Ice cold beer is the cornerstone of every good party, cookout, or social gathering. This is especially true when a beer keg is concerned.
While many people drink warm beer, an overwhelming majority of people who drink draft beer out of a beer keg, or make their own beer, know that it tastes better cold.
Let’s go through some of the best ways to keep your beer cold without a kegerator, and see how to keep it cooler for longer and how many ice cubes you might need to keep beer cold on a hot day of outdoor events.
Top 10 Ways to Keep Beer Cold in Your Beer Keg
The best way to keep a keg cold is with a kegerator, a dedicated refrigerator that has an integrated tap and dispensing kit for pouring cold beer out.
Unfortunately, they’re pricey, hard to transport, not very easy to do a keg stand from.
Let’s go through some more ingenious ways to keep a keg cold. They often have handles for easy transport, are made of lightweight material, and keep beer cold by keeping it from direct sunlight.
1) Keg Tub
One of the most common and reliable ways to keep a keg chilled is placing it in a dedicated keg tub.
A keg tub is a large container that can hold a keg snuggly and keep it surrounded by ice.
You plunge your beer keg into an ice bath, keeping it surrounded by ice cubes. This lets you transport your beer easily (thanks to its rope handles) while keeping it at the freezing point.
It’s important to note that you need to add ice to the bottom of the tub before adding your keg, then pack it tightly with more ice and ice water.
This will keep your beer keg cold while you bring it out to eager partygoers.
2) Jockey Boxes
A jockey box is another dedicated piece of beer cooling equipment. Despite looking like a keg cooler, it’s not designed to keep the beer keg cold. Rather, it uses the chilled coils inside to cool the beer directly.
These beer lines hook up to the cold beer keg on one end and a tap.
These coils are then surrounded by as much ice as possible. The metal grows extremely cold, which cools the beer as it travels to the tap.
Jockey boxes are useful because they’re ergonomically similar to a normal cooler, making them easy to use and transport.
A jockey box can also cater to multiple kegs at once, giving you cold drinks without needing to drown your keg in ice.
3) Keg Insulated Jacket or Sheet
A keg blanket or keg sheet is meant to insulate your keg and keep it cold for as long as possible. They can be wrapped around your keg and closed via zippers, velcro or even cinching.
A keg sheet or jacket is meant to be form-fitting for the keg, allowing you to secure and transport your keg the same way.
Some of the best jackets have pouches that allow you to pour ice inside.
These jackets protect the exterior of your keg from bumps, scratches and dents while allowing the inside to stay cool even if you have to drive for hours before reaching your party.
4) Keg Hole in the Ground
Bury your keg.
This seems like a random idea that came out of left-field, but it’s a great way to cool your keg without needing a separate jockey box or a kegerator.
This customized hole may be a disaster for your lawn maintenance, but you can choose to make a foxhole that you can cover with garbage bags or tarp, fill with ice, and lay your keg in.
It’s an improvised tub for your keg, allowing it to stay cold without buying a separate freezer or storage container. Your gardener may not appreciate it, though.
5) Proper Basement Storage
The basement is the coolest part of the house, being underground and away from sunlight.
Though not as good as refrigeration or adding ice, it will allow your keg to stay cold and last longer.
If you do not have a dedicated area for your kegs, having just one to test it out or lack a cooler or ice to keep it cold, you can place it in the basement to get the coolest condition possible.
If you’re creative, you can even set up a way to dispense beer, making your basement a bar of sorts.
Who knows? It could be the next hangout spot for you and your buddies.
6) Wet T-Shirt and Fan Method
You’ll need to be a bit more scientific with this method, but when beer is the difference between a good party and a bad one, you’ll need to get smart quickly.
This method involves a large fabric like a blanket, towel, or t-shirt that you will dunk into cold water.
Your wet fabric should wrap around the entire keg. You will then point a fan at it and let it blow.
This cold fabric and wind combination will cause the liquid to evaporate and cool the keg and the liquid inside. It’s a quick and easy way of cooling a keg down without ice.
This method is ideal for pool parties, beach drinking and other places where it’s hard to bring a large supply of ice.
7) Kiddie Pool
A kiddie pool isn’t just for kids. If your children have already outgrown their pools or have agreed to let you borrow them, they also make a great improvised keg and beer cooler.
You have to fill your pool with ice and water as soon as possible, wiggle your keg in, throw in a few more bottles and cans you want to keep cool, and have an improvised kegerator ready.
It’s a fun way to use your pools outside of summer vacations and allows you to hold multiple kegs and beers with minimal effort.
8) Cold Water, Ice, and Salt
Any method that involves placing your keg in a tub-like container and dumping ice all around it will require ice cubes, cool water, and salt. These make your keg colder for a more sustained period.
You will want to pack your container with as much ice as possible, then fill in the remaining area with cool water. This ensures a larger area for the coldness to travel through.
Adding salt to your ice will melt it at first but will make any ice used even colder and ensure that your ice lasts longer.
9) Dry Ice
The alternative to using normal ice and salt is dry ice to cool your kegs. It’s used similarly, being added to the container around your keg as close to the event as possible.
Dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) is a possible alternative to ice, though you need to take more precautions when using it. These include handling them with gloves, having proper ventilation, and dealing with fumes.
If you’re transporting your keg over long distances, it’s best to stick to regular frozen water instead of frozen C02.
The bathtub is an improvised container that works similar to a keg tub or kiddie pool. It allows you to fit multiple kegs at once while giving you enough room to surround them with ice.
It may not be easy to transport, but if you have more kegs than you have room in your containers for, a bathtub will give you enough room to cool off your kegs, and its novelty will even impress your guests.
You can get even through a keg sleeve over your improvised cooler to trap the cold in for best results. You can even hook up your kegs to a jockey box for maximum coolness.
Additional Tips to Keep a Keg Cold Without a Kegerator
Here are a few more things to remember when keeping a beer keg cold without a kegerator. These tips will allow you to keep it cooler, fresher and more protected for longer.
1) Keep Your Beer Keg in the Shade
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it can’t be emphasized enough how much heat from the sun can be detrimental to keeping your keg cold.
Avoid the sun as much as possible if you want cold beer from the tap.
2) Place It in the Refrigerator Overnight
You can ensure the right interior temperature by keeping your keg in the refrigerator (making enough space for it and adding wooden blocks to support it) overnight before a big day outside.
This allows you to get it nice and cold before transporting it.
You can wrap it in a keg sleeve or keg blanket, shove it in a mini-fridge if it’ll fit, or surround it with ice, adding salt to make it extra-cold.
3) Don’t Use a Chest Freezer
As tempting as shoving your metal keg into a regular chest freezer, there is such a thing as “too cold.” The freezer’s temperature will make the keg cooler than it needs to be.
This will lead to beer that won’t even escape your tap, practically turning into ice inside your keg. This will make it impossible to dispense beer, ruining the experience more than warm beer ever could.
4) Add Salt to Your Ice
You’ve seen this in ice cream recipes and in the time before electric refrigeration.
Adding salt to your ice will allow the freezing point to lower, which makes your ice cooler and even make it last longer.
This salt-water ice mixture absorbs heat, transferring the cold to your beer keg, making it cooler for longer than if you just used plain ice.
5) Transport It Upright
Without a kegerator, how cold your keg can get will depend on external factors, like how much ice you pack into your cooler or jockey box. Aside from that, it also depends on the orientation.
Transporting your keg right side up not only helps you get it cold. It’s vital for protecting the pressure regulator and your CO2 tank. It would help if you had the CO2 to get a smooth pour out of your keg.
Before moving to protect your drinking equipment, disconnect the pressure regulator assembly and strap both your keg and your CO2 tank.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some of the other pertinent questions people have regarding how to keep a keg cold.
Does a Keg Need to Be Kept Cold?
Keeping a keg cold is vital for preserving unpasteurized beer, most often served from beer kegs. It keeps the beer fresh, allowing you to consume it without worrying about safety.
You will also need to keep a keg cold to preserve the taste and quality of your beer.
A warm keg can lead your beer to spoil faster, release more bubbles thanks to carbon dioxide, and even make it taste metallic.
Make sure to keep your keg cool to preserve its flavor and integrity.
How Do You Keep a 1/2 Barrel Keg Cold?
Whether you use a 1/2 barrel keg, a 1/4th barrel or even a 1/6th barrel keg, the best way to keep your keg cool is to place it in a container like a garbage can or keg tub you can fill up with ice.
How much ice you need will depend on the size of your barrel and container. The larger your barrel is, the more ice you will need. Pack it with ice and cold water to keep the keg cold.
How Long Will a Keg Last if Kept Cold?
A keg will keep beer colder for at least 8 hours when sufficiently cooled. This should cover a day outdoors, a night’s worth of partying, an afternoon watching the game, etc.
The best course of action is to keep it in a keg blanket, keg barrel cooler or even inside a mini-refrigerator and add ice as often as possible to keep the beer cooler for longer.
How Can I Keep My Keg Cold in the Summer?
The heat can do a number on the flavor and quality of your beer. If you have a big day coming up, you can keep your keg in your refrigerator the night before.
You can also keep your keg inside a tub or garbage can and cover as much surface area as possible with ice. You can even cover it with an old blanket to keep it away from direct sunlight.
If you need to keep more than one keg cold without a kegerator, you can use a jockey box to cool the beer rather than the heavy kegs.
How can I keep a keg cold without a kegerator?
There are several ways to keep a keg cold without a kegerator. Some of the methods include using a keg tub filled with ice, a jockey box that uses chilled coils to cool the beer, an insulated jacket or sheet wrapped around the keg, burying the keg in a hole in the ground filled with ice, storing it in a cool basement, using the wet t-shirt and fan method, using a kiddie pool filled with ice, using a combination of cold water, ice, and salt, using dry ice, or using a bathtub filled with ice.
What is a jockey box and how does it work?
A jockey box is a piece of beer cooling equipment that uses chilled coils to cool the beer. The beer lines hook up to the cold beer keg on one end and a tap on the other. The coils are surrounded by as much ice as possible, which makes the metal extremely cold and cools the beer as it travels to the tap.
How can I keep a keg cold for a long period?
To keep a keg cold for a long period, you can use methods like placing it in a container filled with ice, wrapping it in an insulated jacket or sheet, or using a jockey box. Additionally, you can keep the keg in the shade, place it in the refrigerator overnight, add salt to your ice, and transport it upright.
Can a keg be too cold?
Yes, a keg can be too cold. If a keg is placed in a regular chest freezer, the temperature can make the keg cooler than it needs to be. This can lead to the beer turning into ice inside the keg, making it impossible to dispense the beer.
How long will a keg last if kept cold?
A keg will keep beer colder for at least 8 hours when sufficiently cooled. This should cover a day outdoors, a night’s worth of partying, an afternoon watching the game, etc. The best course of action is to keep it in a keg blanket, keg barrel cooler or even inside a mini-refrigerator and add ice as often as possible to keep the beer cooler for longer.
Your main goal with kegs is to keep the keg and the beer inside cold for an extended period. There are many ingenious ways to keep your beer cold that don’t involve buying an expensive kegerator.
Your imagination limits you from pouring additional ice into a suitable container to wrapping it in an insulated jacket designed to keep your beer at the ideal temperature.
Whatever method you choose, your beer keg will stay ice-cool and your beer deliciously refreshing for a long time.
Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy. I’ve been homebrewing for +20 yrs, an aspiring pro-brewer and micro brewery owner!