What Is a Jockey Box Draft Beer System and How Does It Work?
A jockey box system can sometimes be called a coil box or cold plate box. The name "jockey" stems from the unit's portability 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 pressurize 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. 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 electricity, it can be set up anywhere. CO2 gas is used to pressurize the keg for dispensing.
Keeping the keg cool is important to the jockey box system's function, which 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 is 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 you belong to a club or entertain on a regular basis, they will come in handy, especially if you serve pitchers. The system's economics and portability make it simple to purchase and store. If properly maintained, it can provide many years of service without the need for 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.
Raise a Glass to Draft Beer Sales!
For over 60 years, Micro Matic has been recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of draft beer equipment. Specializing in keg-to-glass technology, we offer a total solution for meeting your draft beer equipment needs. Our dedication to customer service is supported by four regional sales and distribution centers, the Micro Matic Dispense Institute for training and education, and a Certified Installer Network for draft beer installations. Want to speak with a “perfect pour” expert? Contact Micro Matic today.