The function of a faucet in dispensing beer is so crucial, yet its importance is so often completely overlooked. You may think a beer faucet is obviously a faucet and that’s all there is to it, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
The intended function, design, shape, and materials used are all important factors to consider when looking at faucets. Forget what you think you know and get ready to be instilled with a deeper appreciation for the role that beer faucets play in dispensing your favorite beverage.
What is a Beer Faucet?
A beer faucet is the last component your beer touches before it hits your glass. Like all faucets, it’s meant to direct the flow of your brew and help ensure that perfect pour we all strive for.
Faucets are also what the tap handle connects to. Often mistaken as the same component, tap handles are merely the lever in which you pull to both commence and suspend the flow of beer to the faucet. They are also used, especially in commercial environments, to identify what type of beer that will be served from that specific faucet.
3 Types of Beer Faucets
With a variety of types and finishes of faucets out there, it’s important to know what’s what. Here’s the different faucet types explained, so you can be sure to get the perfect one for your beer dispensing needs.
1. Standard Faucets
Standard faucets are what you probably already associate with a “beer faucet.” It’s the most common type, often found on home kegerators and commercial draft systems. They are designed to dispense a wide variety of beer styles, including all American ales and lagers.
Typically rear-sealing, this faucet may come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and finishes. The standard faucet is designed to easily attach to either a shank for through-the-wall/door dispensing or, if dispensing from a kegerator, directly to the draft tower.
2. European Faucets
European faucets work in the same manner as a standard beer faucet, yet stylistically they look slightly different. The most noticeable distinction between the two types of beer faucets is the longer, skinnier spout found on the European version. This helps decrease the overall amount of foamhead in your pour.
However, it must be noted that sometimes, European beer faucets will have different threads and/or a shorter shank than your standard US-style beer faucet. This may affect your overall ability to connect them to your existing components on your kegerator.
3. Stout (Nitrogen) Faucets
Stout beer faucets are designed to accommodate nitrogen-based draft system. Most popularly, these are used to dispense stout beers, such as Guinness (hence the name of the faucet). This type of beer faucet has a very small, precise opening intentionally designed to allow for a very slow pour.
If you’ve ever watched a bartender pour a Guinness beer, they pour it very slowly and in two stages. This is to allow for a perfectly foaming head full of aroma. This helps create a smoother, creamier beer. If you were to dispense a stout beer using a standard faucet, your beer would dispense way too quickly and likely be full of foam.
Beer Faucet Features
As you can see from the different types listed above, not all faucets are designed to be the same. Aside from the different types, there are also a couple of common “features” that you should know about when shopping for a beer faucet.
- Flow Control Faucets:
Flow control faucets feature longer and thinner openings, which are more beneficial for a slow controlled pour with less foam.
- Self-Closing Faucets:
Rather than having to push the lever closed, self-closing faucets automatically close when you let go of the tap handle. These can be a handy upgrade to have, especially in busy commercial bar environments.
Finishing Touch: Chrome vs. Stainless Steel vs. Brass
Faucets come in a variety of finishes. And each type of finish does indeed play a larger role than just the way the faucet looks.
Most commonly, beer faucets are chrome-plated brass, so if you see that a faucet is listed as chrome, the faucet is most likely made from brass and just coated with a chrome finish. The reason for the chrome plating is for aesthetics, giving it an attractive silver sheen.
Sometimes the lever will be stainless steel rather than brass. This is an important distinction as stainless steel is much stronger than brass. Brass levers are more susceptible to breaking or completely snapping off. If you use your draft system quite frequently or fervently, springing for a stainless steel lever is highly recommended.
Stainless steel faucets are an upgrade from brass and chrome faucets, both in aesthetics and in functionality. Like discussed earlier, stainless steel faucets are less susceptible to wear and tear but they also don’t affect the taste of what you’re dispensing. This isn’t as much a concern with beer dispensing, but if you ever decide to use your draft system to dispense wine, coffee, or kombucha, you will want to be sure to use a stainless steel faucet.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, you’ll be able to dispense your favorite beers perfectly using the perfect faucet.