If you make your own home brew, then you want to be able to serve it at its best quality. For some, that means bottling it, and keeping it chilled in the fridge.
For others, the keg presents the perfect solution. And if you want your brew kept frosty, then you need a kegerator or keezer.
Kegerator and keezer may sound strange, but they’re actually fairly simple concepts. A kegerator is a combination of a keg and a refrigerator. A keezer is a keg and a freezer.
These great designs allow you to serve your brew fresh and cold with just the pull of a faucet. If you want your cold brew to be at the highest of quality, then you want to get the right tap.
This guide tells you everything to know, so you can buy a faucet as fantastic as your home brew.
The Fundamentals of Beer Taps and Faucets
Beer taps and beer faucets are often thought to be the same thing, and some people do use them interchangeably. However, the two are distinctly different.
The beer tap refers to the line which connects into the keg, and “taps” the beer.
The faucet, on the other hand, refers to the valve that is used to dispense the drink into your glass. So, the tap brings the drink to the faucet, and from there it goes into your glass.
At some point, you may also hear the term “shank”. This is another term for the tap.
It’s fairly common to hear the entire mechanism simply referred to as the beer tap. Many home brewers prefer to use the term just because it’s quicker than explaining the distinct systems.
However, it is important to know the difference. When it comes to ordering parts and replacements, or trying to find a fault, you need to know which bit is which.
The tap and faucet work in combination to provide you with the right pour, and give you control over your serve. Mechanisms can be modded and adjusted to suit a range of pours.
For example, you can get a nitro tap, which helps in dispensing thick and creamy stouts. Or, you can get a faucet that helps funnel into a growler.
Once you’ve spent all that time on home brewing, you want to be sure your dispensing system has the quality to match.
Now you know exactly what one is, you need to know which tap and faucet are best for you.
Beer taps and faucets come in a range of materials, but some are definitely more popular than others. Chrome plated brass and stainless steel are two of the most popular materials.
Stainless steel faucets are expensive initially, but they are the best option. Stainless steel doesn’t corrode, which gives it a long life and an easy clean. Ideal for a keg.
Chrome plated brass is affordable, but it doesn’t work out in the long run. Inevitably, it will start to break down and corrode. This happens partly because of the necessary cleaning, but also just from the beer itself.
And corroding metal is not good. It starts to smell, and then gets into the brew. If you’ve noticed your home brew has a bit of a stink, it might be coming from the tap.
Plastic taps are also available, but they often aren’t very good. Plastic taps can also break down and erode, again adding a bit of a stink to the beer.
They also don’t have the same smooth function that you expect from the metal options.
And they can break easily, especially if you’re over enthusiastic. Plastic beer taps and faucets can be fine, but they tend to be more of a stop gap.
Do yourself a favor - by an easy cleaning tap. In the long run, even in the short run, you’ll be grateful.
Beer taps and faucets need regular cleaning. It really isn’t something you can get around, unless you enjoy your drink with a bad smell and bits floating around.
Beer, by design, is passing through all parts of the tap. If it isn’t cleaned away, it starts to accumulate, and then it can grow mold. A lot of tastes go well in beer, but mold is definitely not one of them.
Anyone who has ever spilled beer knows that it can get sticky as well. When it builds up in the tap, components just can’t move properly.
Not only is this infuriating, it also wastes beer. This sticky build up also leads to corrosion, because beer can be slightly acidic.
Stainless steel really is the best material for cleaning, and it doesn’t corrode. If you can afford it, using stainless steel across your home brewing equipment is ideal.
Cleaning your tap should become a regular, unthinking action. Give it a wipe down after every pour or so, and keep everything as dry as possible.
When beer has been dripping or spilled, get into the habit of cleaning it up quickly. Also, get into the habit of fully cleaning the kegerator or keezer. It keeps you, the beer, and the keg healthier for longer.
The Different Types of Beer Tap Faucets
So, that’s the very basics of the beer tap and faucet. Hopefully, you have a decent understanding of what they are, and the kind of things to look out for.
It’s not quite as easy as just going out and finding a stainless steel faucet. There are three different types of beer faucet that you’re likely to find for sale: standard, European, and nitro.
Standard faucets are, unsurprisingly, the type you’re most likely to see available. They’re designed to work for a wide variety of different home brews, and compatible with multiple keg types.
A standard faucet can be attached to the draft tower of your kegerator, or through the wall via a tap. The ⅜ inch threaded lever fits into basically any tap, and is easy to use.
Brass and steel are both common materials for the standard faucet.
They work with the standard beer taps, and are very easy to buy. Because they’re so common, it’s often incredibly easy to find replacement parts or upgrades.
Standard beer faucets are sometimes referred to as North American beer faucets, so don’t get confused if you see those for sale.
The European faucet isn’t that much different from the standard. However, there is one immediately noticeable difference: the spout.
Longer and skinnier than what you’re likely to find on the standard, the European faucet reduces the amount of foam you get in each pour.
There are some obvious advantages to this variety of pour. With less foam, it’s great for filling up pitchers. The concentrated flow is also perfect for filling a growler.
However, they are European faucets, which means they’re designed to fit European kegs.
If you have an American style keg, it’s likely that the European faucet won’t fit on easily. Adaptors can be bought, but this will be an additional expense.
If you’ve ever ordered a Guinness at a bar, you should have noticed how long it took to pour.
This isn’t just a bad server - Guinness is meant to stream slowly from the faucet, so it can get that thick and creamy head it’s so well known for. If someone has poured you a Guinness fast, then they haven’t done it right.
Nitrogen-based draft systems can be expensive and risky, so you probably don’t want one in your home.
These taps can help to mimic that nitrogen experience, by using a long and narrow spout combined with a restrictor disc.
This knocks out the carbon dioxide, to produce the slow and pressured pour of a nitro brew. These faucets can also be incorporated with a nitrogen mix system, which blends nitro and carbon dioxide.
Of course, you can also remove this small restrictor disc, and pour beer without the nitro effect.
The Best Standard Beer Taps
Before you go out and buy yourself an expensive tap, you probably want to get a good idea of the kind of style you like. These good options fit with a range of kegs, and work with a whole load of different home brews.
OUR TOP PICK
Sometimes you just need a kit that gets everything done.
This chrome plated option from PERA probably won’t blow you away, but what it will do is get your beer in your glass.
The faucet is easy to use with a comfortable handle that grips well.
It’s an easy fit, and should work with almost any American draft tower. The chrome plated finish is attractive, but be careful to keep it well polished.
The main thing you need from a beer faucet is a reliable way to get beer out of your keg. That’s exactly what the Perlick option provides.
Perlick makes quality beer faucets, and this option is up there with the best. It is slightly more expensive than you may want to pay for a starter faucet, but you are paying for quality.
The pour is incredibly even, with a smooth flow and less agitation, which reduces foam. The Perlick has gone through a redesign lately, to prevent the handle from sticking, and to prevent air from reaching the beer.
It’s the total stainless steel construction of this Intertap faucet that makes it stand out from the crowd. Stainless steel doesn’t rust, and it doesn’t corrode, which makes it safer to use around food and drink.
Having a tap that won’t get sticky doesn’t sound like much, but you’ll quickly appreciate it when you’re trying to scrub old beer off chrome.
This is an adaptable faucet, ready for a load of modifications and adaptations.
The modular threaded spout means that with just a few small purchases, you can use this as a growler filler or a stout dispenser.
The Best Nitrogen Beer Taps
Nitro beer faucets are often a decent investment, because they really are the best way to pour stout. They’re perfectly designed for the thick and rich creaminess of a good Guinness.
If your beverage of choice is stout, then it might be worth purchasing a proper nitro tap. However, if you only enjoy a stout on occasion, then this spout could be the best thing.
Cheaper than a full-on nitrogen tap, it threads onto any Intertap spout to dispense stout absolutely perfectly.
Simply screw it on, and the tiny holes of the aerator disc will give you a creamy finish, with no effort. Made of stainless steel, it also cleans off easily.
A nitrogen tap can be slightly off-putting simply because of the price. They are a slightly more complicated design, and that tends to translate to a higher price.
But this MRbrew option is surprisingly affordable, while still being well-made.
The long spout and restrictor disc work together to power the beer through, which gives you that amazingly thick pour.
Made of food grade stainless steel, the faucet prevents corrosion and is easy to clean. And when you don’t want the nitro effect, the restrictor pops out, for a faster flow.
This easy fitting, easy to use, stainless steel stout faucet is a sturdy design with a smooth pour every time. Using this with your keg should get you a nice and thick head on your stout.
For regular stout drinkers, you can really taste the difference between a good pour and a rushed one.
It’s easy to clean, with an attractive finish and a comfortable handle. The restrictor disc is also easy to remove, for lighter beers.
The Best Premium Beer Taps
When you’ve got yourself a good home brew, the last thing you need is for a tap to let you down. These premium options are some of the best ones out there, for a quality that matches your beer.
When you want to upgrade your home brew experience, one of the first things to look out for is flow control.
This simple valve allows you to control the speed at which the beer comes out of the faucet, allowing for the absolute perfect pour, every single time.
Every home brewer who uses a keg is likely to experience a bad pour. It comes out too fast, spills everywhere, and manages to be ninety percent foam.
There’s no shame in not having the skill of a bartender, but the Perlick flow control just gets you a little closer to mastering the talent.
What Perlick does well is, essentially, everything, Every part of the faucet that your beer touches is made of stainless steel, keeping your drink healthy and safe.
It’s easy to clean as well, and constructed with care, so this should be a faucet to last you a long time.
This Perlick doesn't have any special features, but it manages to be a premium design because of the amount of thought that’s clearly gone into every function.
It’s a faucet that you can enjoy using, the kind of thing your high standard home brew deserves.
Flow control and a long and smooth spout is what gives this FERRODAY faucet such a premium finish.
The longer spout means the beer gets less agitated, for a low foam pour. Combined with the flow control, you can get every glass perfect, every time.
With a premium design, you expect premium materials, and that’s certainly true here.
The stainless steel construction is sturdy and easy-cleaning, imparting no taint on the taste of the beer.
Choosing the Right Beer Tap For You
It’s easy to forget the importance of the tap and faucet when it comes to choosing your kegerator.
However, these are incredibly important components. Before your beer gets into the glass, it has to pass through the faucet. A bad tap can ruin the work of a good brew.
Exactly what beer tap is right for you will depend on what you’re brewing, and what you can afford. Perhaps the most important thing isn’t the tap itself, but the care you take of it.
A beer tap doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to get the beer into the glass. Look for a reliable option, show it some care, and let the beer flow.