It’s March Madness time, and that means lots of bracket-busting, television watching, and old fashioned shouting as a select few basketball squads make their way to the Final Four. And nothing quite goes as well with keeping your eyes glued to the game as having a good supply of beer on hand. Whether it’s for your “man cave”, your man’s man cave, or just because you really like beer, there’s no bigger dream than having your favorite brew on tap. That’s the promise of today’s piece of gear.
The NewAir Kegerator (technically the AK-200SS) is a lovely stainless steel version of their previous model (the black AK-200BK). If you have the space and the inclination- it’s a bit of hassle to set up and you will need to drink a fair bit of beer- then this is certainly one of the best models we’ve seen on the market. You’ll need a small crew to move the item, as it’s the size of a mid-size refrigerator and hefty even before you add the keg. After all, it’s basically a refrigerator! Here’s the basics:
- Keep beer on-tap and frosty cold for convenient enjoyment
- Flexible refrigerated storage holds full-size or Pony kegs
- Includes 2.5 lb. CO2 bottle (ships empty) - dispense up to 60 gallons of beers without refilling
That last bullet point was the tough part for us. Manhattan is, it turns out, a very difficult place to find compressed gases on short notice, especially on the weekends. Even in the other burroughs, most options are closed except during business hours during weekdays, so keep that in mind. Wherever you are, you’ll want to look for one of a few select operations that is likely to be able to help you out- paintball shops, even scuba outfitters, but most especially anywhere like a welding supply store. You’ll want to bring this canister with you to avoid issues, and a canister will last a long time- we didn’t run out in our month-long test. And it’s not that pricey, though costs will vary based on your area.
Once you’ve gotten the carbon dioxide, you’re ready to find a keg. In some places, this might be challenging, but we found one easily- and most deliver, though there may be a fee. It could you upwards of $100 plus deposit to get even a small pony keg, and better beers can run much more, so keep that in mind when you’re considering whether a kegerator is right for your pool room. A keg can last for months, though, in the right conditions. Hopefully, it won’t last nearly that long- you’ve got the party plans, and all you need to do is the final setup.
The hoses and tubes may seem complicated, but they aren’t. If you’ve hooked up a paint sprayer or even a basic air compressor, you’ll get the idea quickly. Thankfully, the tubing is long enough that you don’t have to try to squeeze into the unit itself. One important tip: order matters, and make sure that you’ve disengaged the keg handle. You can set the pressure- they recommend between 10 and 12 psi, which should work for most folks. Temperature is also controllable and quite important- most people serve beer a bit too cold and the optimal temperature depends on the style and other factors. They have some basic information online here.
We didn’t find much maintenance required, aside from some cleaning and checking in on the CO2 levels. The tap itself isn’t great- it’s a bit unimpressive in scale compared to the unit itself- but is high enough that you can fit even pitchers below. And everything wipes up neatly, with a drip tray helpfully included. The kegerator also has casters, which allow for easy rolling.
All in all, it’s not a cheap addition to your kitchen, rec room, or bar- but it’s sure to make visitors envious and keep them coming back for the draft beer. If you love variety, then this might not be for you- a single tap with a single beer requires a dedication to that type. But it’s a lovely unit, and we had a lot of fun tracking down CO2 and kegs. Available now, for around $600. Even better, they are currently running a promotion- enter the March Madness tournament for free, for a chance to win the black model!