Draft Beer Equipment

Written by Christopher Ransom
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Draft beer equipment is about much more than just taps and tap handles. To practice the art of draft beer, to become a meister, one must enter the world of black & tan spoons, CO2 regulators, Mr. Brew Keg kits, and much much more. The alchemist who commits himself to serving draft beer is a person who takes pride in the beer he serves and wants to serve his guests not just a beer, but also an experience. If this sounds like a lot of work, it doesn't have to be. In fact, learning about the tools of the trade will help you decide just how serious you want to get, and what types of draft beer equipment you'll need to serve your favorite brand. Guinness draft, which in my opinion epitomizes the draft beer experience, requires a different cooling temperature and tap system than, say, Budweiser.

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, the brand of beer you drink and serve is very important. Your brand not only places you in a certain cultural context; it may have an impact on your wallet. Just remember, you are ultimately the one who is going to use your bar the most, so there's nothing wrong with inexpensive brands and simple set-ups.

Draft Beer Equipment--Beyond The Tap

I've already discussed some of the common tap components for serving draft beer. Now we'll look at the little things that make the difference. The black & tan spoon I mentioned above is used to keep separate beers living in harmony inside the same glass. The name black & tan refers to the popular pint that originated in Ireland consisting of 1 part Guinness draft (the black, named so for its dark color), 1 part Harp lager (the tan, named for its lighter golden brown color). A true half and half requires that you pour the tan first, filling half of the pint. Then, holding the spoon under the Guinness tap, you will slowly pour the Guinness over the spoon so that it runs into the pint without overly diluting the tan, leaving you with a "stacked" split combination of the two.

Other draft beer equipment includes the drip tray, which is an easy way to keep your bar clean by catching beer that overflows from the glass or drips from the tap. These come in a variety of sizes to fit your bar. You may also want to invest in a faucet lock to keep your kids or neighbors from taking your beer when you're not around. Beer line cleaning kits are also a must for keeping your tap lines clean and free of stale beer. A cold plate is a brick-sized chunk of metal with cooling lines inside to keep your beer extra cold as it flows through the tap lines, a nice feature on hot days. The list goes on and on, but you can be sure to get whatever draft beer equipment you need to complete your bar by asking the experts in an online forum, at a bar, or by consulting your supplier.


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