Basement Bar Design Accessories #3: Beer Dispensing from Heineken and Elsewhere

I saw an ad from Heineken lately. Apparently it came out in June, but it’s new to me. More to the point, while it’s ostensibly for their minikeg product, it is actually a cool exhibition of the magic of the Basement Bar.

While I’m not sure of the wisdom or popularity of the Chew Bar concept, they are saying the same thing I have on numerous occasions: Look for what you love, and design your bar to be a great place for you and your friends to indulge in it.
The best idea I see here is the Barnacle Bar. Like the shed bar, you have a nice location outside the main house. The Barnacle Bar is located in a cargo container. These have some cool features and are inexpensive. With the way world trade works these days, most first world nations have a surplus of these buggers, in various sizes. You can buy them all over the place, but eBay has them in the $1,500-$2,000 range. They are weather-proof, and if you move, you can have someone pickup your entire bar and take it with you! With some work, a container bar might not even offend the neighbors..
But what about the product focus of the ad, the minikeg and its spiffy dispenser? I don’t have one, since I’m just not much of a beer guy myself. But this won’t stop me from opining on the subject, since lots of people who build Basement Bars want to serve up the cold and frosty stuff.
The ad features the BeerTender by Krups. This is a small countertop refrigerator and tap that works exclusively with the Heineken 5 liter minikeg. If you don’t want to get locked into Heineken, you might consider the competitor from Avanti which works with Heineken, but also with other 5 liter minikegs from competitors. The Krups unit looks a bit more high-end, with two nice features the Avanti appears to lack: An indicator of how much beer is left (always very important), and a display of how long the keglet has been open (how important depends on how much beer you drink).

Both appliances need supplies each time you replace the keg. The Avanti uses CO2 cartridges to pressurize the tap, while the Heneken kegs are already pressurized, but you need a little disposable tube thingy for each keg you load in.
From what I read, both devices seem to work pretty well, though the Krups appears to be more solidly built. The Avanti can be used with refillable kegs, however. If you brew your own, or want to use beer that doesn’t come in 5 liter containers to begin with, you’ll need a unit like the Avanti. Be sure to pre-chill your keg before putting it in, and invest some time in practicing pulling the tap. Some people never seem to get the hang of dispensing anything but foam.
But are minikeg taps in general worth it? Well, they are pretty cool looking, which is important in your Basement Bar. And if you like your beer in a glass, they will cut way down on the amount of trash you will generate. This is important either from a green standpoint, as you contribute less to the world’s solid waste difficulty, or from a laziness standpoint, as you spend less time and effort hauling bags of empties up the stairs!
I would suppose the real consideration here is how much beer you drink on a regular basis. If you won’t usually drink four or five liters in 30 days, you will be wasting a lot of beer. And that would be sad. Likewise, if you and your crew will often need a refill of this device for a single sitting, you probably ought to just break down and get a full sized kegerator, or build a tap into your bar.
As I said before, I don’t have one of these myself. I drink about twelve beers a year in my own home. So take my research with a grain of salt, and do your own. There are competitors for both the Krups and Avanti-style minitaps, and about a billion full-sized options. But no matter what option you go with to serve beer in your Basement (or Container) Bar, a tap will add levels of cool and of big-time that can’t delivered by a cooler full of cans and bottles.

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About the author

Doug

I am 48 years old, married with two young daughters. My interests are tennis, reading, computers, politics, and of course cocktails. I run a murder mystery party business that caters to both corporate and private events, Killing Time, murder consultants.

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