Jockey boxes are a great way to serve cold, delicious beer on tap, without the need for a permanent installation or complicated keg system. In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about jockey boxes, from how they work to how to set one up, and even how to troubleshoot common issues. By the end of this article, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of jockey boxes and be ready to serve up some ice-cold beer at your next event or gathering.
What is a Jockey Box?
A jockey box, also known as a beer box or coil cooler, is a portable, self-contained beer dispensing system. Whether you've known them by name or not, chances are you've seen one in use at a catered event, like a wedding, or at a beer festival and just didn't realize it. It consists of a cooler, a cooling coil, and a beer faucet shank.
How beer Jockey Boxes Work
As beer leaves a keg it flows into the jockey box and travels through stainless steel coils until it reaches the faucet on the front, where it's dispensed. When you fill the cooler with ice, it surrounds the coils, which chills the liquid down so you get a cold pint, every time. To answer a common question, no—beer jockey boxes don't require electricity. Just a CO2 tank and ice. This makes them convenient for indoor and outdoor use.
Setting up and using a jockey box can seem intimidating at first, but rest assured it's not that complicated once you break it down into its components. In addition to the jockey box itself, you'll also need a dispensing kit and CO2—both of which work together to transfer beer from its keg to your jockey box. For a detailed explanation on how to setup your jockey box, read this article.
A dispensing kit includes the following key components:
1. A coupler that attaches to your keg
2. Beverage tubing that carries beer (or whatever liquid you're serving)
3. Vinyl tubing that carries gas—in our case, CO2
4. A CO2 tank
5. A CO2 regulator
Jockey Boxes Are Important In The Mobile Bar & Beer Industry
Jockey boxes are a crucial component of the beer industry, providing several benefits that are integral to the overall success of any brewery or mobile bar.
Jockey boxes ensure that the brew is served at the optimal temperature, which helps to maintain its freshness. When beer is served too warm, it can spoil quickly, which can lead to a poor customer experience
The temperature of beer can also affect its taste. When beer is served too warm, it can taste flat and dull. On the other hand, when it's served too cold, it can mask the flavor of the beer. Jockey boxes help to ensure that the beer is served at the ideal temperature, which can enhance its flavor.
Jockey boxes are also an efficient way to serve beer. They are easy to set up and use, and they can dispense a large amount of beer. This makes them an excellent choice for bars and events where there is a high demand for beer.
Features Of A Good Jockey Box
Now that you know why jockey boxes are important, let's discuss some of the key features of a good jockey box. These include:
Number of Taps
Typically, jockey boxes are designed with 1 to 4 taps per cooler, enabling each coil to dispense its own drink separately. Due to their weight, most jockey boxes max out at 3 to 4 taps. For instance, a 4-tap jockey box, when filled with ice, can weigh as much as 80 pounds.
Jockey boxes and their components are typically made of stainless steel or chrome-plated brass. Stainless steel is durable, long-lasting, easy to clean, and doesn't affect the flavor of your beer. In contrast, chrome-plated brass is more affordable, but it may affect the taste of your beer over time. When purchasing a jockey box, make sure to check the product specifications carefully as most pages will only mention the stainless steel coil and omit the material of the shanks and fittings, which are often made of chrome-plated brass.
The length of the coil is an important factor to consider when choosing a jockey box. A longer coil will provide more surface area for the beer to be cooled, which can improve the efficiency of the system. But it comes at a cost—which is an increase in the PSI. The longer the coil, the higher the PSI is needed to dispense the beer. The perfect middle ground is 50' coils. Cold plate jockey boxes should only be used if your kegs are kept ice cold, as they don't provide enough chilling power. For an in-depth look at coils length, read this article.
Maintaining your Jockey Box is crucial to ensure that it lasts long and serves you well. Cleaning the Jockey Box after each use is recommended to prevent mold and bacteria growth, which can affect the taste and quality of your beer. It is also essential to replace any worn-out or damaged parts to avoid leaks and spills. For a detailed explanation on cleaning your system, read this article.
Wrap it up
In summary, a Jockey Box is an excellent investment for breweries pouring their brew at festivals, catering companies, mobile bars, or even beer enthusiasts who love hosting outdoor events. It is a portable and convenient device that keeps beer at the perfect serving temperature. There are several types of Jockey Boxes available in the market, and maintenance is crucial to ensure longevity and optimal performance. Now, all you need to do is decide what you’re in the mood for—and go tap it!
Oh, and if you literally want to wrap it—read this post.
About the author: Jason Ley
Meet Ley - Marketing Manager for G4 Kegs, the largest independent supplier of stainless steel kegs in the beverage alcohol industry. Ley is also a former CEO and author, with over 15 years of executive management, sales, and marketing experience in various industries.
Ley is a Certified Cicerone®, Executive Bourbon Steward, Certified TIPS® Trainer, published freelance journalist, brand consultant, keynote speaker, and creator of an Emmy-nominated non-scripted reality show called Modern Ahabs.
Keep up with Ley on jasonley.com or social media @jasonley