How to set up a Jockey Box
While our jockey boxes are available in a variety of styles, the internal components we use to manufacture them are all the same. The model shown below may be different than the one you purchased, but the applications transfer.
In order to move beer from its keg into your pint glass, there are two sides that have to work together—one is the gas (or, CO2) side; the other is the liquid (or, beer) side.
PARTS NEEDED (sold separately)
- Jockey box
- Keg(s) of whatever you’re serving
- CO2 Tank
- Dispensing Kit, Which includes two types of tubing (for your gas line and beer line), a coupler that attaches both of them to your keg, and a CO regulator—everything you need to start pouring right now.
Additionally, you’ll need three simple, non-powered tools: a faucet wrench (incl. with your jockey box purchase), a crescent wrench, and a flat-head screwdriver (or ¼” nut driver).
Note re. universal threads: All of our jockey boxes use the industry standard thread, 7/8"-14 (5/8" BSP). It’s the same thread that is used on standard keg couplers and tailpieces and hex nuts. If you have existing jockey box beverage jumper tubing, they will fit our jockey boxes.
Getting to Know Your Jockey Box
A. Beer faucet*
B. Black tap handle
C. Liquid input shanks*
D. Drain plug*
F. Beer hex nut
I. CO2 tank
J. CO2 regulator
K. CO2 air line
L. CO2 Manifold
M. Beverage jumpers*
N. Beer coupler (Sankey 'D')*
O. Beer washer
P. Hose clamp
*manufactured with stainless steel
CLEANING & RINSING
Prior to your first use, you should run a cleaner through the coils to remove any debris left behind by the manufacturing process, then flush with hot water.
After cleaning (and each use), sanitize the coils with a rinse-free sanitizer. These solutions can be forced through the coils using a hand pump or pressurized cleaning keg. Visit the cleaning solution manufacturer’s website for proper mixing ratios and chemical safety tips.
Hook your jockey box up to any outdoor garden hose spigot with our Flush-out Hose. Attach the garden hose female fitting to any standard water faucet, and the winged beer nut end, for easy wrench-free installation, on the liquid input shanks (C).
We’re going to work in steps, starting with the gas side…
This is so important that we actually have to mention it before Step 1: Do not add ice until your jockey box is completely set up. Common sense will tell you that it’ll be heavier to move after it’s full of ice. And, two—stainless steel coils will likely have residual moisture in them from their previous cleaning so make sure you run beer through them before adding ice.
STEP 1: ATTACH REGULATOR
Attach your regulator (J) to your CO2 tank (I), and tighten with a crescent wrench. The dial on the front of the regulator controls the flow of gas to the keg, allowing us to adjust the right amount of pressure for the beer.
The top gauge measures PSI—or amount of CO2 being delivered to the keg. This is the gauge we’ll focus on, and most important for what we’re using it for.
The secondary gauge, if your regulator has one, measures the gas pressure inside the tank, but not its weight. It can be helpful in forecasting when your tank is getting close to empty.
The easiest way to tell how much CO2 is left in your tank is to weigh it. Empty, our aluminum, 5 lb tanks weigh just over 7-and-a-half pounds, known as their Tare weight, which should be imprinted on the tank. Full, they should weigh approx. 12.5 pounds.
A good rule of thumb is to plan for about 1 lb of CO2 for every half-barrel keg you’re pouring.
Also, If you’ve ordered one from us or someone else online, you’ll need to have it filled at a local retailer as federal law prohibits shipping full tanks.
STEP 2: ATTACH CO2 LINES
Attach one end of your gas line (K) to the output on the regulator (J) and the other end to the input on the SIDE of the coupler.
But, before doing so, make sure that the valve on your regulator is set to the “off” position.
Secure the line with the included hose clamps (P), and tighten them in place with a flat-head screwdriver or a ¼-inch nut driver. (I can’t use that because I’m allergic)
For both your gas line and beverage line, 4’-6’ is standard. We’ve trimmed ours for the demonstration.
(optional) STEP 2.5: ATTACH MANIFOLD
If you’re setting up a jockey box with more than one tap, you'll need a CO2 manifold (L)—which simply acts as a “splitter” to send gas to multiple kegs so you can pour several kegs at the same time.
Using the supplied hose clamps (P), attach one end of a CO2 line (K) to the regulator (J) and the other end to the input on the CO2 manifold (L). Connect air lines (K) on the output side of the manifold (L) to the CO2 input on the couplers (N).
Our 2 and 4 tap dispensing kits will come with an extra gas line to connect the manifold to your regulator, the manifold itself, a gas line and beverage line for each coupler, and one coupler per each tap on your jockey box.
Also, manifolds have check valves for each line. This gives you the option to turn off CO2 to each coupler and keg independently.
So, to reiterate—for each additional tap on your jockey box, you'll need another gas line, beverage jumper, and coupler.
STEP 3: ATTACH BEVERAGE LINES
Attach one end of your beverage jumper (M) to the input (C) on your jockey box. Inputs can be on the front or the rear, depending on the model.
Make sure to use the included beer washers (O) between each connection for a leak-free seal. Then, secure each end in place with a hose clamp, tightening with a screwdriver, just like you did with your CO2 line.
Inside tip: Coldbreak beverage jumpers with our custom tailpieces come assembled, but it’s still always a safe bet to check your connections before each use to ensure that everything’s secure.
STEP 4: ATTACH FAUCETS
Hold the faucet (A) straight up against the spinning faucet collar. Inside both are a series of teeth that will sync into place, and rotate the faucet collar counter-clockwise until hand-tight.
Then use your faucet wrench (included) to secure into place. You’ll insert its single tooth into one of the holes on the faucet collar as leverage.
STEP 5: CONNECT COUPLERS
Before doing so, make sure the faucets (A) on your jockey box are completely closed.
Start with the coupler’s (N) handle angled up—in the “unlocked” position. Then, line up the threads on the coupler to the keg and twist the coupler clockwise until you feel them sync and you can’t twist it any more.
Pull out on the handle, push it down into place, and release it to engage. The handle will lock into place once it’s engaged.
FYI, Sankey “D” style couplers, standard in the U.S, are compatible with any domestic keg.
A quick lesson in keg anatomy shows us that CO2 enters the keg through the coupler and pushes down on the beer, which forces the beer up through the center spear, where it exits out of the top of the coupler, and travels through your beverage line to your jockey box.
STEP 6: TURN ON THE GAS and ADJUST ITS PRESSURE
In a taproom, the pressure for draft beer is lower, typically between 12-15 psi. For a jockey box, however, we need it higher to account for the resistance the beer will meet in traveling through narrow coils.
Open the CO2 tank (I), turn the valve on, and adjust its pressure on the regulator (J) to 25. Jockey boxes fitted with 50’ coils need between 25 and 30 PSI to achieve a proper pouring velocity. If 25 feels too slow, gradually increase to 30.
If your regulator has a red or grey knob, pull out to unlock it. Some regulators have a small adjustment screw in place of a knob. If so, use a screwdriver to adjust it instead.
A quick lesson in gas anatomy tells us that our regulator only adds CO2 pressure. It CANNOT remove it from a keg. However, if you notice you’ve set your regulator too high after you’ve already started serving, you’ll need to release some of the pressure inside the keg.
Here’s how. Start by turning down your regulator a few turns. You won’t see the gauge on your
regulator move until we release the excess pressure. Do that by pulling the relief valve on your coupler for a second or three until the hiss fades. Then, re-increase the pressure by turning the regulator back up to the suggested 25 to 30 psi.
Keep in mind, jockey boxes are best utilized in non-permanent scenarios. They’re unlike kegerators in that they should not be left connected to CO2 at 25 psi. Doing so will over-carbonate your beer.
If you do intend to use your jockey box to continue enjoying the same kegs for a couple days in a row—uninterrupted—that’s totally fine—and easy to do.
When you’re done serving at the end of the day, but know you’ll resume pouring tomorrow, follow the same process that we just mentioned for releasing pressure—with one caveat: we turn down the regulator to 12 psi.
- Turn down your regulator a few turns. Remember that you won’t see the dial on your regulator move until we release the excess pressure.
- Then, pull the relief valve on your coupler until the hiss fades.
- Then, instead of leaving the gas pressure between 25 and 30 psi like we do for pouring, we want to make sure that—for a temporary overnight pause—we turn down the regulator to 12 psi.
Now you’re good to leave everything hooked up overnight.
One last thing to note—for anyone who may be unfamiliar with or intimidated by compressed air: In case of extreme user-error—should the pressure inside your regulator or keg accidentally get set way too high, both have emergency release valves that will automatically engage before either have a chance of reaching an unsafe level.
STEP 7: FILL you JB’S COILS
Remember—this step needs to happen BEFORE adding ice. Run your beer, or whatever’s in your keg, all the way through the coils. As we mentioned earlier, should there be any residual moisture from the previous cleaning, filling your coils with your beverage will combat any freezing.
STEP 8: CHECK ALL THE CONNECTIONS
Before we get caught staring down a line of thirsty guests, we want to check every connection for any beverage or gas leaks. This is a natural best practice in preventing issues from accidental user-error before you start serving.
To check for gas leaks, listen for any hissing at the CO tank and where the gas line connects to the regulator and coupler.
Trace your beer from the coupler attached to its keg across the beverage jumper and all the way through your jockey box from its inputs to faucets. Look for any leaks or dripping on both the exterior and interior.
On the inside of the jockey box, it’s a good idea to give a once-over to the shanks that connect the coils to the faucets. Sometimes, they can loosen over time or during rugged travel. If they’re loose, simply hold the shank in place, and use a crescent wrench to tighten the beer hex nut (F).
It’s good to note here that this is another reason for not prematurely filling your jockey box with ice, as it would make checking your internal connections difficult.
STEP 9: ADD ICE
Okay, now it’s time! Fill the cooler completely full of ice. Ice capacity will vary depending on the jockey box model and size—the important point here is to fill the cooler completely.
STEP 10: ACCLIMATE
Once the cooler is completely full of ice, give it 10-15 minutes for all the stainless steel parts your beer is going to come into contact with to acclimate. Once the entire cooler and its parts are at the same temperature, you’ll get a perfect pour.
A good indication that it’s ready is when the faucet is cold to the touch or condensation appears on it, meaning that it’s cold.
Congratulations! You’ve just set up your jockey box, AND learned how to incorporate a manifold for dispensing multiple kegs. You’re pretty much a trained professional now.
Now, it’s time to pour yourself one! And, while you’re sippin’, maybe you could take a photo of your jockey box set up, and tag us @coldbreakusa? Just sayin’.
We know we just threw a lot at you, especially if this is your first rodeo, but trust—setting up a jockey box will feel like second nature before you know it.
The investment you’ve made in becoming fluent with a jockey box will earn the respect and appreciation that good beer—poured well—deserves.
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