Draft Beer

Get Your Party Started: How To Tap A Keg

How to tap a keg without getting a beer shower? Read on and find out.

how to tap a keg

Whether it’s a backyard bash, football tailgate or block party every gathering gets better when you bring a keg of delicious, frosty-cold beer to the festivities, but you can quickly commit a party foul if you don’t know how to properly set up a keg. Get your party started the right way with these simple instructions on how to tap a keg of beer.

Step-By-Step Instructions On How To Tap A Keg


Step 1: Attach the beer keg pump 

Before attaching your keg pump (also known as a keg tap, party pump or picnic pump) to the keg it is VERY IMPORTANT to make sure that the lever handle is in the off position with the handle upright and unlocked. Double check to make sure the faucet head is closed as well. If you try to attach the pump with the lever handle in the locked position you could become fodder for a YouTube video of you taking a beer bath. 

Align the coupler lugs with the openings at the top of the keg and press the coupler down until it fits inside the neck of the keg. Turn the pump, usually about 90 degrees, until it locks into place. Once it is locked, pull out the handle and then push it down to engage the pump. If you see bubbles or foam leaking from the top of the keg, then your pump is not attached securely. Disengage the coupler by pulling the handle out then up, disconnect it from the keg and then try again.

keg tap near kegkeg tap attaching to kegbad keg connection

Step 2: Time to pour

Now that your keg pump is attached and engaged you can start pouring. Do not start pumping the keg right away. There is enough carbonation in the beer that will allow the keg to pour right away. You will probably get just foam from your first four or five cups that you pour (about a pitcher’s worth). This is normal for any keg of beer. Foam is beer! Set that pitcher aside and let it settle. 

don't pump keg right awaybeer flowing from keg tap

Step 3: When to pump the keg

When the beer flow starts to slow down, it is time to start pumping. Open the faucet and pump the handle 4-5 times while pouring until the flow returns to a normal rate. You should only pump the keg while the faucet is open. Pumping the keg before pouring could create too much pressure and cause the beer to pour foamy and too fast.

pumping keg tap

How To Remove A Keg Tap 

Once your keg has been kicked, and the party is officially over, just disengage the tap handle by pulling out and up on it. Then unlock the coupler from the top of the keg.

detaching a keg taphow to tap a keg

Where Do I Get A Keg Tap?

Most beer distributors that sell kegs to the public have pumps available for rent. If you plan on using one regularly, you may want to consider purchasing your own keg pump

Make sure the pump has the right coupler. Most domestic beers use a D-System Sankey coupler. Import beers require a European Style coupler. Not sure what coupler you need? Use our handy-dandy Keg Coupler list to help you choose the right coupler for your keg.

How Long Should I Chill My Keg Before Tapping?

It is important to get your keg cold before serving. Chill your keg for 4-5 hours before tapping to avoid warm and foamy beer. Get a bucket large enough in diameter to hold your keg, and fill the bottom with a layer of ice before placing the keg inside of it. Continue to fill the bucket to surround the sides of the keg with ice and cover the top. 

If your bucket is not as tall as your keg, you can place the keg in a garbage bag and put ice in the bag to help keep the top portion of the keg cold. Icing just part of the keg will cause uneven temperatures in your keg and produce foam. You will also want to ice your pump for about an hour beforehand to improve your pour. 

You can also pick up a keg insulator or keg super cooler to help keep your keg cold. Keg insulators are like a big koozie for your keg. They are made from neoprene and hold a reusable ice blanket to keep the keg cold. The keg super cooler is an insulated plastic container that fully covers your keg, and keeps ice from melting as quickly as it would in an open bucket.

filling an ice bucket to chill a keghow to chill a keg

How Long Does A Tapped Keg Last?

Keg taps and pumps are great for parties and events because of their portability and ease of use. Since a picnic pump uses oxygen instead of CO2 a tapped keg only lasts about 12-24 hours depending on the style of beer and how much oxygen was pumped into it. If you don’t plan on drinking the entire keg within 24 hours, consider using a CO2-based dispensing system to keep the beer fresher longer.

How To Clean A Keg Pump

It is recommended that you clean your keg pump after every use. At a minimum, you should rinse the line with water to flush out any beer residue to avoid bacteria growth. For a proper cleaning pick up a beer line cleaning kit with sankey flusher to flush and sanitize the pump. 



KegWorks has been selling cool tools for drinking and serving knowledge on tap since 1998. We are all about enjoying good drinks with good friends.

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