Jeff Flowers on April 24, 2014 7 Comments 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, also called a beer tap, 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.” Without a doubt, this is the most common type of beer faucet out there, and is likely the one that is found on your personal kegerator, as well as the majority of commercial draft systems. This faucet is designed to dispense a wide variety of beer styles. This includes all American ales and lagers. Typically rear-sealing, this beer faucet are widely available in a variety of shapes, sizes and finishes. The standard beer faucet is designed for easy installation and can be swapped out with ease. This includes the draft tower of your kegerator, as well as a shank for through-the-wall or door-dispensing units, such as a converted kegerator. 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 is important to note that sometimes, European beer faucets will have different threads and/or a shorter shank than your standard US-style beer faucet. This will likely affect whether you have the ability to connect or swap out your existing component on your kegerator with this type of faucet. It is not uncommon for you to need to buy a new draft tower or shank to make this faucet work. 3. Stout (Nitrogen) Faucets Stout beer faucets are designed to accommodate a nitrogen-based draft system. Most popularly, these are used to dispense nitro beers and stouts, 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. In fact, for Guinness specifically, if they pour it correctly, it should take at least two minutes. This slower pour is to allow for a perfectly foaming head that allows the aroma to blossom. This helps create a smoother, creamier beer. If you were to dispense a stout or nitro beer using a standard faucet, it would come out 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. The Finishing Touch — Chrome vs. Stainless Steel vs. Brass Like most kegerators and other components, the faucet is available in a variety of finishes. And depending on the material its made from, the finish does indeed play a larger role than just the way the tap looks. The most common type of material you will come across is chrome-plated brass. These taps are often listed as having a “chrome” finish, but the material is actually brass that has been coated with a chrome “finish” for aesthetics. The attractive silver sheen is usually the preferred choice for both personal and commercial kegerators. This isn’t always the case, and is entirely up to you on what you prefer. It must be noted that a brass beer faucet may alter the overall flavor and aroma of the beer passing through. What is an important consideration, however, is the material that the lever of the faucet is made from. Stainless steel will be much stronger than brass. This is an important distinction as a brass lever in the faucet is more susceptible to wear-and-tear. For infrequent pours, this shouldn’t be much of a concern. But, if you use your draft beer system quite frequently or pour a pint with fervent enthusiasm, then springing for a faucet that has a stainless steel lever is highly recommended. Stainless steel faucets are an upgrade from brass and chrome faucets, certainly for overall functionality, but perhaps also for aesthetic preferences, too. Like discussed earlier, stainless steel faucets are less susceptible to wear and tear but they also do not affect the taste or aroma of what you’re dispensing. But, if you’re using a kegerator to dispense wine, coffee, sparking water or kombucha, then it is recommended that you 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.