Best Keg Taps

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

19 Models Considered
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best keg taps

Last Updated October 2020

Maybe your team just won the big game and it’s time to celebrate. Maybe you’re throwing a big party for family and friends. Whatever the occasion, a keg is an apt choice. It’s more environmentally friendly than grabbing several cases of beer there are no beer bottles and caps to deal with, and if you choose, you can take the keg back for a refill in the future.

When you get a keg, you need a keg tap. Sure, you could rent one, but if you throw more than one or two parties a year, it makes more sense to buy your own keg tap than to rent one from someone else.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when you get your own tap: size, type of keg, and ease of setup, to name a few. You also need to understand some of the basics about pressurizing the keg and using the tap. In this guide, we present the information on keg taps to help you decide which one would be best for you. 

Keg taps are technically known as keg couplers, but either name is correct.

Key considerations

System type

There are six major types of connectors for beer pumps. Most American beers use a D-system connector. European taps use S-system connectors, and German taps use A-system or M-system connections. Be sure to get the correct type of keg tap for the beer you’re drinking. The wrong type will not fit, and your party will be over before it starts.

Keg

There are two main types of kegs for which you need a keg tap. Kegs are not standardized, so the numbers below are approximate and may vary from one beer distributor to another.

Full keg: A full keg is equal to about half of a barrel of beer, holding 15.5 gallons.

Pony keg: This size holds roughly a quarter of a barrel of beer, about 7.75 gallons.

If you get a keg smaller than a pony keg, it probably comes with a gravity-assisted tap at the bottom, and you won’t need a keg tap for it. These small kegs, under 7 gallons, are usually recyclable.

Pump vs. gas

Beer keg taps may be pump operated or gas operated.

Pump-operated taps must be pumped by hand to maintain pressure inside the keg. They are generally 7 to 8 inches high in addition to the coupler itself. These are sometimes referred to as portable or picnic taps. They are complete by themselves and don’t require anything extra, except for the keg they’re attached to.

Gas-operated taps are shorter and have two line connectors on them: one line for dispensing beer and one for introducing CO2 or nitrogen gas into the beer keg to pressurize it. Different beers require different gases.

Pump size

The pump on a pump-operated keg tap stands higher than it does on a gas-operated tap. If you’re trying to put your keg in the refrigerator, you’ll have to remove shelves to make room for the pump. 

It’s also worth noting that transporting a keg with a pump tap attached and sticking out leaves it vulnerable to being hit and broken off. Keep the tap and the keg separate until you reach your destination.

EXPERT TIP

Keep your beer chilled. It begins releasing carbon dioxide (and going flat) above 38ºF.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Material

A keg tap has to maintain pressure on the beer keg while allowing the beer to release in a controlled fashion. For that, a tap needs to be constructed from metal that can withstand the pressure. Keg tap pumps are made from stainless steel, which is often chrome-plated to keep it shiny and clean. The bases are made from nickel-plated brass or chrome-plated stainless steel.

Rubber and plastic are used for the gaskets, O-rings, tubing, and faucet.

Locking lever

Most keg taps have a lever on the coupler, just above the base. This is a locking lever that locks the keg tap in place once it is seated. Without this, random jostling of the keg could cause the tap to pop off. Some budget-priced keg taps don’t have this lever; they simply rely on pressure to keep the tap in place.

Pump

Most pumps on keg taps are cylindrical with a ball handle on the end. A few pumps have a wide push valve that resembles an oversized button.

Pressure vent

A nice feature we wish more keg taps had is a pressure relief valve or vent. Some keg taps do have one, and it helps stop the formation of foam when you’re pumping up the pressure. As a result, you don’t waste as much beer with unnecessary foam.

Setup

Keg taps don’t require you to be a muscleman to put them in place, but a little elbow grease is required. You’ll have to push down against the internal pressure in the keg to get the coupler seated. Once it’s down, rotate it a quarter turn to secure it. Then, engage the locking lever. It shouldn’t take more than a minute to seat the coupler and secure it.

DID YOU KNOW?

At temperatures above 50ºF, bacteria growth begins taking place in beer, changing the taste.

Accessories

Replacement faucets: Wrewing Plastic Picnic Keg Tap Faucet
On keg taps, the faucet for dispensing the beer takes lots of use and abuse. This pack of four from Wrewing will connect to most standard keg taps and prevent frustration if a faucet breaks in the middle of a party.

Keg cooling bag: Cool Brewing LLC Keg Cooler Bag
Keeping your keg chilled from top to bottom won’t be a problem with this insulated cooling bag from Cool Brewing LLC. Put in a layer of ice, put in the keg, and pack ice all around it. Zip it up and let it chill. There’s even a small zipper opening on top for the keg tap.

Keg tap cleaning kit: BACOENG Advanced Hand Pump Pressurized Keg Beer Cleaning Kit
Sanitation is a must for your keg tap. This cleaning kit from BACOENG has all the cleaning equipment and brushes you need to keep your tap in pristine condition between uses.

Keg tap prices

Inexpensive: The low price range for keg taps is $24 up to about $40. These taps are plastic or simply of lower quality. The main problem in this price range is the inability of the tap to keep the keg pressurized.

Mid-range: The medium price range sits between $40 and $60. These are mostly stainless steel, chrome, and brass taps that do the job for American and European beer kegs.

Expensive: Over $60 is the high price range where you’ll find quality construction as well as A-system taps for German beers.

DID YOU KNOW?

American D-system keg taps are difficult to visually distinguish from German A-system keg taps, so double-check the product specs if you’re not sure.

Tips

  • Remember to chill the keg tap for at least an hour before using it. Otherwise, your beer will lose carbonation when it contacts the warm tubing in the system.

  • Keep in mind that the first two or three glasses of beer from a fresh keg will be mostly foam. Don’t keep adding beer to them. Set them aside and let them settle.

  • Keep your glass tilted at an angle when pumping beer into it. Otherwise, you’ll create excess foam.

  • Don’t over-pressurize the keg. If you do, you’ll wind up blasting out more foam than beer, creating a huge mess in the process.

Other products we considered

We like the Bimini Brewing Company Heavy-Duty Beer Party Hand Pump. This is a D-system coupler that will attach to all American brands of beer in kegs or pony kegs. The rubber tubing is NSF food safe, the pump is made of chrome-plated brass, and the coupler itself is stainless steel. An extra plastic faucet is included. This is a solid, middle-of-the-road party pump that has been beefed up to give it strength and durability. 

We also like the PERA Beer Keg Coupler Party Pump. It uses a standard ball pump handle for easy pumping that won't hurt your hand. The metal pump is chrome-plated for ease of maintenance and sanitation. The keg coupler, pump, and beer line are assembled and ready to go right out of the box. 

Keg pumps use outside air to pressurize the keg, but that air has bacteria in it and can spoil the beer within 12 to 24 hours, so you need to drink it before that time.

FAQ

Q. How often should my keg tap be cleaned?
A. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning it every two to three weeks or every half keg.
 

Q. Why did beer come out of the keg tap before I started pumping it?
A. The natural carbonation of beer creates pressure inside the keg. Once you attach the pump, that pressure will fill a glass or two before you have to start pumping.
 

Q. How do I know if I’ve got the right pressure on the keg?
A. You’ll know the pressure is right if it takes about six to eight seconds to fill a 16-ounce cup.

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    Ciera Pasturel
    Digital Content Producer
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    Editorial Director
  • Melinda Snowden
    Melinda Snowden
    Web Producer
  • Melissa Nott
    Melissa Nott
    Senior Editor
  • Michael Pollick
    Michael Pollick
    Writer
  • Steph Coelho
    Steph Coelho
    Web Producer

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