Your guide to commercial beer coolers
For commercial establishments serving multiple varieties of beer on tap, having a walk in beer cooler is essential. This piece of equipment keeps multiple kegs of beer in the optimal 36-38°F temperature zone, ensuring that all of the draft beer served in the establishment will remain fresh, perfectly, chilled, and perfectly carbonated for serving.
Commercial walk in coolers operate under similar principles to kegerators—which is to say, they are specially designed for the purpose of keeping keg beer cold. The main difference here is scale, in terms of the number of kegs that the cooler can hold. A kegerator can hold anywhere from 1 to 8 kegs, which is great for home bars or for establishments that have only a few varieties of draft beer to offer. Most restaurants and bars, though, will want something larger. Some bars can have as many as 40 or more different beers on tap, and need a walk in cooler sized to match!
Inside the walk in cooler, the kegs should be arranged strategically to prevent tangling of the beer lines, and to prevent accidentally disrupting the beer system equipment when changing out a keg. There needs to be ample space for the kegs being tapped, and the individual beer lines, plus space to maneuver new kegs into place. You should also have space inside the cooler to store backups of your most popular kegs so that you can quickly and easily change them when needed. Specially designed rolling shelving units can improve your use of space and ensure easy access to your kegs, as can individual keg stackers. Both can be used either for organizing tapped kegs or keeping them safely stored until it’s time for them to be used.
In addition to your walk in beer cooler, you’ll also need a system for keeping your beer cold as it travels down the beer lines from the keg to the actual tap. Depending on how far your cooler is from your dispense point, you’ll want either an air- cooled draft system or a glycol- cooled draft system to keep your beer cold between points A and B. A general rule of thumb is that air-cooled draft systems work well when your keg in the cooler and your dispense point is only a couple of feet apart.Glycol-cooled systems are needed for when the keg cooler is in a remote area from the point of dispense. Individual restaurant and bar setups can be quite different, though, so be sure to ask an installation expert if you’re unsure of the best options for your space.
Though there are many standard sizes available for walk in beer coolers, commercial establishments with specific needs including unusual layouts or large numbers of kegs on tap may want to consider getting a beer cooler custom designed for their specific needs.
Do you have specific questions about walk in beer coolers and beer refrigeration systems? Let us know in the comments!