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Sipping a cold draft beer is one of life’s finest pleasures. So, why not invest in a kegerator that lets you drink brewery-fresh beer from the comfort of your kitchen, living room, basement, garage, or backyard? For those who are unfamiliar with the appliance, it's basically a refrigerator used to store and serve keg beer, a serious upgrade to the party pump you used in college.
Unlike the foamy pours you get from a hand pump, a kegerator uses carbon dioxide gas to dispense always-bubbly beer. When properly maintained with regularly cleaned tap lines (we like this kit), a kegerator can keep your favorite craft beer fresh for several months, meaning tasty pints are always within arm’s reach. It’s time to tap our favorite picks for the best kegerators around.
Best Overall: Micro Matic Kegerator Pro-Line E-Series 1 Keg
If you miss sitting on barstools, sipping impeccably poured pints of pilsners and hazy IPAs, you'll appreciate Micro Matic’s top-of-class kegerator. It offers refined engineering and key features that other kegerators lack, says Neil Witte, owner of Craft Quality Solutions, a Kansas City consulting firm focused on beer service. One notable addition is a built-in glass rinser—a must for any beer lover, Witte says. Rinsing removes debris and cools your pint glass, setting the stage for a smoother pour with less foam.
This dispenser, which can fit up to a half-barrel keg (that’s about 120 16-ounce pints), also contains an interior blower that circulates cold air, and the sturdy stainless steel top comes with guard rails to prevent you from errantly spilling glasses. You’ll need to order extra tapping equipment, so consider this an investment for a kegerator that’ll last for years to come.
Best Budget: Kegco Deluxe Single Tap Door Mount Kegerator Conversion Kit with 5-Pound CO2 Tank BF EBDCK-5T
If you’ve got an old, full-size kitchen fridge hanging around the garage or can find a used one for cheap online, you’re halfway to owning your very own kegerator. With a little sweat equity, you can convert that refrigerator into your own beer-dispensing device.
“Most of us have a lot more free time this year than typical, and a simple DIY project that helps you drink taproom-style draft beer is a great motivator,” says Jeff Mello, “chief yeast wrangler” at Bootleg Biology, a brewing-yeast supplier in Nashville. “Your parents will owe you big time for getting rid of that dusty fridge that’s been sitting in their basement for 20 years."
Head to your favorite local homebrew shop to buy parts or order an all-in-one set. We like this Kegco kit that includes a faucet, tubes, drip tray, CO2 tank, wrench, and instruction manual for assembly. You’ll need a power drill equipped with a hole saw attachment, too.
Best for Travel: Coldbreak Jockey Box 1T30MPT
Now that outdoors is the new indoors, we’re drinking more beer in parks, beaches, and other open-air locales. If you’re looking to have a socially distant celebration with a select few friends, class it up with a jockey box. It’s a modified insulated cooler that’s converted into a portable beer-dispensing device.
The marine-grade cooler Coldbreak Jockey Box, which is built to withstand soggy, inclement weather, is a great entry-level option for away-from-home imbibing. It comes equipped with a stainless steel faucet and tap handle, as well as a 50-foot stainless coil that cools the beer as you pour it. Prior to pouring, you’ll need to cover the coil with ice, and you’ll need to buy a separate dispensing kit and gas tank to round out the mobile beer-serving experience.
Best Small: EdgeStar Craft Brew Kegerator KC1000SS
If you’re short on handyman skills and space, consider this slim plug-and-play EdgeStar model, which many people swear by for the ease of use and replaceability of parts, says Tom Acitelli, author of "Pilsner: How the Beer of Kings Changed the World."
“The big thing this year is quick assembly; no one needs another headache,” he says. You’ll need just ten minutes to set up this sleek, free-standing kegerator that measures a scant 17.5 inches wide and 33 inches tall. That said, it still has enough square footage to store a sixtel—a cylindrical keg that contains around 40 16-ounce pours of beer.
Easily adjust the temperature with a digital thermometer, dropping the air-cooled fridge to nearly freezing, although we recommend 38 degrees Fahrenheit for pouring beer. You can also lock the fridge door to ensure the interior remains secure and at the ideal temperature.
Best Countertop: HomeCraft Black Stainless Steel Tap Beer Growler Cooling System CBD5BS
Most kegerators are primed to pour kegs that contain a bit more than 5 gallons of beer, or around 55 12-ounce cans or bottles. If you need a little less liquid, look to HomeCraft’s countertop kegerator. It holds 5 liters of beer, a much more manageable volume, especially if you like to regularly switch up your beer selection.
Operating the compact countertop kegerator is easy. You can buy pre-filled 5-liter kegs or fill the included reusable growler with the freshest IPA, sour ale, or pilsner from your local brewery. Add 3 cups of water to the dispenser’s cooling chamber, screw in the included CO2 cartridge, and your beers will stay chilled, fresh, and properly bubbly for 30 days.
Best Outdoor: EdgeStar 15-Inch Built-In Outdoor Kegerator KC1500SSOD
Every season is a beer-drinking season with this sturdy EdgeStar kegerator that’s electrically rated and safety-approved for outdoor usage. Park it in your patio or backyard and enjoy fresh draft beer, whether it’s a cold, dreary December day or steamy, sunny July afternoon. The forced-air refrigeration always keeps beer at the appropriate temperature. Adjust it as needed via the electronic panel that’s located inside the refrigerator.
While the beer dispenser is suited for dispensing a sixtel, homebrewers can also hook up a Cornelius keg of their latest batch of beer. Originally created for soft drinks, the Cornelius keg is a stainless steel cylindrical keg with a 5-gallon capacity.
Best Two-Tap: Kegco Double Faucet Digital Black Kegerator K309B-2
Life should be full of choices, especially when it comes to beer. Kegco’s dual-tap dispenser is spacious enough to simultaneously tap several sixtels of beer, the fan-forced cooling system keeping liquids at the perfect temperature. You’ll appreciate the thoughtful touches, including the top guard rails that keep glasses from sliding off as you fill them up, plus the extra shelving system.
When you’re not looking to buy another keg, you can convert this into a beer fridge filled with cans and bottles. Additionally, homebrewers should take note: The kegerator’s precise temperature-control system will go as high as 75 degrees Fahrenheit, letting you use the refrigerator as a fermentation chamber for homebrew batches.
The top-of-the-line Micro Matic Kegerator Pro-Line E-Series 1 Keg is our No. 1 pick because it goes above and beyond with refined engineering and key features, including a built-in glass rinser. For beer drinkers on a budget, let the ale flow from an old fridge using the Deluxe Single Tap Door Mount Kegerator Conversion Kit.
What to Look for in a Kegerator
Kegarators vary greatly in their capacity. The largest are half-barrel kegs with 15.5 gallons or 124 (16-ounce) pints, and the smallest are Cornelius kegs with 5 gallons or 4 (16-ounce) pints, and sixtels with 5.16 gallons or 41 (16-ounce) pints. Although a kegerator can keep beer fresh for several months, pick the size that fits your foreseeable beer consumption. If you don’t want to be limited to just one brew, a smaller kegerator lets you switch your beer selection, and a large one with capacity for several sixtels gives you a choice of different beers, just like in a tap room.
Some kegerators include everything you need so they are easy to set up, and you don’t have to shop for peripherals. For others, the gas tank, dispensing kit, and tapping equipment must be purchased separately.
Converting an old fridge is the most involved of all options; it requires handyman skills. Also, take into consideration that even though it might be the cheapest option, old refrigerators are not as energy efficient as newer models, so you it might not be the most economical option in the long run.
Indoor or Outdoor Use
If you plan to use the kegerator in your backyard or anywhere else outdoors, it should be portable and weather resistant. For limited space indoors, look for a compact kegerator that fits on a countertop. Regardless of whether you use it indoors or outdoors, a built-in temperature control ensures that the beer is stored at the right temperature.
A glass rinser, shelving, or the option to convert the kegerator into a beer fridge can add versatility to a kegerator. And if you are a home brewer, the temperature control system of some models even lets you use the kegerator as a fermentation chamber.
Is it worth having a kegerator?
It depends on how much beer you drink, whether it is available in kegs, and how often and how long you would be using the kegerator. Do a cost-benefit analysis: Compare the cost of buying your favorite craft beer in six-packs or 12-packs with the cost of a keg, and see how much that would save you in a month. Based on the price of a kegerator, you can then calculate how long it would take for the kegerator to pay off.
How long does beer last in a kegerator?
Most beers are pasteurized and stay fresh between three to six months.
Can a kegerator be used as a fridge?
You can use the kegerator temporarily to store drinks in cans or bottles. Using it for food like a regular refrigerator is not recommended because spills can affect the operation of the kegerator, and you don’t want a refrigerator smell in your kegerator either.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Joshua M. Bernstein, the author of this piece, knows beer. He's penned five books on the subject, as well as articles for The New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, Men’s Journal, and Imbibe. He interviewed three beer experts for this article.