Tapping a Keg Using a Keg Coupler - How it Works

Tapping a keg is the act of using a keg coupler to open the keg's valve. The keg coupler is the device that starts it all. This is the first step of the beer’s journey to your glass.

The coupler has several functions:

1. It opens the valve of the keg to start the process of delivering beer to your glass.

2. It provides an opening for pressurized gas to enter the keg for the purpose of pushing the beer out of the keg.

3. It provides an opening for the beer to exit the keg and enter the draft system.

4. It provides an attachment point for the beer hose hex nut.

5. It provides an attachment point for the gas hose hex nut.

6. It contains a check valve (back-flow preventer) to stop beer from flowing back into the keg once it has entered the draft system thereby preventing contamination of the keg. This also prevents beer spillage from out of the hose when the coupler is removed.

7. It contains a check valve (back-flow preventer) to stop beer from flowing into the gas hose, regulator and gas cylinder in the event of a pressure drop. This prevents contamination of the gas leg of your draft system.

8. It includes the appropriate locking device allowing it to stay attached for the keg valve while in operation.

There are several styles of keg coupler to match various keg valves from the different brewers. Learn to make sense of the different keg couplers. Despite the variety, keg couplers are easy to operate and require very little maintenance.

We recently watched a bartender spray a bar full of customers with beer when she didn't lock the body of the coupler into place properly. So take your time when "tapping" a keg.

Most use a simple two step operation when tapping a keg:

1. Lock the body of the coupler onto the keg valve using the appropriate attachment points and twisting the coupler into place. The German style couplers (type M and type A) will slide onto the top of the keg valve. The type S, D, and U couplers all use a method of twisting the locking mechanism in place. The twin probe couplers actually use a screw on collar.

2. Engage the keg valve by pushing down on and locking the coupler’s lever into the “on” position. The lever has a spring loaded lock pin that automatically slips into a notch on the coupler's body to lock the coupler into the "on" position.

The keg can also be turned off simply by pulling out on the lever handle to release the lock pin and then pulling up on the coupler’s lever thereby disengaging or closing the keg valve.

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