How to Tap a Keg of Beer Like a Pro

The beer is cold, your friends are ready, but you’ve never tapped a keg before. Where do you begin without letting on it’s your first time? Listening to a friend shout advice over your shoulder in the moment rarely turns out well. Chances are most of them don’t know either. How do you tap a keg without the nightmare below? Knowing how to tap a keg is an essential skill.

No one wants to start a party like this! Your friends don’t want to wear beer, they want to drink it. They aren’t looking for a good swim, but rather the perfect pour.

Following are some important steps and a little advice we’ve gathered for you from across the web.

Transporting the Keg

The perfect pour starts with the transportation and care of the keg. If you have never transported a keg of beer there are a few things you need to know.

Perhaps this is your first college kegger or you’re an expert party attender but only now handed the all-important responsibility of all things related to the keg.

While it might be tempting to throw the keg in the back of the truck, or toss it like you’re in the movies, your toes and your pour may pay for it.

  • Transporting a Beer Keg? Avoid these Mistakes. They may seem like no-brainers to some, but there is something about the presence of a keg that lends to theatrics, fun, and stunts. Save those for the keg stands. Right now, the focus is to get the keg to the party in the best condition possible.
  • Battle for Highest Beer Toss Record. Since you’re not Gregor “The Mountain” or the world’s strongest man, we’d advise against keg tossing in general. Besides endangering your toes, the furniture, and anyone nearby, you’ll shake up the pressurized liquid creating extra froth and a possible kegtastrophe.
  • How to Move a Keg of Beer. Treat it like you would your kid. If you wouldn’t throw Johnny in the back of the pickup to bounce around down the interstate, don’t throw the beer back there either. Seatbelts are always advised, for the kid too. If there is only one seatbelt, we recommend using it for the kid and placing the keg on someone’s lap. The point is rolling freely isn’t recommended, for humans or beer.
  • Kegging Beer at Home. Of course, there’s always the option to homebrew without the need for transportation. Just move the party to your house! No need to worry about shaking up the keg.

Handling with care is recommended. Just because it weighs a ton doesn’t mean it’s indestructible. The cargo inside is precious, especially to those eagerly waiting on you to deliver.

Finding the Right Temperature

Finding the right temperature depends on whether you are planning on drinking or wearing this beverage (see above video) but typically beer is served cold. You can accomplish this by keeping the keg iced down or simplify with an Insulated Super Cooler.

Different beers have different ideal serving temps and guests have varying preferences. By serving cold it allows the guest to readjust the temperature to their liking by letting it rest or warming it in their hands.

  • How temperature changes beer taste, aroma, enjoyment Different beers are best at different temperatures. For maximum enjoyment, be sure to know the ideal temperature of the beer you are serving.
  • Craft Beer Joe shares a cheat sheet of temperatures. He suggests you experiment with craft beer to find the temperature you love the best.
  • And Munchies In Search of the Perfect Beer Temperature has discovered it’s all more complicated than one might think.
  • How to Chill a Keg of Beer is a step by step pictorial guide if you don’t have a cooling system. You will need to check back often to make sure your ice hasn’t melted. If you don’t have a tub big enough, like the one mentioned in the link, place a large black trash bag in the bottom of the tub. Create a layer of ice and put the keg on top, fill the rest of the bag with ice making sure the sides and top of the keg are covered, then close the bag. Remember it’s easier to keep a keg cold then it is to cool it off.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous and capable in the DIY department you can always go all out and build your own kegerator like this man did for his wedding. He Turned a Cheap Freezer into a Kegerator. Props to him for finding a way to keep his beer cold on their big day!

Remember to invest in an Insulated Super Cooler, Kegerator, or stock up on ice. Warm beer is rarely appreciated. When in doubt serve the keg at 35o. This will allow your guests to warm the beer to their individual preferences by letting it rest or warming it in their hands.

The Right Equipment for Tapping a Keg

Having the correct equipment ensures that your beer will stay fresh and carbonated to the very bottom of the keg. But don’t take our word for it. These Beer Aficionados know the importance of good equipment.

  • Beer Taps and Couplers come in different varieties. There are 7 different types of taps: D, S, A, G, U and M. It’s important to know which one is needed for the keg at hand. U.S. domestically distributed kegs use the A system. Before removing the cap and inserting your tap, be sure it’s the right one or you may end up in a shower of foam.
  • Made Man: Gentleman Welcome shares that how to tap a keg starts with the right equipment. It is the difference between a perfect party or a ruined event.
  • CO2 Vs. Nitrogen in Beer. Old Yale Brewing Co. lays out the differences and gives you the information necessary to decide if a CO2 or Nitrogen system is best for your next tap. When purchasing CO2 make sure it is food-safe quality.

Know what materials your tap is made from. Stainless steel is easy to clean and won’t contaminate future kegs by harboring cleaning solutions. It is also strong and hard to damage. If you’re looking for a beer tap to take on the go make sure it is stainless steel. There is a reason kegs are made of stainless steel and not plastic. You can read all about the how and why in How Beer Kegs Work by By paying attention to the quality of your equipment you and your friends will be one step closer to accomplishing the perfect pour.

Now that you have the correct tap, make sure it is cold. Ice your tap. If warm tubing hits cold beer it will lose carbonation. Cool your tap system by putting it on ice for one hour. If you’re using the tub and trash bag method mentioned above, just slide your tap into the bag an hour before tapping.

Now it’s time to Tap the Keg

Consumer Beverages created this short Video Tutorial on the basics of tapping a keg. Now that you have the ideal temperature and the right equipment it’s time to put your knowledge to work.

Don’t be over eager. You just wrestled an extremely large beer can from the car to the serving table, hopefully sparing your toes but no guarantee that it didn’t shake up considerably. Let the keg rest. Use this time to ice the tap.

Remove the cap from the top of the keg.

Grab your iced down tap and ensure it is not “engaged.” The lever should be in the up, unlocked position.

Line up notches on the tap with the hole on top of the keg, applying only a slight pressure. Rotate the tap clockwise, threading the tap into the keg. Pull out and down on the lever to lock it into place.

Now it’s time to pour!

While we can’t all be as smooth as this guy…

…we can be smoother than this one…

…these guys…

…or even her. Then again, the blast consumption method looks a little fun.

Pouring the Perfect Glass from a Keg

While life would be perfect if we could all own the perfect pint pulling robot, the truth is life just isn’t fair. So instead, here are some tips on how to pour the perfect glass sans AI.

To avoid a glass of all foam do not pump before the first glass. There is enough CO2 in the keg itself for the initial pours. Save the pumping for later. Better yet, don’t use a pump system. The second you pump you add oxygen to the beer and it begins to go flat. A CO2 draft system works without pumping, letting you take your time finishing off that keg. You can extend the life of your keg from a few hours to a few weeks by using the proper system.

Beer foam, while in excess isn’t wanted, is not to be feared. It has its purposes. A good head on a pint of beer is appreciated, it enhances the beer’s appearance and smell. The following articles will help you pour a better glass and make you the go to expert when it comes time to pour.

  • Scientists Just Discovered a New Purpose for Beer Foam. Find out how it keeps more beer in your cup and enhances the overall experience. Perhaps all those beer sloshing songs are a little overexaggerated. It looks like beer’s purpose is to stay in your cup until it hits your lips.
  • How you pour the beer is important. Tin Roof Brewery shares the art of The Perfect Beer Pour. It’s simpler then you might think.
  • Wired gives detailed instructions on the mechanics of tapping a keg as well as the pour. While it’s a lot of what you’ve read above, they give more details into the art of the pour. Start at 3:05 on the video to discover How to Master a Perfect Pour. There’s a few steps we don’t recommend, like pre-pumping before pouring. While you typically get a foamy first pour there is more than enough pressure in the keg without adding the extra. It’s why that first cup is nothing but foam at 1:52.
  • How to Pour the Perfect Beer According to Science because, well if there’s a scientific reason behind it you will at least sound smart at the party. Who knows you might win the next round of beer trivia!
  • World of Beer believes they have refined the skill of pouring the perfect beer. We have to agree with them that it is an essential final step of putting that cold beer in a friend’s hand.
  • WATCH: Donegal Man Demonstrate How to Pour the Perfect Pint. It always helps to see perfection in action. This Irish Pub owner in Toronto shows us how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. He has a fancy spin on the cup that’s sure to impress.

Learning how to tap a keg properly has several steps that lead to the perfect pour. Careful transportation, the right equipment, an iced down keg and tap, inserting and locking the mechanism in place properly, all lead to the perfect pour and the satisfying first sip.

Now That You Know How to Tap a Keg

Honestly, we’d have to agree with Tap-Talk. There’s no bigger lie out there then, “sure I know how to tap a keg.” Next time you hear that, grab your phone, hand them the tap, and start recording. You might lose a good 40 beers but you’ll have a great viral video on your hands.

Now that you’ve seen the how to, how nots, and are slightly terrified of impending disaster, let me show you an easier way:

After all, if the secret to long life truly is beer, how to tap a keg properly is a necessary life skill.