Keg tap redesign — DDL Wiki
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In this phase of the design process, further investigation of consumer needs was accomplished through market research. First, a survey was distributed to a variety of consumers. The survey responses showed that consumers mainly desire an intuitive tap design, reduced foam output, a simple way to keep the keg cold, a better pumping mechanism, and a faster dispensing method. Interviews with store managers were then conducted to determine the needs of beer distributors. It was found that when purchasing taps, distributors look for ones that are easy to disassemble, composed of standard parts, easy to clean, and highly durable.
After brainstorming, we narrowed our ideas into five main design concepts that satisfy the three most common user needs: foam reduction, keg refrigeration, and line reduction. For foam reduction, concepts include a pressure gauge to limit misuse, a separate beer reservoir to force the foam to the top, and a double barrel pump to facilitate pumping and improve the center cylinder. Other concepts are a beer cooling system using coiled tubes surrounded by ice and a multiple hose connector that limits line length at gatherings.
With some research, we found three main designs similar to our own: the «Tap with Spout» (Reference 1), «Jockey Box» (Reference 2), and a multiple hose design (Reference 3). A Pugh chart was created to compare and contrast our concept ideas against these as well as the standard tap. One key advantage to our design is that the competitors do nothing to reduce foam. Also, although the competing designs effectively satisfy individual user needs, they are very expensive.
By analyzing the market research, user studies, and competitor designs, it seems evident that the optimal keg tap redesign would be a combination of our concepts. The recommended combination includes the double barrel pump, the pressure gauge, and multiple hoses. To manage all the tasks at hand, a Gantt chart was also created to map out the design and prototype schedule.
The two markets researched were consumers and beer distributors. We conducted interviews and collected survey responses to gain insight as to what customers look for in a keg tap and gauge market need.
To determine the needs of beer distributors, we interviewed the store managers. We found that most distributors own about 50 taps and need to restock every few months. They restock mainly because customers do not return the taps after use. We also found that workers routinely disassemble the taps for cleaning. From these interviews, we learned that beer distributors want keg taps that are:
- Easy to disassemble
- Composed of standard parts to facilitate part replacement
- Simple to clean
- Durable enough to withstand customer abuse
For consumers, we distributed a survey to students, young professionals, and adults in order to get responses from a representative sample of all potential keg tap users. The goals of the survey were to identify the target demographic, key complaints, advantages and disadvantages of keg use as opposed to bottles, and other customer needs. From the survey results, we found that consumers mainly desire the following:
- Intuitive tap design
- Reduced foam output
- Simple way to keep keg cold
- Better pumping mechanism
- Faster dispensing method
The survey questions along with common responses are summarized below.
Keg Use Survey
For the following survey, over 100 responses were collected: approximately 85% from college students, 10% from young professionals, and 5% from adults. About three-quarters of those surveyed drink from a keg a few times a month; the remainder reported consuming beer from a keg on a less regular basis (a few times a year, used to in college but no longer do, and never). The questions are based on home keg use as opposed to beer on tap at bars.
1. What issues have you experienced getting beer out of a keg?
Of the approximately 100 people surveyed, 90% had issues with too much foam, 81% experienced long lines to fill up their cup, and 50% found it difficult to pump the tap.
Other issues included:
- Tap dispensing beer too slowly
- Difficulty getting the last bit of beer out of the keg
- Trouble with keg stands
- Tap breaking
2. What are some advantages/disadvantages to buying a keg instead of cans or bottles?
- Much cheaper than cans/bottles
- Reduced waste and smaller environmental impact
- Easier to clean up
- Carbonation level better from keg
- Assuming the keg is new/has been well taken care of, the beverage quality is generally higher (less chance of skunking or tasting like metal)
- Easier to provide for large groups of people
- Can be delivered
- Don’t need to search for a bottle opener.
- Have to return keg
- Keg needs to stay cold until you’re done with it
- Less variety with kegs than bottles and cans
- May be tougher to monitor consumption i.e. not knowing what is in a certain guest’s cup and harder to keep track of the number of beers you’ve had when refilling a cup
- Negative perception of “keggers” versus a more mature party with premium beers
- Finding a place to put the keg
- Accepting that kegs are unattractive
- Tap could break
- If keg isn’t finished the beer will go bad and be a waste
- Kegs are heavy and hard to move
- Issues with foam
- Kegs are banned at some schools
3. What events would you purchase a keg for?
- Any large, casual party
4. Have you ever tapped a keg? What problems did you have, if any?
- The tap would not stay screwed into the keg (may have been broken)
- Difficult to screw the tap on properly
- Not familiar with type of tap (keg tap not intuitive)
- Beer sprayed all over the place because of old or broken seal
- Pressure lost so the keg had to be retapped
- Incompatible tap-keg connections
5. What would you look for when purchasing a keg tap?
- Large, stationary upright tap as opposed to a long tube and tiny nozzle
- Sturdy feel (the piston doesn’t wobble)
- Low cost
- Good pumping and dispensing mechanisms
- Quality materials
- Intuitive/Easy to use
- Multiple nozzles
- Good grip on the dispenser
- Easy to wash
- Long hose with a sturdy nozzle
- Compatible with a broad array of kegs
- Maximum beer flow
6. How could your overall keg experience be improved?
- Way to chill keg
- Pressure gauge to prevent over pumping
- Make a keg like a Gatorade cooler with a spigot at the bottom and no tap
- Handle that doesn’t protrude so far off the keg (pump handle like most large ketchup dispensers)
- Eliminate foam
- Multiple hoses
- Push a button to automatically pump the keg to an optimal pressure
- Stronger flow from tap
- Way to preserve beer left over in keg so it doesn’t go bad
- Keg with wheels for ease of transport
- Add light so that you can see where you’re pouring at night
- More suitable for keg stands
- More intuitive
- Rubber on keg handles to make carrying it easier
- Have only open or closed option for nozzle
- More pressure per pump (foot pump?)
- Keep cost down (no CO2 canisters)
The market research demonstrates that there are many potential areas for improvement in keg tap design. Beer distributors desire a durable tap that is easy to disassemble and clean. Consumers focus more on use issues such as foamy beer, keeping the keg cold, difficulty pumping, and standing in long lines to fill a cup. Some user complaints can be attributed to misuse of the tap. Misuse could be easily prevented by providing directions, but based on the nature of the product, directions would probably never be read. Alternatively, the keg tap could be constructed in a more intuitive way, have arrows printed on it demonstrating the proper tapping method, or include a pressure gauge to indicate how many pumps are needed to dispense non-foamy beer.
Due to the large percentage of responses complaining about the foam, much of our brainstorming focused on fixing that problem. We also had multiple ideas for improving access to the beer and cooling it more efficiently. The keg tap redesign concepts reflect what we have determined to be the leading market needs.
Based on our survey results, the key areas of improvement are foam reduction, keg refrigeration, and line reduction. While the 5 main concepts below fulfill these specific areas, other improvements will also be made. Ease of use, environmental impact, cost, and aesthetics will all be taken into account, and general improvements in these areas will be automatic. A more comprehensive list of ideas can be found in the appendix.
Figure 1. Pressure Gauge
Issue 1: Foam Reduction
A simple pressure gauge is something that could limit the chance of misuse by telling the user when the keg is at the ideal pressure. If we also added a release valve, this would take it a step further by entirely preventing the user from over-pumping. Ideally the gauge would be attached to the tap at the point where air is coming back out of the keg. An illustration of this is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2. Seperate Reservoir
A separate beer reservoir is another concept idea that would reduce foam. By having the beer enter a separate container at a high point and exit at a low point, the foam would ideally rise to the top, while the beer would exit out the hose. Whether the separate reservoir is internal or external is yet to be determined. An illustration of this general concept can be seen in Figure 2.
Figure 3. Double Barrel Pump
The Double Barrel Pump is a concept that could potentially both reduce foam and facilitate pumping. With more air going into the keg, less pumps would be necessary. Also, this design would change the center cylinder, which is a key source of turbulence. In the Double Barrel Pump design, the beer would flow in a straight path, while the air flow would have a curved path. This is the opposite from standard center cylinders, where the beer is forced around many sharp turns and tight corners. An illustration of the double barrel pump is shown in Figure 3.
Figure 4. Cooling System
Issue 2: Keg refrigeration
Since finding containers to hold a keg can often be difficult, and the ice can be messy, this solution would minimize these issues. A container would be placed on top of the keg with the beer tube coiled around a centered cylinder. The container would then be filled with ice in order to cool the beer flowing out of the tube. It would probably take quite a length of tubing, but this could be determined by applying heat transfer calculations. Also, the shape of the container might change depending on whether it is manually pumped (there would need to be a hole to access the plunger), or if it would have a built-in C02 canister to regulate the pressure. A general illustration of this concept is shown in Figure 4.
Figure 5. Multiple Hoses
Issue 3: Distribution Improvement
Multiple hoses is a relatively simple solution to minimizing the waiting period for a beer. This is an idea that would definitely have to be paired with another concept, as it doesn’t help to limit foam. While the illustration shows hoses coming out of the same opening in the tap, this might not be the case. Also, the tubing could potentially be elimated in favor of a series of spouts. A concept sketch is shown in Figure 5.
After doing multiple searches and interviewing the owner of a large beer distributor some competing products were identified in the table. These products were all found on a website that was given to us by the beer distributor. The «Tap with Spout», «Jockey Box», and «Multiple Hoses» pictures were all taken from references 1, 2, and 3 respectively. In addition to the competing products we found, we also listed our five best designs and compared them all to the tap we disassembled in the following Pugh chart.
Figure 6. Pugh Chart
As you can easily see our designs were thought of in attempt to fix certain complaints from our user surveys. The first three designs are our attempts to reduce foam, the fourth is to cool the beer, and the last attempts to serve the beer more quickly. Our designs to reduce foam seem to be promising as competitors seem to be lacking there. We also feel as though some of our designs may be easier to use than current taps. Out performing our competition in these two categories is at the top of our list of things to accomplish. That being said we have thought of multiple ways to combine some of these ideas in order to increase the positive aspects from our redesign.
Figure 7. Gantt Chart
By looking at the results from user testing, the survey, and Pugh chart, we have found that a combination of our concepts is necessary. When looking at competitor products, we noticed that there aren’t any attempts at foam reduction for personal keg use. And while we found competitors to have several efficient ways to cool beer, they were all very costly. Thus, we recommend combining two of the foam reduction concepts with one of the other areas of improvement. Specifically, we recommend combining the pressure gauge, to limit misuse, the double barrel pump, to facilitate pumping and improve the center cylinder, and a multiple hose attachment to fill more than one cup at a time. In an ideal situation, the beer would have the right amount of foam, it would be dispensed quickly, and it would be more easily tapped. Take a college party as an example. The hosts, busy with other preparations, cannot deal with the keg, so they pass off the tap to an inexperienced drinker. Our tap is very intuitive, so the inexperienced drinker has no problem tapping the keg. The party starts, and no line forms at the bar because there are multiple hoses to fill cups. The double barrel pump dispenses the beer with very little foam, pleasing both the guests, since they have a full cup of liquid, and the hosts, since they waste less beer. We believe that this scenario illustrates how user needs can be met by combining our concepts.
While the majority of the sections were done by the group as a whole, each person helped in the following areas:
Dan Boljonis: Gantt chart, market research
Keith Haselhoff: Competitor research, Pugh chart
Abby Morrell: Design concept sketches and descriptions, findings & recommendations, executive summary
Julia Weirman: Market research, created survey and compiled results, editing
- Pressure meter
- Pressure release valve
- Flat surface to put cup on
- Multiple cup holders
- Adjustable cup holder
- Multiple hoses
- Instead of hoses have a reservoir with spouts
- Flatten the keg on one side
- Carbon Dioxide canister
- Keg stand helper
- Wheels on keg
- Flatter, more rectangular handle
- Strap for carrying keg
- Motorized keg
- Tubing to cool beer
- Cooling Koozie
- Insulated keg
- Instructions for tapping
- Larger diameter hose
- Empty-full gauge
- Cup dispenser
- Pong ball dispenser
- Quarter dispenser
- Fold-out table
- Keg grill
- Pump into separate reserve
- Cooled reserve
- Hose-less nozzle
- Flow straightener
- Separate center cylinder
- Way to suck out foam faster
- Button to tap keg instead of pump
- Recirculate foam back into keg
- External primer
- Internal chamber to recirculate foam
- Different locking mechanism
- Self-assembled tap (compact packaging)
- Put some substance into keg to reduce foam (like Guinness bottles)
- Put some substannce into tap to reduce foam
- Keg can play music when pumped
- Charges ipod with pumping
- Nozzle only open or close
- Koozie to insulate keg
- Beer counter
- Pump counter
- Measuring device to dispense only certain amount of beer
- Plastic keg tap
- Novelty keg taps with different characters (ie. Peter Griffin, Ninja Turtles, Statue of Liberty)
- Keg tap with audio
- Voice-activated pressure gauge
- Magic 8 ball keg tap
- Glow in the dark keg tap
- Flashlight attached to nozzle
- Attach different beverage to nozzle to make mixed drinks
- Different nozzle heads (Spray, jet)
- Foot pump tap
- Electric motor
- Multiple kinds of beer in 1 keg
- Disco-light tap
- Fog machine
- Foam machine
- Gargoyling assist
- Turn a wheel instead of pumping
- Clear tube to see foam
- Plexiglass keg
- Strip of plexiglass to show beer level
- Plexiglass top only
- Recognition system (Only one person can tap keg)
- Theft reduction system
- Vending machine keg (Quarter per beer)
- Tells alcohol percentage
- Removable hose, different attachments
- Water fountain tap
- Beer flows out over fountain
- Disposable nozzle cover
- No lever arm on tap (twists into place)
- Make everything stainless steel
- Diamond keg tap
- Bigger center cylinder
- Hose attachment at angle or straight up
- Offset pump so beer comes out straight
- Double barrel pump (balances out moment)
- Use outlet tube to pump (no turns)
- Pump like ketchup dispenser
- Universal attachment (works for all kegs)
- Ice container with coils for cooling beer (sits on keg, attaches to tap)
- Dishwaster safe
- Garden hose nozzle adapter for easy cleaning (flush with water)
- Retractable hose (like in sink)
- Hose comes coiled, tap has holder
- Instead of flowing through coils, beer flows over cold surface into cup
- Handle turns red when keg nears empty
- Rack for holding keg
- Container that has drain for water when ice melts
- Holder to place cup at proper angle
- Thermo-electric cooling keg
- Comfort grips for keg stands
- Camouflage keg
- American pride keg
How to Tap a Keg
Labor Day weekend is coming up and you or someone you know is throwing a party. So while everyone else is figuring out how to buy the perfect ratio of hot dogs to buns, one-up them and bring the keg. Besides, nothing screams «Back to School» like a keg party. But merely showing up with a keg won’t warrant undying love from your friends, you’ll actually have to get the beer into their cups.
If you’ve never tapped a keg before, follow these tips. You’ll be everyone’s hero.
What You Need:
• The keg of beer
• A tap system (make sure you have the right one, different kegs may require different taps, so double check here)
Step 1: Ice Your Brew
One of the most common causes of excessive foam is warm beer. The exact ideal temperature varies from beer to beer, but your standard American macrobrew will be tastiest around 35˚F. This means you’ll want the beer chilling at least two hours ahead of time, and ideally four to five hours. Whoever designed the typical keg bucket made it only about half as tall as a standard keg. So in order to ensure that the entire surface area of the keg is cooled (not just the bottom half) place a plastic garbage bag in the bucket, and then put down a thin layer of ice before dropping in the keg itself. Continue to pack ice inside the garbage bag until you cover the top of the keg. Check periodically and add ice as needed.
Tip: Cool down the tap too. The amount of carbonation the beer holds goes down as temperature increases, so letting cold beer hit a warm tube will guarantee an avalanche of foam. Fortunately, the solution is pretty easy: Just leave the tap on ice with the keg an hour or so before you decide to tap.
Step 2: Tap That Sucker
Most taps have a handle that pushes down to lock the tap onto the keg, while others have dual-flanges that you twist about a quarter-turn. In either case, make sure that the handle or flanges are not in the engaged position. If they are, beer will spray out as soon as you put the tap on the keg.
Seat the party pump on top of the keg, making sure not to push down on the spring-loaded ball valve (another way to spray beer in your face). Lock the pump onto the keg by rotating it clockwise, then engage the tap by pulling the handle out then pushing it down, or by twisting the flanges. If you see bubbles or foam forming around the tap, something’s not seated correctly, so disengage the pump, take it off, and try again.
Step 3: Master Your Pour
No matter how carefully you’ve followed these steps, the first glass of beer out of a keg will always be foamy. Pour foam into a spare glass until beer starts flowing. Foam begets foam, so you’ll waste more than you’ll drink if you try to pour beer into a foamy glass. Also, you don’t have to pump before the first pour, since the keg is already under a great deal of pressure.
A pour from a keg that’s too fast or slow will create foam. You can regulate the speed by how much you pump. It should take 10 to 15 seconds to pour a pint with an inch of foam.
For the first few pints (when the keg is still under pressure), you may want to slow down the flow of the beer. You can do this by elevating the tap and glass above your head. Then, if you want the flow to speed up, start pumping more. Some taps also have a small pressure release valve, which you can open by pulling the metal ring attached to it.
Since there’s no rule of thumb for the proper number of pumps per pint, it’s easiest to do this with a friend rather than alone. One person should hold the glass at a 45-degree angle and point the spigot toward the side of the glass. While the pint is filling up, gradually turn the glass vertical to avoid spilling. The other person should give the keg a few pumps anytime the glass starts to get too foamy. Just don’t overdo it, too many pumps will—you guessed it—create foam as well.
This How-To was originally written by WIRED contributor Brook Wilkinson. It was originally published on a wiki, so it contains edits and additions from WIRED readers.
Beer tap — Wikipedia
A beer tap is a valve, specifically a tap, for controlling the release of beer. While in other contexts, depending on location, a «tap» may be a «faucet», «valve» or «spigot», the use of «tap» for beer is almost universal. This may be because the word was originally coined for the wooden valve in traditional barrels. Beer served from a tap is largely known as draught beer, though beer served from a cask is more commonly called cask ale, while beer from a keg may specifically be called keg beer. Beer taps can be also used to serve similar drinks like cider or long drinks.
There are many different types and styles of beer or keg taps.
Pressure-dispense bar tap
Beer supplied in kegs is served with the aid of external pressure from a cylinder of carbon dioxide (or occasionally nitrogen) which forces the beer out of the keg and up a narrow tube to the bar. At the end of this tube is a valve built into a fixture (usually somewhat decorative) on the bar. This is the beer tap and opening it with a small lever causes beer, pushed by the gas from the cylinder, to flow into the glass. One disadvantage of this system is that it produces a frothy head which must be left to subside before more beer can be added to the glass. Some manufacturers have tried to address this problem by producing a device which allows the beer to be poured from the bottom up.
Portable keg tap
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Keg Tap and Keg Coupler Questions
Due to an overwhelming submission of kegerator related questions and issues sent into The Expert Corner, we will try and respond to more than just one question at a time. Also, if you have extensive knowledge on the subject of draft beer, beer systems or draft beer dispensing and want to become one of our experts, please email us.
Dear Kegerator Guy,
Can all kegs of beer use the same keg tap? — Cary from Dallas
What is the difference between a picnic pump and a keg coupler? — Tom from Santa Fe
What is a good way to troubleshoot your kegerator if no beer will come out? — Brent
No. Depending on what kind of keg you have, you will need a keg tap that is designed to work specifically on that keg. Standard American kegs have different taps than European kegs, and Cornelius kegs (often used to keg home brew) also use two different systems, the ball-lock and the pin-lock. It is a good idea to start a collection of keg taps for your kegerator that will keep the beer flowing, no matter where it is from.
A picnic pump is an air pump style keg tap that is designed to pump regular air into the keg to pressurize the beer for serving purposes. The keg coupler is a keg tap that is mounted onto the keg and powered via a compressed gas line. The main difference is that the picnic pump is designed to serve beer at a function where the keg will be entirely consumed. The beer becomes contaminated with unfiltered, regular air, and will start to go bad after 8 hours usually, although it may last up to 72 hours without spoiling if you are lucky. The keg coupler allows you to serve a draft beer from your kegerator without contamination. A single keg of beer may last up to 6 months if served in this manner.
You need to isolate the problem. Start at the beginning of the pressure system. Make sure your CO2 tank has gas and is turned on. If you can’t tell if its full or not, check like so: first, turn the gas off. Next, remove the gas line from the keg coupler. Now, slowly turn the pressure back on and feel if it is coming our of the gas line. If not, turn your pressure set screw clockwise. If you screw this set screw all the way in and no gas comes out, you are probably out of gas; take your tank to be re-filled. If gas does come out, re-secure your CO2 line to your keg coupler and take the keg coupler off of the keg. Manually trigger the ball lock to make sure that the gas is coming out of your coupler. If not, you may need to clean or replace the coupler. Next, check whether the beer is coming from the keg. If not, the keg may be faulty. Next, remove the beer line from the faucet shank. If the beer flows, then it is probably your faucet which needs to be replaced.
See related: Finding the Right Keg Tap, Keg Dispensing Facts, Using a Carbonation Table Pressure Chart
Christian Lavender is the CKO (Chief Kegerator Officer) for Kegerators.com in Austin, TX. Kegerators.com has been an online destination for draft beer related information since 1998.
The Kegerator Guy answers a question about a kegerator or draft beer issue from a Kegerators.com reader each week.
Send your question to The Kegerator Guy.
How to Tap a Keg
Your party guests are arriving and you have a full keg iced down in the corner, but how in the hell are you going to get anything out of it!?! There are a lot of people standing around telling you weird things like leave the cap on and you have twist that thingy open to get rid of the head. Whatever you do, don’t listen. Best case scenario, you get frustrated. Worst case, you break the tap or … beer shampoo.
Here are 7 easy steps for how to tap a keg:
1. After picking up the keg, place it where you want to have it for serving and let it set a while. Remember, you’ve just taken a very large beer can and wrestled it out of the store, into your car, out of your car and into your garage, kitchen, backyard or basement. Chances are rolling of the keg was involved.
2. Remove the plastic or cardboard cap from the fixture on top of the keg.
3. Get your tap, making sure it is not “engaged”(this will give you a “beer shampoo”). Line the notches up with the hole at the top of the keg. You’ll notice a few open slits at the top of the keg and a ball bearing in the middle. The slits guide the tap’s notches and hold the tap in place. The ball bearing serves as a stopper, forced up from the pressure inside the keg. You’re about to “screw” the tap into place.
4. Push down. You need to push the ball bearing down to allow beer flow. You don’t need to he-man this, but a little pressure is needed.
5. Slide the tap into place in a clockwise motion, while maintaining the downward pressure. Don’t let up, you need to keep pushing down as you spin the tap into place. Once it’s turned into place, it should lock there from the pressure in the keg.
6. Pour about six cups of beer or a pitcher. Don’t be alarmed, there will be foam. When the foam falls, the pitcher should be about half full. You should be pouring without any foam at this point.
7. Enjoy your party! Why wasn’t I invited?
Adventures in Homebrewing