When transporting a beer keg, your main priorities should be avoiding injuries, preventing damage to your vehicle, and—perhaps most importantly—arriving at your destination without transforming half the keg’s contents into a foamy disaster waiting to happen. While you generally don’t need to worry about your keg actually exploding or leaking all over your vehicle, you should take a few precautions to ensure its safe arrival at your destination:
Choosing a hot time of day to pick up the keg
Transporting your beer in the full heat of the day can affect its flavor. While it won’t necessarily get “skunky,” which requires exposure to light, heat can accelerate certain chemical breakdowns that can cause your beer to take on less than optimal flavors. Beyond that, it can be a pain to get the beer back to its optimal, chilled state if you let it get too warm.
Not asking for help
When full, standard-sized beer kegs typically weigh right around 160 pounds, so trying to carry one by yourself is not a great idea if you want to avoid the possibility of a strained back or broken toes. Either bring a friend with you to pick up the keg or ask a sales clerk to help you heft the keg into your vehicle.
Rolling (or dropping) the beer keg
Related to the above, two of the worst things you can do, with regard to preserving beer quality, are to roll the keg from place to place or drop it mid-transport. Many kegs have handles that allow for easier carrying; if yours doesn’t, use a dolly, or carefully carry the keg with the help of a partner.
Transporting keg on its side
While it’s not the worst thing in the world to transport the beer on its side, you’ll have better luck keeping it from becoming a foamy mess if you keep the keg upright during transport. This may been using a pickup truck, rather than a car, to get the keg to its destination. Whichever method you choose, use a bungee cord or two to firmly secure the keg for its journey.
Driving like a maniac
When you’re driving with a beer keg in tow, you’ll want to take it easy, much as you would if you had a baby in your car—in this case, a 160-pound, sloshy baby. You’ll want to avoid braking hard, turning sharply, taking detours down pothole-filled streets, or making any similar maneuvers. Keeping the ride as smooth as possible will help preserve the integrity of your beer.
Not letting the keg chill
When you arrive at your destination, you should let your beer chill for at least a few hours before serving. If you don’t have a kegerator handy, you can always use a trash can to give the keg an ice bath.
Not letting the keg settle
Along with chilling, the beer needs to settle for at least a few hours, with overnight being preferable. The longer you wait to tap the keg, the higher your chances of not pouring straight foam for the first few dozen pours.
Nothing kills a party like crappy beer, so choose your methods of transportation and storage wisely. Your friends will thank you for your keg-handling diligence.
(As a heads up, Dolly can’t help with transporting your beer keg)
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