Looking for options to serve your draft beer on the go? Here’s a roundup of some of the available options for your next tailgate or get together.
Included in this Post:
- Carbonation Caps – used with PET Bottles
- A Hybrid Solution
- Small Draft Systems
- Tips and Tools for Filling Growlers and Small Draft Containers
- Techniques and equipment for dispensing full corny kegs of beer
- Portable Systems
- Other Issues: Chilling and Cloudiness
One of the easiest options to serve your homebrew on the go is filling up a growler. See below for tips on getting a good growler fill. Standard growlers are easy to be had. This section focuses on some of the more interesting options.
2L, German made growler. This is a great growler that I use myself.
The remaining growlers are stainless. These are great because you can take them to the beach or the pool without being concerned about broken glass…
64 oz, 18/8 Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler. The vacuum insulation on this thing is amazing. Check out my extensive Hands on Review that includes temp trials.
64 oz+, 18/8 Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler. It’s labeled as 64 oz but it’s actually about 69 oz. That extra space gives you head space, much like a traditional glass growler. Check out my Hands on Review of this growler.
If you’re looking for a double wall, vacuum insulated growler, this is my current top pick.
64 oz, 18/8 Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler. Same idea as the smaller (7500) Lifeline, generally speaking, this one is a bit more expensive.
Mini Keg Style Growler from Deep Wood Products.
Carbonation caps allow you to pressurize your beer inside of 1 and 2 Liter PET bottles for quick carbonation and transport.
Fill the 1L or 2L Bottle just like you would a growler, put on a carbonating cap and pressurize for easy transport.
This has the advantage of being more economical and safer vs a glass growler. Generally, PET plastic bottles will not shatter. Also, handy if you want to go into an area that restricts glass such as a pool area.
The “Carbonator Cap“. Same idea as the Kent Systems Cap. This has a built in ball lock connection so you can hook it right up to your kegerator CO2 lines.
At $9.99, RiteBrew’s offering is the best price I’ve seen on a Carbonator Cap.
The Drink Tanks Growler (with Keg Cap) is a hybrid between a growler and a small draft setup. It has a double wall, vacuum seal, stainless design and the Keg Cap provides includes tubing and a faucet. With the Keg Cap installed, the Drink Tanks Growler is a portable, small draft setup. An included CO2 charger pressurizes the system. With the double wall insulation (depending on your surroundings) you can use this without chilling it for a good bit of time.
Check it out – Here
Small Draft Setups:
Small kegging setups that lend themselves to easy transport. You can either fill from your kegerator or bottle condition directly in these.
Tap a Draft System. I’m a happy Tap a Draft user. This system comes with three 1.5 Gallon Bottles, A Tap and CO2 Cartridges for serving. 4.5 gallon total capacity is just about the perfect size for a finished 5 gallon batch. Or, fill one bottle up off of your kegerator faucet. This tap also works with 3L PET Soda Bottles.
Party Pig Beer Dispenser. Party Pig bottles hold 2.25 Gallons of Beer. Instead of using CO2 Cartridges, the party pig uses an expanding pouch.
The BeerBox uses 2.75 Gallon food grade HDPE Containers. These are sized to easily fit in a refrigerator or cooler. Each container contains an integrated port for a CO2 injector. Multiple tap styles are available. You can condition and carbonate directly in these or fill from your larger kegging system.
About (via the manufacturer Brewing Tools): “The BeerBox™ is a 2.75 Gallon Container which is 9.625” high, 6.5” wide and 15.9” long and made of sturdy food grade HDPE plastic (much thicker than a PET soda bottle and dark enough that there is no light permeation, either). The front panel allows for a 4”x4” label for your brew which can be easily viewed. The BeerBox™ fits in a standard refrigerator making storing your home brew easier than ever. The portability of your home brew is simple – just grab it by its ergonomically designed handle go out the door with the hose tap adaptor and tap, you can pour fresh home brew from inside a cooler with ease.”
Tips and Tools for Filling Growlers and Small Draft Containers:
Filling a growler or small draft dispenser from your draft setup is an easy and straightforward process…
- Start with a cold growler. I suggest putting it in your kegerator so it’s the exact same temperature as your beer. This will reduce foaming.
- Having a wet growler also helps reduce foam. Put Star San in your growler prior to chilling, swirl it around to coat all surfaces and discard just prior to filling. If you’ll be drinking the growler right away, you can just use fresh, cold tap water.
- If you’re using picnic taps a 3/8″ ID section of tubing should fit nicely on the end of your taps. If you’re using a Perlick style faucet, a section of 1/2″ ID tubing should fit on your faucet. Make sure the tubing is long enough to hit the bottom of the growler. Turn down the pressure to 4 or 5 psi and slowly fill. Close on foam and you’re good to go.
These allow you to easily attach a length of tubing to your faucet for the purpose of filling up a growler.
RiteBrew offers three versions – more if you count their longer tubing versions. One each for standard, Perlick 500 Series and Perlick 600 Series Faucets.
Serving your full Corny Keg of Beer: Now we transition into solutions for serving full Cornelius kegs of beer. Combine your keg full of homebrew with some sort of faucet and a CO2 source.
These are nice because they work great, take up minimal space and looks great.
- Flow control allows you to dispense beer fast and foam free, you can also use shorter hose length and 1/4″ hose length for faster flow. The flow control valve will allow you to restrict the beer flow and control foam, so beer length and I.D. is not important! (you can even use the braided soda style hose if you prefer).
- Extremely high quality German Made Product. Made for Commercial use in large volume event settings (or to deliver your homebrew at a party with Perfection!)
- Easy to use and simple to take apart and clean.
- Parts made from NSF approved Plastics and Stainless Steel. Sanitary/food service grade product.
This hand held faucet has built in flow control. Variable flow control means you can change the resistance that this faucet provides. That’s great for high carbonation beers and it also means less tubing.
Draft Jockey Boxes:
These are for serving beer that isn’t necessarily cold yet. Ice in the cooler gets beer down to serving temperature quickly. These can take some work to dial in. I’d consider a draft box only for bigger events where you’re going to serve a considerable amount of beer.
If you’re looking for a single tap Jockey Box. This Home Brew Stuff offering can be a bargain.
Mini Jockey Box Refreshment System – $99.99
These handheld chargers are compact and easy to use. If you go with this option, I’d recommend running the thing yourself. Guests tend to squeeze it for fun and sport and empty out the cartridge in short order. You just need a couple of taps to keep the pressure at an acceptable level for serving.
Similar to the handheld unit above, but with a regulator and much larger CO2 cartridges. The CO2 cartridge on this is more than 4 times larger than the injector featured above. The regulator also means it takes care of itself. I have one of these and love it. Check out my Hands on Review. It has come in handy as a backup CO2 source when my main tank ran empty. You could also use this to keep an already carbonated keg at a different pressure/carbonation level from your main CO2 source.
74g CO2 Cartridges: More Beer
Mini ball lock co2 regulator. Made of machined, anodized aluminum and uses 3/8″ threaded 16 gram co2 cartridges. Includes a ball lock quick disconnect. Since it has an MFL fitting, you should be able to swap that out for a pin lock QD.
This is similar in function to handheld CO2 chargers with the notable difference that it includes a regulator. The regulator lets you set a specific pressure.
Use for portable dispensing of your keg of homebrew.
Use a compact Paintball CO2 tank to dispense your beer using this CO2 regulator designed for the task. Much more portable than your 5, 10 or 20 lb tank.
Adventures in Homebrewing has a number of adapters that allow you use use other types of tanks and regulators together. The selection includes the pictured adapter that allows you to use a Sodastream tank with your CO2 Regulator and adapters that allow you to use paintball tanks with your CO2 Regulator.
Check out AIH’s CO2 Tanks and Accessories Page for more info.
Cornelius Keg Hand Pump. If you know you’re going to go through a whole keg, or multiple kegs, this hand pump is a great option. No tubing or CO2 to bother with. Of course, it’s going to cause oxidation, but that doesn’t matter if you’re drinking the beer quickly.
Smaller 2.5 to 3 Gallon Cornelius Style Kegs:
Smaller, more portable versions of the cornelius kegs you know and love. These kegs usually fit well in a 5 gallon bucket. Fill with ice and you’re good to go.
There are some systems on the market that are designed with portability in mind.
A 5-6 gallon bucket with ice has worked well for me. Some of the cube and beverage coolers fit smaller 2.5 and 3 gallon kegs well. Jockey Boxes are also an option.
If you don’t filter your beer and decide to strap your keg on the back of an ATV and take off, you’ll soon figure out why people filter their beer as your guests remark at how Budweiser doesn’t have the same chunks of yeast that your beer has.
Got an option to add to the list? Email Homebrew Finds!
Tips and Gear for Your Kegerator:
- Brand New, NSF Certified 5 Gallon Ball Lock… $75
- Keg O-Rings: Dip Tube – Silicone · Post – Silicone · Lid – Silicone
- Ball Lock Kegging System
- Used Gallon Ball Lock Kegs – $59.99
- Used Pin Lock Kegs – $34.99
- Perlick 630SS Forward Sealing Faucet – $39.49
- Replacement Keg Lid – $13.79
- Balancing Your Draft System
- Four Way CO2 Manifold – $36.99 – 1/4″ MFL with Check Valves
- Eva-dry E-500 for Kegerator Condensation – Handling Kegerator Condensation
- Great Deal: Universal Poppets – $2.19
- Tap Handle Angler – Keeps long handles from touching your wall or refrigerator
- Update International DTS-419 Rectangular Stainless Steel Drip Tray
- Inkbird ITC-1000 Dual Stage Temperature Controller – First Looks
- Johnson Controls Digital Thermostat Control Unit
- Kegerator Beer Line Temperatures & Reducing Foam with a Recirculating Fan
- Temperature Probe Placement – To Immerse or Not To Immerse
- Keg Gaskets and Replacement Part Numbers
- Tip: Check for Gas Post CO2 Leaks