BeerNexus.com presents
ALE-CHEMY
      by Jay Eichberger

"ALECHEMY"
the ancient
practice focused
on changing base
ingridents into
liquid  gold also
know as
BEER
e
                                 Drink With Style - Use a Kegerator

My extensive research shows that 90% or more of people who drink beer prefer draft beer to
bottled or dare I say canned beer. While there are few exceptions, such as vintage bottle
conditioned ale, it is safe to say that draft is king. Lets face it; draft beer really is the greatest thing
since sliced bread. For ages man has dreamed of enjoying draft beer in the comfort of his own
home. Today modern technology has made this possible. Behold, the kegerator! Often I ask myself
why more people don’t own one of these marvelous devices. Usually the answer sounds something
like, “Well that would be Great…but I can’t afford one”. I must disagree with you. As the proud
owner of a kegerator I know firsthand how much money owning your own unit can save. This
article was written for those who have always dreamed of owning a kegerator but feel that it would
be too expensive to own or too much of a hassle to maintain. As with any purchase the first
consideration is price. So lets take a look at the numbers shall we?

Price:
How much do you pay for a pint of your favorite beer at the bar? Well that depends on what you
drink. Lets say you pay four or five dollars for a pint for a craft beer. I feel comfortable anticipating
that the average beer drinker will drink three to four pints at a minimum during each visit to the local
watering hole. At this point you’ve paid between $16 and $20, but wait, you didn’t tip your
bartender yet you cheap S.O.B.!

If you’re a craft beer drinker you’ll probably tip somewhere between 50 cents and a dollar for each
pint. Lets assume during the course of a month you’ll visit the bar six times. Now I know what your
thinking, “…but Jay I visit the bar far more than six times a month and drink at least ten pints of
beer each time I go so this calculation doesn’t fit my demographic”. Well in an effort to calculate
how much your average beer drinker spends on beer by going to the bar I have to make a few
assumptions.

So where was I? Oh yes, six bar visits a month multiplied by roughly $22 per visit equals $132 per
month. In one year you would spend $1,584 at the bar. Again, I know what you’re thinking,
WOW that’s a lot of money I need to stop drinking! Well good luck with that. In one year our
“average” beer drinker will spend over $1500 at the bar. I purchased my kegerator unit, which I’m
proud to say was built in America, for $1200. The unit I purchased is a commercial quality
refrigeration unit, it should last a good 20 plus years.

While I spent a pretty penny for my unit, it has paid for itself many times over. In one year of visiting
the bar you have already spent more than you would on a commercial grade kegerator. But wait the
savings don’t stop at the bar! So after you’ve had your three or four pints you have to drive home.
Watch out of the boys in blue, they don’t take kindly to anyone who drinks more than two Coors
lights and gets behind the wheel. (Another reason to read BeerNexus'
Rails to the Ales) The
average cost of a DWI is roughly $10,000 between court fees and loss of employment; what a bum
deal.

This calculation doesn’t even include the gas you spend to get to and from the bar (I just can’t
justify adding gas into the equation, this expense is far too variable), but I digress. Even if you
purchase an expensive craft beer you will not be paying more than $2 per pint, anytime you want, in
the comfort of your own home, not having to leave a single tip and best of all you’ll have a very
pleasant commute back home. On average I pay between $1.05 to $1.18 per pint. Currently I’m
paying about $1.81 a pint, but I splurged this time. In one year you can easily afford to buy a
kegerator if you do not go to the bar. So when you get a little extra cash around the holidays or
better yet around tax refund time, you know what to do with it. With that being said, you will pay an
extra $10 or less each month to provide a constant supply of electricity to your unit.

If this cost is still to great for you then consider this, for roughly $120 you can purchase a keg
conversion kit. I recommend this route for bachelors or people with a very understanding wife or
girlfriend as you will either need to drill a hole in the front door of your refrigerator or more likely
purchase a small used refrigerator. The keg conversion kit will include the shank (this couples the
beer line with the faucet aka tap), the faucet, the keg coupler, beer line, CO2 line, gas regulator,
drip tray and faucet wrench (used to install, clean and remove your faucet.

Add an extra $50 for a modest size CO2 tank. So far you total is $170. Realistically you may want
to add a nice tap handle and you may need to pay for shipping. Still, you should be able to
purchase everything you need for less than $250. At this point you will either need to use your
refrigerator or purchase one used. Ask your friends or look on e-bay or craig’s list, you should be
able to find one for less than $200 if you search. The grand total is roughly $450 dollars, not bad.

If you’re on the fence about which route is better, the commercial grade unit or the more traditional
kegerator well I highly recommend the commercial grade unit. First of all the unit is already
assembled. Second of all you have a warranty on your equipment. Third of all it will look very clean
and in the long run your significant other will find it to be much more appealing to the eye. A word
to the wise, do not buy a cheap kegerator unit (such as a Sanyo) as you may be disappointed with
the overall quality and amount of room you have inside the unit, a little extra cash will go a long way
for you.

Now that I’ve convinced you that you can afford a kegerator, lets consider some other factors
when choosing your model.

Size:
When it comes to size, well bigger isn’t always better. If you own a house and entertain often, then
you may want to consider the larger two or three half-barrel capacity units. If your renting like me, I
would suggest the single half-barrel capacity units. The dimensions of my kegerator are 38 ½” Tall,
29 ½” Deep and 23 3/8” wide. Being a commercial grade unit it is a little larger than some units, but
honestly I’ve never found it to get in my way, even in my one bedroom apartment.

Brands:
I recommend two brands. I purchased a True TDD-1 unit. I’ve seen true units behind many bars
and have never heard any problems related to the brand. I truly love mine and it has provided me
with hassle free service for the roughly four plus years that I’ve owned it. The other brand I
recommend is Perlick. They make some very nice units one of which is completely covered in
stainless steel (very attractive if you have the money to spend). Both brands are well designed and
well constructed.

In conclusion, the question I would like to ask each of you is not, “Should I purchase a kegerator?”
but rather, “When should I purchase a kegerator?” The benefits of owning a kegerator are too
numerous to include in this article, however you should expect to gain many a new friend.

While the initial investment can be somewhat burdensome, in the long run you will save yourself
tremendous amounts of money and do it with
style.



     Stay tuned for more Ale-chemy by Jay Eichberger next month!
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