Having a bar at home is a dream for many beer lovers. But what about having a real ale pump, that has got to be the ultimate dream. However what equipment do I need to dispense real ale at my home bar?
It may seem a little daunting to set up a real ale home draught system. However it doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact it is easier than you may think.
What Equipment Do I Need To Dispense Real Ale At My Home Bar?
To get that real pub like pour at home there are a few things that you will need. First you will need a beer engine. Second the beer line and connectors. And third a keg or polypin of your favourite beer. That is basically it, and to make things even easier you can buy these in a complete kit.
There is no need to buy a full cask for home use. Which would probably spoil before you could drink it all. Things have got easy for home draught beer.
A beer engine set up is for real ales, beers with low carbonation. They don’t work well with highly carbonated beers like lager.
What Is A Beer Engine?
A beer engine is the most important part of a home draught system for dispensing real ale. It is essentially a pump that will draw the beer through a line connected to the beer source.
It consists of the engine/pump which sits below the bar. Above the bar sits a wooden base and a long vertical handle which when pulled forward operates the pump and draws beer.
A curved spout sits at the front of the beer engine, sometimes referred to as a swan neck. Also a special nozzle can be fitted to the end of the spout. This is known as a sparkler and aerates the beer to form the foamy head.
Below the spout sits a small tray which collects any drips which is known as a drip tray. These easily lift out to empty and clean.
The beer line is fitted to the bottom of the beer engine, usually at the back via a connector. The other end of the line will connect to the beer source. This could be a polypin (beer in a bag in a box), mini casks and kegs, homebrew barrels and corny kegs.
How Do You Hook Up A Beer Engine?
Thankfully it is pretty easy to hook up a beer engine. First of all you fit the beer engine to a work top. Ideally this will beer your bar top. But any work top will do, even a kitchen work top will be okay.
The base of the beer engine with handle sits on top and the rest sits under the work top. It is just a matter of tightening the clamp screws to the underside of the work top.
Second you add a connector to one end of your beer line. This will then connect to the back of the beer engine. Another connector fits into the other end of the beer line, and this will connect to your beer source.
There are different connectors depending on what you are connecting to. The connector for a polypin will either be a straight connector for a standard twist tap. Or a Vitop connector for the push tap design. A ball lock keg outlet for a corny keg and a straight connector for a pressure barrel.
There is also flexible ale extractor kit for connecting to a cask.
As long as you have the right connector for your beer source, then setting up is quick and easy. Third, once everything is connected, then pop in the drip tray, fit the sparkler and pour a nice pint of beer.
Where Can I Get A Beer Engine To Dispense Real Ale?
There are plenty of companies that sell beer engines and all the parts needed to set up your own home beer pump system. Just search beer engine kit.
It is easy enough to buy all the parts separately, however it is possible to buy a kit from some companies. The kit will contain all the parts you need. You may have to stipulate what you are connecting to because a polypin will need a different connector to a corny keg.
Second hand or refurbished beer engines also come up for sale too. Just bear in mind that a second hand one may need a service or complete refurbishment.
A beer engine and accessories is the best way to get that pub pint experience for real ale at home. The good thing is they are not difficult to set up.
Whether you buy all the parts separately or in kit form, you can be up and running in no time. A beer engine is on my list for my pub shed project next year. I intend to connect to a pressure barrel so I can get my homebrew on draught.
I may even get a second one to connect to a beer in a bag and try out some real ales from different breweries. If you have a beer engine then do share your thoughts on how well they work. Also what you connect to and what beer.