How to Keep A Keg Cold | 5 Ideas For Keeping a Keg Cold Without A Kegerator

Lots of people like warm beer, and that’s okay. But more often than not, we show up to a party where a frantic friend is trying to figure out how to keep a keg cold for the entire event. This is important for draft beers or custom IPAs, as higher-than-normal temperatures can harm a beer’s taste.

Kegerators are a combination of a keg and a refrigerator, so as a result, they look like a minifridge. It’s designed to hold a keg in a freezer-like environment, keeping the contents chilled. Full-size kegerators include a pressurized CO2 tank so that beer can be dispensed through a faucet. 

The downfall? Kegerators are expensive. For some, the investment is worth it, but many people have no long-term need for a kegerator and need to figure out how to keep a keg cold without a kegerator.

Table of Contents

Keeping a Keg Cold Without a Kegerator

Below we cover five ideas for keeping a keg cold without a kegerator with top-rated products in each category. For the creative do-it-yourself, we cover household items that can help keep a keg cold.

1. Keg Tub

Homz Plastic Utlity Rope Handle Tub, Black (Set of 2)
  • 18 gallon capacity
  • Rugged plastic material with rope handles withstands indoor and outdoor use
  • Multiple tubs nest together for easy storage

One of the most cost-effective ways to keep a keg cold without a kegerator is with a keg tub. 

HOMZ makes a suitable heavy-duty tub with 18-gallon capacity. Keg buckets have rope handles on each side, which allows you to lift it and move it around as needed. The great thing about the tub by HOMZ is that it can be used for many things besides cooling a keg, like storage or catching rainwater, so it wouldn’t be a one-time use.

Pros:

  1. Cost-effective
  2. Tubs can be used for other purposes
  3. Easily transportable

Cons:

  1. Only comes in a set of two
  2. Can break easily under immense pressure

Along with the keg tub, you’ll need ice as well. To use a keg tub, follow these steps:

  1. Layer the bottom of the empty bucket with approximately 12 inches of ice.
  2. Have one or two people help you to lower the beer keg gently into the tub on top of the ice. Try not to move it around too much, or it could cause the beer to dispense with too much foam.
  3. Fill the remainder of the keg tub with ice, including covering the top of the beer keg.
  4. Supplement the ice with cold water to create an ice bath.
  5. Keep an eye on the tub as the event continues and keep replacing the ice as it melts.

The only unfortunate thing about purchasing a keg tub from HOMZ is that they only come in sets of two. You can choose from two heavy-duty 18-gallons tubs or two standard 17-gallon tubs. The standard tubs are more affordable but can break easily under pressure.

2. Keg Blanket

HopsHolster Cool Keg Sleeve Insulator Keg Insulation plus inside pockets hold Freeze and Ice Packs to Keeps Kegs Colder, Easy Transport Dual Reinforced Handles provides easy transport and Cup Holder
  • MAINTAIN KEG TEMPERATURE - thick insulated neoprene material keeps your keg cool for 8+ hours
  • WATERPROOF - inside is waterproof so any ice or wetness on the inside won't leak to the outside
  • INSIDE POCKETS - holds ice and freeze packs to keep kegs colder

A keg blanket, or keg sleeve, is an insulated jacket that wraps around a beer keg to maintain the original temperature. It’s an excellent choice compared to other cooling methods because it doesn’t require any ice or bulky containers.

A popular choice for a keg blanket is the HopsHolster Cool Keg Sleeve. The thick neoprene material keeps a keg cold for over eight hours, and the inside is waterproof, so any condensation won’t leak through to the outside. If you don’t want to rely on insulation alone, inside pockets will hold ice and freeze packs. 

Pros:

  1. Lightweight
  2. Can add additional ice or freeze packs if desired
  3. Waterproof

Cons:

  1. More expensive than other options

Additionally, there’s a built-in sleeve for solo-cups so you and your guests can keep enjoying the beer all night long. It has two secure handles and rolls up tightly for easy transport.

3. Jockey Box

Coldbreak Jockey Box, 1 Tap, Stainless Pass Through, 30 Quart Cooler, 50' Coil, Stainless Steel Shanks, Includes Stainless Faucet, White (1T30MPT)
  • 1 tap, stainless steel shanks
  • Includes stainless steel faucet with black tap handle
  • 50-Foot stainless steel coil (5/16-inch od)

A jockey box is a mobile draft beer system that is built into a generic cooler. It works by feeding beer from the keg into the chilled coils inside of the cooler. The other end of the coils is connected to an external tap.

Coldbreak’s 30 Quart Jockey Box is an excellent choice. It’s more affordable than other boxes and uses an Igloo cooler to keep the ice bath chilled for hours.

Pros:

  1. Coils give an extra layer of chilling
  2. The handled cooler is easy to transport

Cons:

  1. The dispensing kit needs to be purchased separately
  2. Still need to keep the keg chilled to prevent excessive foaming

While purchasing a jockey box may keep a keg cold without a kegerator, it isn’t the easiest or most cost-effective method. It still requires you to keep the keg itself chilled to some extent, or you’ll experience foaming from the tap. 

On the other hand, a jockey box is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to present a more formal option instead of dispensing straight from the keg.

4. Keg Sheet

KegSheet: Keg Insulator Cover Cooler for Kegs and Keg Tubs
  • Keep your keg cold, longer, even in direct sunlight
  • Made with NASA materials technology
  • Compact, light, reusable & recyclable

Not mistaken with a keg blanket or sleeve, a keg sheet is a thin, lightweight material that covers the keg and works as a keg barrel cooler. It works by reflecting heat and direct sunlight to keep your keg cold during outdoor events.

KegSheet’s Cover Cooler is engineered using NASA technology and requires no ice or additional materials.

Pros:

  1. Doesn’t require any water or ice
  2. Lightweight
  3. Effortless set-up

Cons:

  1. Doesn’t last as long as other options
  2. The keg should be pre-chilled before use

Many reviewers also found interesting uses other than chilling a keg, such as keeping groceries chilled or a crockpot warm on a long drive.

5. At Home DIY

Don’t want to purchase anything extra? There are plenty of at-home methods to keep your keg cold without a kegerator. 

You’ll still need bags of ice, but one of the two most popular options is placing a keg in a clean garbage can. Garbage cans are a great choice because they’re found in every household and are large enough to hold a keg. If you’re concerned about sanitation, you can line the can with multiple bags before placing the keg inside. 

The second option is placing your keg inside your bathtub in a bed of ice. Two downfalls to this route are that it may not accommodate a taller keg, and of course, your guests will have to fill their cups in your bathroom, which is less than ideal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Not familiar with kegs? We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions below.

How Long Will a Keg Stay Cold Without Ice?

The amount of time a keg will stay cold without ice is dependent on many factors, such as whether the keg is chilled before tapping and serving, the ambient temperature, and the size of the keg. 

In a hot environment with no chilling options, the keg will warm up quickly, and you’ll experience excessive foaming and a decrease in quality. At room temperature, you can expect a pre-chilled keg to stay cold for two to three hours.

How Many Bags of Ice Does it Take to Keep a Keg Cold?

The amount of ice you’ll need depends on the size of the container you’re using (garbage can, bathtub, bucket) and the keg volume. 

The Kegulator Beer Calculator is a great tool you can use to figure out exactly how many kegs you’ll need, the amount of ice in pounds, and how many cups will be suitable.

What Temperature Do I Need to Store My Keg?

For domestic or imported beers, the recommended temperature for storing and serving is between 36 and 40°F, as well as whether a draft beer is pasteurized or not. Beer that is kept between the high 30s and 40°F will maintain the carbonation level that it was brewed at.

In summer months or hotter temperatures, you may want to adjust the temperature lower. You can maintain the temperature inside the keg using a beer thermometer. 

Of course, everyone’s personal preferences are different. If you prefer your beer to be slightly warmer, you can adjust the temperature by taking away ice, but be careful not to ruin the beer’s quality.

How Long Does a Keg Stay Fresh?

Just like determining how much ice you’ll need to keep a keg cold, a multitude of factors determines how long a keg will stay fresh.

The timer starts as soon as the keg is filled at the brewery. Refrigerated in a kegerator with CO2, a keg will last six to eight weeks before it loses a fresh taste. When stored at the ideal temperature, unpasteurized beer will last for about two months, while pasteurized beer will last anywhere from three to six months.

Wrap Up

There are many options for keeping a keg cold without having to invest in a kegerator. 

Our pick is the HopsHolster Keg Sleeve. It’s lightweight and versatile, and the rugged handles make for easy carrying. You can add additional ice or freezer packs if you’d like extra insulation, but at the minimum, you can expect your keg to stay cold for a minimum of eight hours.

HopsHolster Cool Keg Sleeve Insulator Keg Insulation plus inside pockets hold Freeze and Ice Packs to Keeps Kegs Colder, Easy Transport Dual Reinforced Handles provides easy transport and Cup Holder
  • MAINTAIN KEG TEMPERATURE - thick insulated neoprene material keeps your keg cool for 8+ hours
  • WATERPROOF - inside is waterproof so any ice or wetness on the inside won't leak to the outside
  • INSIDE POCKETS - holds ice and freeze packs to keep kegs colder

The other options listed, a keg tub, jockey box, keg sheet, or even creative at-home methods, are excellent choices as well and depend primarily on your preferences.