Do taps fit all kegs?

Answered by James Porterfield

When it comes to tapping a keg, it's essential to have the right keg coupler. Contrary to popular belief, taps do not fit all kegs. Different kegs, depending on their style of and country of origin, require specific types of couplers. This is because kegs come in various shapes and sizes, and the coupler is designed to fit the specific keg type.

For example, in the United States, the majority of domestic beers use a “D” system coupler, also known as the American Sankey. This coupler has a probe that fits into the keg's valve, allowing the beer to flow. It's important to note that not all American beers use the same coupler, as some craft breweries may use different systems.

On the other hand, European beers often require different couplers. The most common type is the “S” system coupler, also known as the European Sankey. This coupler has a smaller probe compared to the American Sankey, allowing it to fit into the smaller valves of European kegs. Additionally, there are other European coupler types such as the A, G, and M systems, each specific to certain regions or breweries.

Furthermore, there are specialty couplers for specific beer styles or brands. For example, Guinness kegs require a unique coupler known as the Guinness U System, which has a special nitrogen gas mixture used to dispense their famous . Similarly, German breweries often use the A-type coupler, specifically designed for their kegs.

It's important to know which type of coupler you need before tapping a keg to ensure a proper fit and avoid any potential leaks or dispensing issues. Using the wrong coupler can result in beer not flowing correctly or even damaging the keg or coupler.

In my personal experience as a brewer and sommelier, I have come across situations where the wrong coupler was used for a keg. I once attended a beer festival where a particular European beer was being served. Unfortunately, the event organizers had mistakenly used an American Sankey coupler instead of the required European coupler. As a result, the beer could not be properly dispensed, leading to frustration among attendees and a waste of beer.

To summarize, taps do not fit all kegs. Different kegs require specific types of couplers, depending on their beer style and country of origin. It is crucial to use the correct coupler to ensure proper dispensing and avoid any issues with the keg or coupler.