What is a Jockey Box?
In its simplest terms, a jockey box is a portable draft system—used to pour beer (or any kegged beverage) anywhere you want.
When it comes to enjoying draft beer—outside of your favorite local hangout, most people are familiar with renting a cheap hand pump from the same place they bought their beer. These are not those cheap things you used for keg parties in college.
The problem? For one—they use oxygen to pressurize the keg, and if you didn’t already know—BEER HATES OXYGEN.
Plain and simple: it’ll make your beer taste stale—like drinking wet cardboard. And two, because we haven’t been taught any better, we’re programmed to pump the heck out of it, but there’s no way to measure how much pressure we’re forcing inside the keg and into the beer. This results in excessive foam and wasted beer. Both are major party fouls.
And, let’s be honest—they’ll always be associated with ameatur house parties and keg stands. And we’ve graduated since then. So, a better way to pour draft beer on your own is with a jockey box.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
Jockey boxes are generally constructed from insulated coolers, modified to accommodate the essential components required to transform them into sophisticated and reliable mobile draft units.
The key ingredients are coils, shank plates, and faucets. Whether you’ve known them by name, chances are you’ve seen a jockey box in use at a catered event, like a wedding, or at a beer festival and just didn’t realize it.
If you’re shopping around, look for one constructed from a durable cooler with—and this is important—FOOD-GRADE STAINLESS STEEL parts.
So you’re aware, there are some on the market that use chrome-plated brass. While chrome has no negative impact on beer quality, over time through normal use and cleaning, chrome will wear off and expose the brass. That brass is going to result in metallic off-flavors and sanitation issues. So, stick with the industry standard: stainless steel.
HOW IT WORKS
To answer a common question, no—jockey boxes don’t require electricity, batteries, or even WiFi. Just a CO2 tank and ice. This makes them convenient for indoor and outdoor use.
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 beer inside of them down to a proper serving temperature so you get a cold pint, everytime.
DO I NEED TO KEEP THE KEG COLD?
Jockey boxes are designed to chill the beer as it enters via beverage line and flows through the coils, so while prior refrigeration and icing the kegs is not necessary, it will help minimize ice melting inside the jockey box on extremely hot days.
Depending on your pouring scenario, our jockey boxes will chill your very first (and every subsequent) pour from a keg at room temperature (~ 70° F) down to a proper serving temperature, under 40° F.
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.
A dispensing kit includes the following key components:
- A coupler that attaches to your keg
- Beverage tubing that carries beer (or whatever you’re serving)
- Red tubing that carries gas—in our case, CO2
- A CO2 tank
- A CO2 regulator
If you’re new to the game and short on time, we have complete dispensing kits available that come with everything you’ll need to get started.
And, for a detailed, step-by-step description, check out our blog post on how to set up a jockey box.
While jockey boxes have been historically synonymous with the brewing industry, please consider this an open invitation to anyone who’s curious or enthusiastic about pouring draft beer wherever you want with the same quality and integrity as your favorite taproom.
A jockey box is the new water cooler—a communal focal point that brings people together, enhances special occasions, and creates memorable moments.
Now, all you need to do is decide what you’re in the mood for—and go tap it!