If you are into variety when it comes to your draft beer offerings, you might be dealing with various keg couplers. You will find that changing kegs can have complications. There are different valves on kegs of various beer brands that require different keg couplers to serve from those kegs.
Let’s help you make sense of all the options.
One of the advances in draft beer that will help you serve great draft beer is the standardization of kegs valves across nearly all brands of beer from North America. For many years, these kegs came with different valves and various methods of connecting dispensing equipment to them.
This standardization has helped make it easy to change out kegs quickly in bars and it makes it easy and virtually mess free at home.
Now, almost all kegs from North American breweries come with the same valve and therefore all dispense equipment is compatible. For import beers the situation is more varied. In fact, there are at least four major type of keg valves on import beers, each with its own coupling mechanisms.
Fortunately, the craft brewing industry has adopted the North American Standard (often called North American Sankey) so that these beers are available without having to change the keg coupling apparatus.
Here is a look at keg valves:
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Complete searchable listing of beer brands and keg couplers
These keg couplers are readily available and range in price from $20 to $60 depending on the type.
There are two more types not mentioned above: Twin Probe (often seen on birch beer kegs and a couple of craft beers) and an additional German "M" style used on Aventinus Eisbock; Einbecker, Schneider Edel Weisse; Schneider Weisse; Veltins; Zywiec. There are also a couple of options for home brewed beer in kegs.
It is easy to swap out couplers on the beer line end of the coupler. However, on the gas-in end complications arise because of the different arrangements of the check valve and washer assembly. The “D” and the “S” system are compatible and the gas hose can simply be removed from one coupler via the hex nut and along with the check valve, can be screwed right down on the new coupler. This doesn’t work with the other coupler types and it is wise to remove the gas line by loosening the clamp and pulling the hose off or cutting it off and installing it on the hose barb of the new coupler.
For more information on how couplers work and how to fix common problems read here.