Looking for options to serve your draft beer home brew on the go? Here’s a roundup of some of the available options for your next tailgate, party 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
Growlers: 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.Growler Filling Tips and Tricks
Place a clean growler in your kegerator with an ounce or two of Star San in the bottom. After the growler is completely chilled, swish the Star San around to coat the inside and discard. Now you have a sanitized, cold and wet growler that’s ready to fill. The cold and wet part will help reduce foaming. Turn down the pressure on your kegerator (maybe 3 or 4 PSI) and fill using a piece of tubing on your faucet that is long enough to reach the bottom of your growler. Doing this will keep foaming to a minimum and decrease the introduction of oxygen. Cap on foam and you’re done. Related: Growler Fillers
2L Brown Swing Top Growler. This is a great growler that I use myself. One concern with this is the possibility of broken glass. Not a good thing around parks, pools and beaches. If this is a concern for you, check out some of the other options below.
Stainless Growlers: The remaining growlers are stainless. These are great because you can take them to the park, beach or pool without being concerned about broken glass. They also generally look amazing.
Lifeline 7508 Silver Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Double Wall Barrel Style Growler – 64 oz. Capacity 64 oz+, 18/8 Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler. This is labeled as 64 oz but I think it’s actually a little larger – See: [Hands on Review]. The extra space gives you head space, much like a traditional glass growler. Additional Colors and a Carrier are also available.
Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Drinking Bottle 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.
Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Growler in Hammertone Navy or Hammertone Green – See: [Hands on Review] Features vacuum insulated body and foam insulated lid to keep beer cold for hours. Made of 18/8 stainless steel and BPA free. The heavy duty handle makes it easy to carry and allows you to pour smoothly with one handle. Steel inner lid means no plastic is in contact with your beer. I have this growler and it’s awesome.
Klean Kanteen 64-Ounce Insulated Growler With Swinglok Cap 64 Ounce Stainless Steel Growler with large (1.75″) opening. Flip top lid. Vacuum insulation means that your beer will stay cold for a long time. Also available in a smaller 32 oz size
Carbonation Caps: 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. You can squeeze the bottle to expel extra head space. When you pressurize the head space is filled up with CO2. You can also use carbonation caps to help fine tune carbonation levels or carbonate quickly.
The Carbonator Plastic. Fits 28mm PET Bottles. This has a built in ball lock connection so you can hook it right up to your [ball lock] kegerator CO2 lines.
Kent Systems Soda Bottle Cap and QD This system works with bothball and pin lock setups. Just add a tee to your CO2 line [or otherwise hook the QD up to your gas system] and use to pressurize. The QD and caps are available separately so you can pickup multiple caps economically.
Stainless Steel Carbonator Cap from Brew Hardware. Same idea as other carbonation caps… just made out of stainless steel.
Similar models available at Amazon – Stainless Carbonation Cap with 5/16″ Barb Ball Lock Type, Fit Most Soft Drink PET Bottles | UP100 Line Cleaning Cap Stainless Carbonation Cap Counter Pressure Bottle Filling,w/ 5/16″ Barb
Hybrid Solution: 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.
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.
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.
The Party Pig uses 2.5 Gallon PET Bottles along with pressure pouches. The pouches take the place of CO2 that would normally be required. Update 6/2016 – there was talk that Party Pig was going away, but it’s my understanding as of this update that the company has been purchase and intends to keep making Party Pigs, Pouches and Accessories.
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.
Growler Fillers: These allow you to easily attach a length of tubing to your faucet for the purpose of filling a growler. They can just as easily be used to fill a small kegging system or small keg. Just use a longer piece of tubing.
MoreBeer offers two versions of this. One for standard faucets and one for Perlick 525 faucets. Just add a length of 3/8″ tubing to either one of these and you’re up and going.
Growler Filler for Perlick 600 Series Faucets – Perlick 600 Series compatible growler filler and 12″ tubing. The tubing allows you to fill from the bottom up – helping to decrease foam and oxygen pickup.
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.
QD and faucet assemblies. These are nice because they generally work and look great and take up minimal space.
Also available in a Pin Lock Version
Flow Control Faucet. 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.
Handheld CO2 Charger 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.
Sources (no QD – Add your own ball or pin lock QD): Amazon
CO2 Injector Pin Lock. Pin lock version of the handheld CO2 Charger.
Mini CO2 Regulator. Similar to the handheld unit above, but with a regulator and 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. It’s good for more than just portable serving, but that is one application. 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.
0~60 Psi Home Brew Premium Regulated Co2 Charger Kit Anodised Aluminium Body. Made of machined, anodized aluminum and uses 3/8″ threaded 16 gram co2 cartridges. MFL threaded connection to add your own pin or ball lock QD. 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.
The Adapter II Paintball Gauge. 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.
Misc Tank Adapters. 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.
Ball Lock 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-style kegs you know and love. These kegs usually fit well in a 5 gallon bucket. Fill with ice and you’re good to go.
AIH New Double Rubber Handle 2.5 Gal Keg – Brand new 2.5 gallon ball lock keg.
Torpedo Kegs from MoreBeer are available in 1.5, 2.5 and 5 gallon sizes. These are brand new ball lock kegs. The neat thing about this is that they stack with fittings on. That means you can get multiple kegs in the same footprint as one. Typically small ball lock kegs cost more than 5 gallon kegs. Torpedo Kegs are an exception. Also, all sizes ship for free.
Portable Systems: 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. Some insulating keg wraps are available as well. One of those to take a look at would be Great Fermentations Xtreme Keg Wrap. That is a lot thicker than most on the market and as such keeps 5 gallon kegs colder for longer.
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. 🙂
- Get it in place ahead of time and let it settle.
- Filter it. Hands on Review
- Transfer clear beer to a new keg and leave yeast and trub behind.
Glassware: 4 Pack of rugged and shatterproof IPA cups. 17 oz capacity. BPA Free. Rugged and Shatterproof. Since these are plastic they are park, beach and pool friendly. No worrying about broken glass. via Fermented Reality. Check them out – Here
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