Portable Beer Serving Options!

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:

  • Growlers
  • 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.

2L, German made and pressure capable.  This is a great growler that I use myself.

Sources: More Beer - Northern Brewer - AIH - Midwest Supplies

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.  This growler is a Top Find.

Lifeline 7500 Silver Stainless Steel Growler – 64 oz. Capacity

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.

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.  Same idea as the smaller (7500) Lifeline, generally this one is a bit more expensive.

Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Drinking Bottle

 


Mini Keg Style Growler from Deep Wood Products.

 

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.  See a full write up on the Kent Systems solution here.

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.


Kent Systems Soda Bottle Cap and QD



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.

Sources: More Beer - AIH - Label Peelers - Northern Brewer - Midwest Supplies - Amazon

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.

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.

SourcesMore Beer - Northern Brewer - Amazon

Party Pig Dispenser

Party Pig bottles hold 2.25 Gallons of Beer.  Instead of using CO2 Cartridges, the party pig uses an expanding pouch.

SourcesAIH - Amazon - Midwest Supplies

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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 jut prior to filling.  If you’ll be drinking the growler right away, you can just use fresh, cold tap water.
  3. 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.
 
More Beer sells some very economical stainless growler fillers.  These slip right in your faucet.
 


There are two versions of this.  One for standard faucets and one for Perlick faucets.  Just add a length of 3/8th” tubing to either one of these and you’re up and going.

Stainless Steel Growler Filler – Fits Standard Faucets D1222

Stainless Steel Growler Fillers – For Perlick 525 Faucet D1224

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.

Faucet Options:

This is nice because it provides plenty of resistance for foam control, takes up minimal space and looks great.

Sources: More Beer - Amazon - AIH

Pin Lock Version:

Pin Lock QD Faucet Assembly


Draft 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.

 


Sources: More Beer - Adventures in Homebrewing

Sources: More Beer - Adventures in Homebrewing - Northern Brewer

Cold plates are available separately if you want to put your own draft box together.

1 Circuit/Tap - 2 Circuits/Taps


Of course, you can also use a picnic or cobra tab and tubing

 
CO2/Pressure Options:
 
These handheld chargers are great.  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.

Ball Lock Handheld CO2 Charger


Pin Lock Version:
CO2 Injector Pin Lock

Keg Charger without QD.  Same ideas as the previous two options, just add your own pin or ball lock QD.
 

Sources: Amazon - Northern Brewer - AIH - Label Peelers

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.  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.

Sources: More Beer (Ball Lock or Pin Lock), Midwest Supplies (with CO2no CO2)


74g CO2 Cartridges: More Beer - Midwest Supplies
 

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.

Paintball Tank Regulator


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.

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.

Ball Lock Hand Pump
 
2.5 Gallon Kegs
If you’re looking for a smaller, more portable keg, check out this 2.5 gallon model.  I own two of these and they are great.
 
 
Portable Systems:
There are some systems on the market that are designed with portability in mind.
The “Tailgate Kegging System” from Adventures in Homebrewing includes a new 3 gallon keg, small CO2 tank, regulator, tubing, disconnects and faucet.  Check it out - Here
This 2.5 gallon system from More Beer includes a new 2.5 gallon keg, CO2 tank, regulator, tubing disconnects and faucet.  Check it out - Here

Other Issues:Chilling
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.  
 
Cloudiness
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.
 
Options…
1.  Get it in place ahead of time and let it settle.
2.  Filter it.  Hands on Review - Here
3.  Transfer clear beer to a new keg and leave any yeast behind.

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