Our guess is that you searched this on your phone and have a keg sitting nearby, waiting to be tapped. First, stick that keg in a bucket of ice. The keg actually pulls beer from its bottom, not the top, so if you just keep the lower third of the keg cold, you’ll enjoy frosty beer until it kicks.
As for tapping, you’ve got this! Below, you’ll find how to tap a keg, plus some simple solutions to common problems around pouring, and enjoying, a fresh keg of beer.
HOW TO TAP A KEG [VIDEO]
STEP 1: Lift the handle of the tap to “disengage” it.
STEP 2: Line up the bottom of the tap with the mouth of the keg.
STEP 3: Turn the tap clockwise until you feel resistance. No need to crank on it, just make sure it’s snug.
STEP 4: Push down on the handle to tap the keg. Pump a couple of times (don’t overpump!) and you’re ready to pour.
A MORE DETAILED HOW-TO
The hand pump, or “tap”, will have a handle on it. The handle should be able to be pulled away from the coupler body and lifted up. This will “disengage” it. Place the bottom of the coupler on the spout of the keg (located on top of the keg, sometimes covered by a little plastic cap, which you should remove before placing the coupler on the spout).
Make sure the base of the coupler laces into the grooves inside the keg’s spout. Turn it clockwise. No need to crank on it, just stop when it feels nice and tight. Any more tightening will just compress the rubber pieces inside, making for more wear and tear. TAKE A SECOND: does the coupler look like it’s on right? Is it snugly fitted into the opening and not slanting? If not, unscrew and try again. If it does look right, press down on the handle that we lifted up in the first step. This will “engage the coupler.” Now just grab the coupler’s dispensing hose, grab a cup, and start pouring!
To un-tap your keg once it’s kicked, you’ll first want to lift the handle. To do that, you’ll most likely need to pull the handle outwards before it’ll lift up. Once you lift the handle up, just turn the tap counter-clockwise until it pops right off. Voila, keg untapped!
THE MOST COMMON PROBLEM: FOAMY BEER
Have foamy beer? Stop pumping! More often than not, your guests—or you—get excited and want to dispense your beer like Vin Diesel: fast and furious. So you pump the heck out of the keg. If you pump too much, the beer will be overpressurized and foam up, making for a very painful and frothy pouring process. Another interesting fact: the typical “Party pump” taps that you’re often given when you rent a keg add oxygen to your beer, oxidizing it and changing its flavor (most often for the worse) over time. If you want to keep your keg fresher, longer, look into a CO2 pressurization system and a kegerator.
Second reason for foam? The beer is too warm! Cold beer can hold more CO2 than warm beer. When warmer beer hits a glass, the CO2 can no longer be contained and will leave the beer, causing it to foam up. So how long does it take to chill down a warm keg? It depends on starting temp, ending temp, and method of cooling, but think of it like a thanksgiving turkey: better to start the night before (with cooling rather than thawing) to make sure it’s at the perfect temp for when guests arrive.
Ready for your mind to be blown? Another cause of foamy beer: too little pressure. If nobody has been pumping the keg at all, the CO2 will break out of the beer and separate. You’ll also probably notice that the beer is pouring a little more slowly, so that should help you differentiate between an over-pumped vs, an under-pumped keg.
That’s about it!