics and compromises?
What is the difference between ice production and ice capacity?
Enough difference to be completely different things, as it would turn out. Ice production is how much ice your ice maker can will into being within 24 hours; ice capacity is how much ice your ice maker can hold at once before it cleverly stops making more. You should ask yourself how much ice you expect to need at any given moment, then compare that to how much you’d like to produce any given day. What’s your general expected use? Large events all the time? A bigger capacity is best. Only a few large gatherings a year? Could be better off with a smaller unit with decent production, then maybe storing some a day in advance in an ice chest.
How do I clean my ice maker?
*See 'How do I clean my outdoor refrigerator?'
How do I reset my ice maker?
Usually, this is a simple matter of turning the unit off and back on again (frankly, it’s astounding how often that works), but sometimes an ice maker needs to be ‘primed’ instead — by pressing a bar or level to ensure water is flowing into the molds. This is another one for the manufacturer’s manual, where it will always have detailed instructions on troubleshooting issues.
Does my ice maker need a water filter?
Yes, it does! Your ice maker will probably come with a water filter out of the box, and sometimes manufacturers even include a replacement. The filter removes contaminants and impurities, making your ice cleaner and clearer while ensuring your cubes contain no traces of taste that might taint your favorite whiskey. Because the water filter plays such an important role, you need to periodically check and replace the filter when it gets dirty or worn. Your owner’s manual is the first place you should turn to if you’re curious about what type of replacement filter you need, how to change it out, and how often it should be replaced (do you see how often that comes up?).
Will an outdoor ice maker run on my home’s standard current outlet?
Finally, a simple answer: yes. Ice makers generally plug in to a standard electrical outlet and do not need any special hardwiring.
Will my ice maker include a scoop?
Yes. Use that only. If you must replace it… Please never, ever use a glass scoop. We're not sure why they even make glass scoops.
Outdoor Kegerator Questions
How do I clean my Kegerator?
*See 'How do I clean my outdoor refrigerator?'
How long does beer last in a kegerator?
Depends on the beer. Non-pasteurized? When pressured by CO2 (carbon dioxide) and kept between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll get somewhere between 45-60 days. Not too shabby. Pasteurized? Double that to 90-120 days. Bear in mind, without CO2, a tapped keg will start to skunk after about 12 hours.
What are the different sizes of kegs?
Half Barrel or "Full Keg" is the standard keg size for American beer brewers and holds 165 12-ounce beers or 105 16-ounce beers.
Quarter Barrel or "Pony Kegs" come in either a short or tall shape, are commonly available for most beers in the USA, and hold 82 12-ounce beers or 62 16-ounce beers.
Sixth Barrel or "Torpedo Kegs" are often used by specialty or craft beer brewers and hold 56 12-ounce beers or 42 16-ounce beers.
What size keg will fit in my kegerator?
Most kegerators will fit 1 full keg, 2 pony or slim quarter kegs, or up to 4 torpedo kegs. If you’re thinking countertop, those will be your mini kegs. Many models now come with removable shelves to store bottles and cans along with your kegs — when used, that functionality does limit the size of keg that can be stored, so that could be a little something to keep in mind.
What is the difference between a single tap and dual tap kegerator?
For this context, tap means type. A single tap can serve 1 particular beer at a time, no matter how many smaller kegs you can squeeze into its interior. On the other hand, a dual tap kegerator has 2 (or more!) individual serving taps, and can therefore be used to serve multiple kinds of beer at one time. This gives your guests some variety of choice.
Do kegerators come with all the hoses and couplings I will need?
Some standard models probably don’t, but the models in our selection do. The kegerators we offer will always ship with all connectors and manifolds needed in the box.
What temperature should I set my kegerator to?
One of the small downsides to the awesomeness and versatility of different beers is that they can have very different ‘best’ serving temperatures. Serving something else strays even further from this spectrum. For an example or two? Wine and coffee (good thing we don’t have access to a coffee-spewing kegerator — half the staff would be wired enough to hear colors). Speaking relatively, your kegerator should stay between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit for beer, or 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit for wine.
Does a kegerator need CO2?
For beer? Absolutely. CO2 pressurizes your beer, keeping it frosty and carbonated (which is what you want) and providing the force necessary for dispensing through the tap (also what you want). On the other hand, wine and coffee kegerators think CO2 is beneath them and go for something a little more radical: nitrogen. Using nitrogen under pressure instead keeps coffee and wine from carbonating — which would be really terrible to drink, when you stop and wonder. Bear in mind, kegerators come with the tank but not nitrogen gas. Shipping a small tank of nitrogen gas under pressure is not generally considered a good idea.
Where do I get CO2 for my kegerator?
This is part and parcel of purchasing the keg — normally, they’ll have a CO2 reservoir attached.
How long does CO2 last in a kegerator?
Until they lose pressure. Basically, this completely depends on how much you use it — or how many beers your party guests are served. Generally, CO2 will last long enough to fully empty the keg.
How do I hook up/tap a keg to my kegerator?
First, let the keg cool in the kegerator. After ensuring you have the right coupler for the type of keg or beer you’re serving (heads up, most domestic beers will use the standard ‘D-system’ coupler), open the CO2 tank and set the pressure. This is a good time to make sure the regulator valves are fully open. Adjust that regulator to serving pressure, starting at 10 PSI — make necessary, incremental adjustments to balance the keg. Guarantee that the regulator is pressurized before tapping it. Once that’s out of the way, connect the keg coupler by twisting clockwise until snug, secure the lever, and then… Nope, that’s it! Pop that bad boy open and get the party flowing!
Do I need to clean the tap after every use?
Pretty much every keg whiz on the planet highly recommends cleaning out the beer lines every time you change kegs, so yes. If you want to be a keg whiz too, clean those lines! Don’t leave the old beer sitting in there before you send that next big party-maker through — all that’ll happen is that the last flavor will taint the taste of the new.
There’s also the sad fact that, left unbothered, beer is essentially a breeding ground for mold and mildew. You don’t want any delinquent contaminants trying to rev up their own party between your kegs and your cups, right? Cleaning between kegs is like sending in the cops to break up that party. You should really use a kegerator line cleaning kit for best results, but if you’re caught without one and in a rush? Hot soapy water, a good wire tube brush (with a very long handle) and a bit of elbow grease will work just fine.
Once a keg is tapped, does it have to remain chilled?
Sorry, we just had to stop and calm down our resident keg master — she had a fit. Yes. Keep that tapped keg chilled under all circumstances. Craft beer is very rarely pasteurized, if ever, and needs to be refrigerated to stay crisp, delicious, and safe to drink. Domestic beer will depend on the brewer. Now, it’s a bit of a myth that beer skunks when warmed up after going cold, but it’s safe to say that being warm in general is kryptonite to beer. Only certain beers can be kept in warm storage (mostly those with very high hops and alcohol content, which act as preservatives). Why even chance it? Keep that beer frosty — and only store your kegs in a cellar or warm storage if the specific manufacturer suggests that practice.
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