What are Jockey Box Draft Beer Systems and How do they Work?
A jockey box system can sometimes be called a coil box or cold plate box. The name "jockey" stems from the portability of the unit as it is easy to move from one location to another (jockey around).
A jockey box system contains all the equipment necessary to dispense beer; cooler box, beer line – stainless steel coils or cold plates, shank, faucet, CO2 regulator, CO2 tank and beer line connectors, and some come equipped with a drain tray and cup holder. CO2 gas is used to pressurized the keg for dispensing.
The key to the jockey box dispensing cold beer is the coil or cold plate unit that acts like a flash chiller meaning that the stainless steel beer line coil or aluminum cold plate (stainless steel line is encapsulated) is refrigerated using an ice water bath in the case of the coil system or ice only with the cold plate.
The jockey box system works on the principles that the keg is sitting at room temperature, 70° F and when the beer passes through the coil or cold plate located in the cooler box the beer temperature will drop to the ideal dispensing temperature of 38° F. It is the perfect system for large parties or special events such as a family reunion or company picnic. As it does not require electric it can be set up anywhere. CO2 gas is used to pressurized the keg for dispensing.
Keeping the keg cool is important to the function of the jockey box system and that is why it is recommended that keg jackets be used to ensure cold beer. Kegs when used with a jockey box system should never be stored in direct sunlight and in the heat of the summer it is wise to place the keg in an ice water bath in a tub. This way, the beer in the keg stays cold and the performance of the jockey box remains optimum.
The coil should be fully submerged in the ice water bath and as the ice melts the water should be drained and more ice added. Be sure to keep the drain closed on the cooler box and only open when draining water to add ice.
Cold Plate Systems
Only ice should be used with cold plates, no water, and as the ice melts it should continually drain, remember to leave the cooler box drain open and run a drain line to a bucket to collect the water
Jockey boxes are not for everyone but if your part of a club or entertain on a fairly regular basis they will serve a very useful purpose, especially if your serving pitchers. The economics and portability of the system make it easy to afford and store. Providing it is maintained properly, it can provide many years of service without having to invest in the more expensive refrigerated systems.
Just like all draft beer systems, jockey box systems require regular cleaning. All beer contact points – faucet body and faucet parts, coils or cold plates, beer line connectors and drain tray should be cleaned after each use.
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