Cold Brew Kegerators: Brew Coffee & More
I bet you thought your kegerator could only do one thing – chill your brewski at your tailgate party. Wrong. In 2016, we now have Cold Brew Kegerators. So, Draft Beer or Draft Coffee? Both, thanks. Wine, tea, soda or *shudder* Kombucha and Kimchee? All of the above, you’re welcome.
Let’s start small.
Here’s the revolutionary Fizzics beer dispenser.
Very fresh on the market, the Fizzics is such a nifty way to serve draft beer that I am tempted to buy 6 of them and fill each with a different brewski. It runs on batteries (4 x AA) and you don’t need any nitro or other stuff to run it. Works with most bottles, cans or growlers. It is very new on the market but is universally loved already.
OK. That’s the small stuff.
Before we progress to the cold brew kegerators, here’s the skinny on beer kegerators in 2016. From the outside, they don’t seem to have changed all that much since last year apart from some digital enhancements but in fact they have branched out. There are some big moves afoot. These chill-meisters are hot, hot, hot! Get used to names such as nitro coffee, javarators, tea-arators, winerators, sodarators, and yes, even those heinous kombucharators and kimchee dispensers.
What this diversity means is prices at the top seem to have dropped considerably. Initially, some bright spark invented kegerators designed for making cold-brew coffee (especially nitro) and other beverages as well as beer. Makes sense. Many consumers are resistant to buying single-use appliances and have found ways to broaden the use of kegerators. Coffee and beer are at the top of the list. Are the two compatible? Yup. They are. And,*shudder*, it’s true that some even can be used for kombucha. (Please do not bring that dragon’s bile to my tailgate parties especially if you have a neck beard and wear a hipster beanie.) Wine, cider, root beer and soda are forgivable. Did I mention many of the new kegerators dispense these – as well as tea – and of course, beer of all denominations? There are specialty taps for dark beers too. This new versatility, and the descending price, have made a kegerator the hottest new appliance in a man cave, tailgate party kit or just the kitchen. Wine cooler, move over. Just make sure the lines are 100% clean in between different beverages so you don’t get any cross-flavors and read up about the CO2 pressure you may need to apply to certain drinks. A side issue is that it was way easier to sell the idea to Ms. Tailgator when I mentioned that we could just as easily make cold-brew nitro coffee for her book club from the new kegerator. Read on for an introduction the best of the best dual purpose beer and cold-brew coffee kegerators.
FYI multi-use Kegerators fall naturally into the category of full sized. ATM, there’s no compact alternative-use kegerator, though you can modify some to dispense other drinks. Choose one that is rated OK for homebrew. Some beer kegerators are classed as portable and others should be installed in place and left alone. The combo beer + coffee kegerators are all full size as they need to accommodate a nitrogen tank and at least one 5 gallon ball-lock keg. (Kickstarters and funding sites are still working on finessing compact versions. The highly anticipated Jacked Up cold press coffee maker is cheap, cute and portable though it doesn’t do a proper cascading pour, so there’s a bit of disappointment in its design.
Pour overs don’t fulfill the promise either as you need that whole nitro technology and cascading pour plus the kegerator system to store the coffee to avoid throwing out the brew at the end of the day.
Note also that some kegerators from our old articles are no longer made and the ones below, you will notice, have either dropped in price or stayed the same for years despite everything else becoming unaffordable. It has to do with popularity driving the prices down. Some have also been modified and improved as a result of feedback from buyers. Follow the links and have one sent, pronto, so that you can practice your smooth tailgate party moves before this year’s Super Bowl. Or next year’s.
So, where do you start? I have just put together a representative list. Of course, outside that, there are quite a few choices in the range and eventually I hope to test and cover many of them.
The specifications of the Edgestar coffee and beer dispenser are pretty much the gold-standard for versatile drinks dispensers. So I have spelled that one out in detail. Following that description, there is a list of other recommended kegerators that suit a variety of purposes.
Meet the versatile EdgeStar Cold Brew Kegerator which could well be the star of your tailgate party.
It’s a way to have all the beer you want and follow that up with all the cold brew coffee you need before you leave the tailgate party. This is what the EdgeStar Dual Tap Cold Brew Coffee + Beer Dispenser with Digital Display can do for you, combining your two great loves at that other great iconic get-together, the tailgate party. I recommend this one for the man-cave as it is large, professional-looking and will be the centerpiece of your tailgate gate party (well, apart from the 60” TV with the game on it).
You may not want to haul ass this elegant appliance to your parking lot tailgate party. Yet I do know people who have done exactly that, mounting the kegerator in back of their pickup trucks and running their tailgate party from it as though it’s a food truck. It may be time to rethink the format and layout of the tailgate party and step it up a-piece. But I digress.
This EdgeStar stainless steel dual tap kegerator has been designed for the progressive office: perfect cold brew coffee in the morning, happy hour beers at 5 pm, then more coffee before heading home. IMHO, that’s a fine balance for a tailgate party not just life at the office. I think you get the picture.
This model includes a fully insulated draft tower, the coffee faucet – which, by the way, has a ‘*cascading pour feature’ to ensure a top quality crema on your coffee.
PLUS there is the regular beer faucet, a set of classic tap handles which you can switch out to something to suit your taste, 2 Sankey couplers (but I recommend you buy a couple of extras) a dual gauge nitrogen regulator and a CO2 regulator. Tanks included are 1 x 5lb nitrogen tank (for the coffee) and 1 x 5lb CO2 tank (for the beer).
You can easily check the temperature on this kegerator as it has a digital display. You can set it and forget it using the touch controls.
So what does it hold? The cabinet can easily store 2 x sixth barrel kegs (or one of these plus a 5 gallon ball lock keg), gas tanks and all the other equipment required. If you are running a dual system, you may put your nitro tank outside at the back of the unit. (With some kegerators, you need to run dual lines (two separate beverages), you may need to drill the holes a little larger. Check that this does not void your warranty. But with the EdgeStar, it’s all there for you.)
This freestanding EdgeStar Cold Brew kegerator, including castors for ease of moving from room to room or location to location, comes in black or stainless steel so when you order, be sure to click on the correct finish wrap for your décor. It is also amazingly inexpensive at the moment given that it has been designed for stout style beers (such as Guinness or Negro Modelo or your own home brew). Two refrigerator shelves are included so that it can double as a fridge as required.
The temperature adjusts from 32-50degrees F which is 0-10 degrees C. These are optimum beverage temperatures and the deep chill mode ensures your beer will be frosty cold with the perfect head.
And it is guaranteed for 1 year (parts) and 90 days (labor). The company gives great service and follow-up with any questions or issues.
Note that it is on backorder at the moment. But make contact with the company and they will add you to their waiting list which I hope is being reduced by the day.
If Kombucha is your thing, then this is made for you.
It has all the parts necessary including a digital display and that makes maintaining that temperature for fermentation a snap. Looks like a kegerator. And it is a kegerator. But there you go! Versatility personified. Remember to clean the lines carefully in between uses.
No matter if you plan to serve wine by-the-glass or by-the-carafe, this system saves you money by keeping the bulk purchased wine fresh and true to its terroir, is great for the environment in saving bottles and corks. If you have winos at your tailgate party, this is a great investment.
This is the EdgeStar wine dispenser and an environmentally responsible way to drink wine. It makes for a great money-saving as well as being green. You can keep beer in one side and wine in the other if you add a CO2 tank for the beer side and an additional regulator. Price-wise, it’s a huge bargain at the moment. All dispensing components are wine-certified, and that includes the barrier tubing preventing oxygenation and the 304 stainless steel faucets required to avoid any cross-flavors. You just need to find a provider of wine kegs near you or order them through your wine dealer or http://wineberry.com/wine-on-tap/
They tell me that this can double as a cigar humidor! That makes it even better value for some folks.
Anyway, if you need to convert it back exclusively to beer dispensing, that’s a cinch. Just replace the current tank valve or switch the tank itself to a CO2 tank and you are ready to dispense beer.
Sodarator, Meadarator, Ciderator and more
Even though Kegerators were designed for beer, they are also excellent for Cider, Root Beer, Mead, sodas of all kinds. Having a kids’ party? Then dispense the sodas from your kegerator. This triple tap kegerator is ideal and if you need more space for nitro or additional tanks, you can store them behind the appliance. Beer lines must be cleaned thoroughly before changing beverages. There is a real accent on sterilising the 0-rings and beer lines. (I advise you to have a few spares of each plus a handy beer line cleaning kit ).
By regularly purging air with CO2, you can remove some of the possible yeast contamination that might be present in your keg. Yeast could cause your sodas, mead or soda to ferment. Attach your CO2 gas canister to the keg and pull your safety valve for ten seconds which will replace the air with CO2.
Then, when it’s all clean, Just fit a keg of a non-alcoholic beverage into one of your kegerator’s taps and make a few easy tweaks to increase the CO2 pressure to dispense sodas such as root beer, cola, ginger ale.
You can buy a dual or triple tap version and vary the drinks.
How to Setup a Kegerator to Serve Nitro Coffee
Generally speaking, you will find instructions in the kit. But if you don’t like reading instructions here is a quick outline and a link to an easy video. Some manufacturers or sellers include a link to a video and if you don’t find one of those, check out Youtube inputting your model number.
Assemble the kegerator hardware
Plumb the gas and beverage lines and keep them scrupulously clean in between brews
Mount the supplied draft tower
Install a stout faucet for the cascading pour feature
Connect the gas and liquid lines to the keg
Install the gas to use for nitro coffee
Set the pressure to use when serving nitro coffee
Practice pouring with a stout faucet
Change the taps to ones of your choice if you desire. The chalkboard ones allow you to describe the contents. Use a wet chalk pen so it doesn’t erase.
A short Glossary of Javarator terms
*Cascading pour regulates the way the beverage is dispensed and ensures full body in every drink.
*Crema is that foam you get on well-brewed pure coffee before the cream or milk arrives. In quality coffee, you can get a head as great as a cappuccino, yet there’s nothing added.
*Check out this Youtube video showing hints for setup and use. It’s a detailed video which spells it out. You may need to play it a few times.
Here’s a general instructional about putting together your kegerator:
Warning! Warning! There’s actually a Kimchi kegerator.
Please don’t try to put beer in this one.
Finally, let’s say that as kegerators have moved out of the shadows they have become better engineered and the service from the manufacturing companies is a lot better. This is by no means a complete list but it should be a good starting point for you to flick through the choices available on line. No matter what the weather, even if your team loses, even if the BBQ runs out of gas mid-sear, at least you will get the beverages right. Happy tailgate partying!