So, you decided to take the plunge and buy a kegerator. First off, I'm so proud of you. Second, let’s find out what you need and where to get it!
There are two major options to consider when making the decision to put a kegerator in your home. Do you buy a complete, ready-to-pour unit? Or do you channel your inner MacGyver and build your own? This is something that you really have to answer for yourself, because only you know the kind of person you are. I would love to say that I’m a DIYer and would build my own, but the reality is that I would probably get halfway through the project and bail.
If you find that you are more on the DIY side than the buy side, I would encourage you to start digging around online for Kegerator plans and parts. I’m going to keep the focus of this article on buying and caring for a kegerator, so if you plan to DIY, this is where I leave you.
OK, just us lazy folks left - let’s go shopping!
I would recommend you not buy anything smaller than a 5.6 cu ft. kegerator, as that will give you the most flexibility when choosing your keg. The 5.6 cu ft. fridge can fit one 1/2 Barrel (15.5 Gallon) keg, two slim 1/4 Barrel (7.5 gal) kegs, or two 1/6 Barrel (5.1) gallon kegs. This way, you can buy a 1/2 Barrel for cost maximization or a 1/6 Barrel of something that is maybe limited or from a smaller batch brewery. Also, the ability to fit more than one keg in the fridge means that if you want to upgrade to a two-tap draft tower, you could do so without having to completely replace your fridge.
When looking for a kegerator, I suggest first scoping out your local buy/swap/sell page on Facebook, Craigslist or Uncle Henry’s. The fact is, kegerators aren't a necessity, and oftentimes people find that their living situation/drinking habits have changed and they are no longer in need of their kegerator (this will never happen to you though, right?). Very good, gently used kegerators can be found at a very reasonable price if you are dedicated to looking, but be wary of misleading ads and always be sure to view the unit in the flesh first before purchasing. Also, double check with the seller to make sure the kegerator comes with everything needed to be operational (coupler, tubing, faucet, tower, CO2 tank and regulator).
If you want to buy new, definitely shop around before buying. Good places to look are kegerators.com (great selection and free shipping), Home Depot (less selection, but good prices/sales) Sam’s Club (not always available, but the price is hard to beat) or other local/online appliance retailers. Most people that sell refrigerators also sell kegerators, but might have to special order for you.
You still have more decisions to make, like whether or not to get a two- or three-tap kegerator? Do you want to put it under a counter or have it be freestanding? Do you only want to buy kegs or do you want to pour homebrewed beer (different couplers for most homebrew kegs)?
Next week, we can get into the nitty gritty of using your new kegerator and keeping it clean. Until then, happy drinking!