Most homebrewers usually start out bottling their batches. And most agree that bottling is a pain in the ass for the most part. Which leads most homebrewers to a point eventually where they ask themselves if it’s time to start kegging. And even if the desire is there to make the jump, that opens up a bunch of other questions. How much is this going to cost me upfront? How much is the ongoing cost moving forward? Do I have space for the needed equipment? Do I have the money? Is it worth the money? I came to that point recently and I asked myself those very questions. And here are the answers basically. I don’t have the funds or the space at this time to get a kegerator or a keezer and the equipment that I would need to set up a keg/tap system. And yes I did look on craigslist for used stuff. So I started looking at alternatives. There were basically two that I found. The first has been around for a few years called Tap-a draft. See pic below.
It comes with three bottles, that together would bottle about a 5 gallon batch, 5 CO2 cartridges and one tap assembly. You essentially treat each bottle like, well, a big bottle. You sugar prime your batch like normal, fill the bottle, let it carb and condition, then you refrigerate it. After its cold, you slap the tap on, insert a co2 cartridge and keep it in your fridge. Draft beer anytime. The bottles are small enough to fit on a standard fridge shelf.
The second option is a relatively new product made by Brewing Tools LLC. It’s called the Beer Box. It’s essentially the same product as Tap-a-Draft in basic design and function. But instead it’s two 2.5 gallon HDPE plastic boxy bottles (compared to the PET plastic of TAD), with a port for a Co2 cartridge and a tap assembly. So the bottles are bit more sturdy and rugged and it comes with an adapter and picnic tap, resulting in a little more versatility. But this runs $200 vs about $80 for Tap-a-Draft.
So I settled on the Tap-A-Draft mainly because it would fit my current needs and it was cheaper. I just want something to sit in my fridge and dispense beer (with the Co2 component) and maybe throw it in a cooler with ice if I want to hit the road. It arrived last week. My approach is that I’m going to use it mainly for my daily drinkers like my rye ale, cream ales, witbiers and hefeweizens, maybe brown ale. Since I won’t be making one of these until March, I won’t be using the TAD until then. I’m going to fill one TAD bottle from the batch and do traditional bottling with the rest of the batch. So I won’t be eliminating bottling, just reducing it. I still like bottles. I like how they look labeled, they can be given as gifts, portable, etc. I just don’t want to fill and cap 50 at a time if I don’t have to. So I’ve taken a baby step toward kegging. I guess I like to take things slow.