Have homebrew, want to travel? So you followed our last post and Built your own Keezer. While living the good life of not having to deal with bottles it hit you. How am I going to take my kegged homebrew over to Miller Lite Mike's house for the game? Thankfully we live in an inebriated age where there are a lot of choices, meeting all types of budgets and gadget-minded individuals. Through the years I have either used or personally own many of these apparatuses, and can give a firsthand impression.
Everyone is familiar with these, and many of us have too many. They are cheap, simple, and easily replaceable. The biggest downfall with the typical growler is the beer is really best consumed very quickly (if you consider that a downfall). Once you pour out an amount, the dissolved co2 will slowly start to come out of suspension, and fill the newly created headspace – meaning your beer is becoming flat (and exposed to a little more oxygen). If you have a good original seal, the beer can last for quite a while – until you first open it.
Growltap (growltap.com) is the first gadget we’ll focus on that addresses the flat growler beer issue. They designed their product to fit on standard growlers, which is very convenient! It uses food-grade 12g or 16g co2 cylinders that deploys the co2 by a simple push-button dispenser (the yellow item in the picture). It also features a safety pressure release valve, so you can’t over pressurize your growler.
Costs: $45 – two year warranty
DrinkTanks (www.drinktanks.com) is designed to be an extremely tough, insulated growler first and foremost. It was designed to insulate both hot and cold beverages, so you could use it to transport your coffee in the morning and your beer in the evening. Doubled-walled stainless construction, double-latching lid, etc. it appears to be able to handle whatever you throw at it (and appropriately named). It comes in a standard growler size 64oz and a giant 128oz version, and a wide range of colors.
What also makes the DrinkTank awesome is the accessory cap that is similar to the Growltap in concept. Easily share the beer via the picnic tap, while keeping the beer safe under a light pressure of co2. Unlike the Growltap, this cap will only work with the DrinkTank, as it is latched down vs a screw top design.
Costs - $69 for the 64oz version – Lifetime warranty. The accessory cap will cost you an additional $45.
The Trailkeg(Trailkeg.com) is another option for a growler replacement, and in my opinion, extremely well designed. The picnic tap connects to the lid through a ball-lock connection, as many of you homebrewers will recognize. The lid also fits Hydroflask and Lifeline doubled-walled stainless growlers if you already own one (they also sell their own version). The feature I believe sets this apart from other options is the co2 dispenser. It is actually a regulator with a dial – so you can put just enough co2 to push the beer, or a little more pressure to preserve the pressure for longer storage. The regulator has a quick disconnect, so you only need to connect it when you need to pressurize the growler. This would also allow you to own one regulator to share among multiple units (assuming you have them).
Costs - $126 (I could not find the warranty information on the site). If you already have one of the compatible growlers, you can purchase just the lid and accessories for $76.
The BeerBox (www.brewingtools.com) was initially designed as replacement for bottling. Homebrewers can rack their beer into the two 2.75 gallon boxes, and carbonate naturally using priming sugar. After carbonation, place them in your refrigerator to chill and serve! It also uses the same small co2 cartridges to keep the beer pressurized and flowing. For those that keg, you can transfer your already carbonated beer into one of these, and put the BeerBox in a cooler to keep it cold. While not quite as portable as the other options we reviewed, it does have quite a bit of capacity. It would be a great option for an outdoor party, fishing trip, etc. I would avoid transporting it if you naturally carbonate in the BeerBox, as the yeast will go back into suspension, and affect the appearance and possibly flavor of your beer.
Cost - $200 – 6 month warranty
If you have ever been to a beer festival, you likely have seen these in action. The concept is simple – beer flows through a cooling device (either stainless coils or an aluminum cold plate) that is surrounded by ice. This allows you to serve beer that isn’t able to be kept properly chilled.
Costs – Varies widely. You can purchase a 1-tap version for as little as $99. Multiple tap versions may cost several hundred dollars. Relatively easy to make yourself, and can save quite a bit of money compared to purchasing a completed version.
Keglove (www.keglove.com) was actually the first item I purchased when I first started kegging. I wanted the ability to bring a full keg without a bunch of extra equipment. Keglove is a Neoprene sleeve (think wet-suit) that fits over an ice blanket. They state it can keep your beer cold for 8 hours with virtually no change in 3 hours. I tested this in an extremely hot July afternoon, in the direct sun, and did find that after 3-4 hours I needed to swap to a different ice blanket (I purchased two for this reason). The additional Co2 holster keeps everything secured together. If you are transporting your keg, I would recommend to transfer the beer from one keg to another using a jumper line. This will leave any yeast that has settled out behind.
Costs - $50 for sleeve and one ice blanket. Addition blankets are $23 and the holster is $20. No warranty information found on website.
This is my portable “kegerator” that I built this for parties to share 2.5 gallons of beer (roughly one case’s worth of beer). There are many ways you could do this fancier, but my primary goal was to be on the cheap and simple. It is a basic 5g water cooler that fits a 2.5g keg inside, but you can use any combination of various cooler sizes, shapes, and kegs that fit. It is installed with a tap faucet, and enough room for several feet of hoses and ice inside. For the gas connection, I simply drilled a hole to run the gas line with an MFL connection on the end. The bottom drain on this cooler is convenient if you need to drain water at the end of your party.
In all, I’m sure this only covers a small percentage of the options we have available to us. Did I miss your favorite method for draft on the go? Homebrewers tend to love to share their beer, as it is a reflection of their creativeness, methodical processes, and to the benefit of others!