You know what?
A kegerator (which is essentially just a refrigerator for kegs) may be an easy way to keep your home brew cool when you want to serve up a few beers at home, but you can forget about using one outdoors for tailgating parties and the like.
With nowhere to plug your kegerator in, you’re going to have to come up with some other kind of way to keep those beers perfectly cool and refreshing.
And if you think it cannot be done, I’m here to let you know that in fact, yes it can. And better yet, I’m going to explain exactly how.
In this article, I’m going to cover both traditional methods for keeping a keg cold without the aid of a kegerator, followed by a few innovative solutions I discovered as I scoured the net.
And of course, the article wouldn’t be complete without a few extra tips on keeping that keg as cool as possible.
Then I’m going to top that off with a section where I provide you with some of my top tips on how to safely transport a keg together with a CO2 bottle.
Please feel free to scroll ahead to any section that jumps out at you.
Traditional Methods For Keeping a Keg Cold Without a Kegerator
So, the most obvious way to keep a keg of beer cool is by putting it inside an even larger container packed with loads of ice.
And one of the cheapest and most convenient of such containers is with the aid of a simple garbage can.
Of course, if you’re going to use this method, it would be best to use a garbage can that is brand new and hasn’t been used for keeping garbage in.
That way, you don’t have to stress about its cleanliness too much.
You basically just place the keg in the garbage can, pack plenty of ice all around it, including above and below, and then top up the garbage can with plenty of cold water (the colder, the better).
Then, you can either connect beer lines and a pressure regulator, or you can simply fit a special faucet directly to the keg.
You can get yourself a suitable garbage can from a DIY or hardware store, or online. And when not in use for cooling a keg, you can use them to store away other things.
Obviously, how big a container you need will depend on just how big your keg happens to be. For a standard half-barrel keg, you will need a bucket of 19 gallons capacity.
On this link to Wikipedia, you will find a handy chart of European and US keg sizes.
Keg Sleeves Or Keg Jackets
Alternatively, you could invest in a dedicated keg sleeve. It’s basically an insulated jacket that’s specially designed to insulate kegs and keep your home brew cool.
They’re usually composed of neoprene, and sometimes they have pockets that you can fill up with ice cubes for an extra boost of cool.
The great thing about keg sleeves is that not only will they keep the keg cool while on the move, and this will also prevent your vehicle’s interior from getting any knocks or scratches when getting the keg onboard.
Keeping Your Home Brew Cool On The Way To The Glass
A jockey box works in a very different way. Strictly speaking, it does not keep a whole keg cool.
But whereas garbage cans and keg jackets will keep a whole keg cool, a jockey box is instead designed to keep your beer cool on the route from the keg to the glass.
It’s basically a cooler with beer faucets fitted to it that’s filled with ice water. Within the cooler, the brew makes its way through cool coiled copper pipes.
Longer copper pipes are best because they will cool the beer down more efficiently. And this is particularly handy when you’re serving one person after another.
But if it’s a particularly hot day, I would recommend combining your jockey box with a keg sleeve or something similar to give the set-up an extra boost.
If you want to buy a purpose built jockey box, they’re readily available online. But beware, they can really vary in price.
You can get some for as little as $120, while at the other end of the spectrum they can cost over a thousand dollars. My favorite one can be found on this link.
If you fancy a fun project however, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that show you how to make one of your very own.
Innovative Solutions For Keeping a Keg Cold Without a Kegerator
So, when I set out to write this article, I did a little research.
And I found some noteworthy DIY solutions that some clever individuals came up with themselves, and I’d like to share my findings with you.
DIY Jockey Box
Ok, so I mentioned this earlier, but you can make your very own jockey box from scratch. But I would recommend imitating one that’s already been proved to work well.
The YouTube video I recommend you following comes from BEER-N-BBQ by Larry, which you can access on this link. It features two faucets, you can serve two drinkers at a time.
Make Your Own DIY Kegerator
In this YouTube video, Wild Touring explains how you can make your very own kegerator that you can take tailgating and camping. The video is really inspiring.
They make it out of a 12 volt refrigerator, but if you prefer, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same sort of thing with a cooler.
This option however is hands down my favorite one of all.
This DIY portable keg dispensing system comes from Toms Car Hold, and the video tutorial for making it can be accessed on this link.
This is by far the cheapest DIY portable bar that I’ve seen in terms of the materials you need, and it keeps the whole keg cool, unlike the jockey box system that only cools the beer on the way to the faucet.
Tips For Keeping Your Keg Cool
So, regardless of which one of these great options you end up going for, you have to be careful to keep that keg of beer as cool as possible from the second it leaves your premises, right up to when the final glass of beer is served at your event.
Keep It In The Shade
It may sound obvious, but it’s too easy to forget.
You should keep the keg in the shade as much as possible, and avoid leaving it in a warm vehicle for any longer than is absolutely necessary.
Because, too much warmth can upset the taste of the beer.
Keep It Cool The Night Before
The night before the party, try to keep the keg overnight in either a kegerator if you have one, or a refrigerator.
If you use a refrigerator, you’ll probably have to pull out all the removable shelving and such to get the keg to fit inside.
However, please do not succumb to the temptation to store the keg in a chest freezer, because a freezer would be way too cold for your brew.
(That said, it is possible to convert an old chest freezer into somewhere to store a keg of beer at the right temperature. But you will need a temperature controller such as the one I found on this link.)
Add Salt To The Ice Water
The simple act of adding salt to the ice water surrounding your keg can really help to drop its temperature.
This is because the freezing point of water drops by several degrees when salt is added to water, which leads to more melted ice that will serve to cool the water down more.
It’s kinda technical but if you want to learn more on this, why not check out this link?
How To Transport A Keg And CO2 Bottle Safely
First point, kegs are quite big and bulky to carry around, but it really does help if you use the on-board handles, and get a mate to help you. Or you can use a trolley.
A regular standard size keg weighs about 170 lbs, so the last thing you want is to have it roll around your car.
You will have to secure it in place by tying it down somehow, and ideally keep it upright.
It’s also important to keep the CO2 cylinder secure too. I would recommend using bungee cords for both. Ensure that the main valve is closed tight, and remove the pressure regulator.
It only takes one gauge to get knocked or damaged for high pressure gas to come rushing out. You should also disconnect the tap and the lines from the keg prior to loading it on.
If as you travel you start to get out of breath, or you get a headache, pull over somewhere safe, ventilate your car and check the CO2 cylinder.
If you plan on transporting alcohol in the US, you need to be aware of any legal restrictions or regulations that you need to adhere to, and you can find a summary of these on this link.
So, as you can see, there are several ways to keep your home brew cool without the aid of a kegerator.
Which means that you can take your keg of homebrew on the go, whether your thing is tailgating, camping, or a special occasion.
You can either buy a solution online from sites like Amazon, or you can try your hand at making your own solution from scratch with the help of some of the YouTube videos I’ve mentioned.
The tips I have given you should also come in handy for keeping your keg of homebrew cool on the go.
And don’t forget to take heed of the advice I gave you on transporting your keg perfectly safely.
And now, you’re all set to enjoy your cool home brew in the great outdoors – enjoy!