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    This is the most common and straightforward draft beer system for delivering draft beer from keg to tap across a short distance. It is the top choice for bars with a beer keg located within a few feet of the beer dispensing faucet. Most commercial keg boxes, refrigerator conversions, and home bars are configured with direct draw systems. This type of direct draw beer system is another less expensive option to glycol chilling, and it also has the added benefit of minimal beer waste due to the short length of the beer lines. The cost of a direct draw beer system will vary depending on the size of the equipment  (kegerator vs. walk-in cooler box), the number of beer lines, and the overall quality of the installation.

    How It Works

    A direct draw beer system may be housed in a walk-in cooler, a kegerator, or a converted refrigerator under the counter. These draft beer systems will have the faucet directly connected to either a cooler box or a tower directly connected to a self-contain cooler. The beer kegs are stored, cooled, and tapped in the same cooler. The beer in the keg, beer line, and beer tower connected to the faucet is chilled by circulated cold air. A thermostat regulates this self-contained refrigeration unit, which keeps the stored kegs between 34-38° F for optimum performance.

    Self-Contained Keg Storage and Dispensing (Kegerator)
    The kegerator uses a forced cold air supply to the draft towers to maintain consistent temperature from the box to the faucets. And the kegerator box is controlled by a thermostat that should maintain a constant temperature of 34-38° F. The kegerator offers several benefits, but the main downside is limited keg storage. For some applications where space is a problem, a kegerator can be combined with a remote refrigeration unit to increase the keg storage space.

    Walk-in Cooler System (Dispensing directly through the wall)
    The walk-in cooler stores both the kegs and beer lines to deliver product(s) to the shanks directly mounted through the cooler wall. A wall mount drip tray is installed on the outside wall of the cooler to contain any spillage that occurs during the pouring process. The beer should pour at the same temperature stored in the walk-in cooler if properly installed.

    How Effective is Direct Draw System:

    This system can be highly effective and profitable if properly designed and maintained due to its straightforward dispensing. The direct draw system offers the benefits of no hidden beer lines to make service and access easier. Due to the short length of the beer lines, there is a lot less waste during the cleaning process.

    Key Tips:

    1. Make sure the walk-in is dedicated to keg beer. You want to minimize the amount of foot traffic to maintain keg temperatures.
    2. Keep wall thickness to a minimum to prevent the shanks from warming up inside the wall.
    3. You can use longer shanks to expose more surface area to the cooler to help conduct more cold to the faucet.
    4. Calculate ROI on the cost of your kegs (1/2 vs. 1/6) and the number of flavor options you’d like to offer your customers. Sometimes less will be more when it comes to your
    5. profit margins.


    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.