If you know what beer tapping is but you’re looking to learn how to tap a keg at home using a classic party pump, you may like to learn a few basic steps to get the best out of your chosen brew.

How to Tap a Keg

1 – Prep

One important piece of research before you plan to tap a keg: identify the type of coupler system of your keg, and acquire the correct tap/coupler/pump type. The majority of beer kegs sold in the US use the American ‘D’ system. Imports will use the European ‘S’ system or a number of other less-common systems. Your keg distributor should point you in the right direction and will often supply the correct parts too.

2 – Chill

Ice your keg. The whole keg, not just the bottom third. This will help you later with pouring a perfect head, and not a cup of foam. A large bucket or garbage bag can help you stuff ice around the sides of the keg and keep it tightly packed. Leave the keg to chill for several hours. Don’t forget to also ice your tap and beer line for about an hour before you pour.

3 – Connect

Remove any plastic or cardboard from around the tap fixture at the top of the keg. With the pump handle up (this is the off position), line up the coupler lugs with the corresponding openings on the keg valve. While applying downward pressure, turn the tap system clockwise as far as it will go (about 90 degrees).

Tap A Keg of Beer - Party Pump Tap Faucet Handle

Image via Aaron Hockley (Flickr CC)

4 – Engage

Push the pump handle down (this is the on position). This allows gas to enter the keg, and the beer to flow out. Check the seating. If you see bubbles around the connection, then it is not seated correctly and you will have to turn the pump handle back off and disconnect the pump and try again.

5 – Pour

With a full, new keg, you will not have to pump for the first few pints – there is already enough pressure within the keg to get the beer flowing. Simply push down on the valve at the end of the beer line, and pour it into your drinking vessel. It is very likely that the first pint will be all foam. This is usual, and you can either set it aside or discard it. After pouring several pints, you may wish to use the pump to build up the pressure in the keg again from the displaced liquid.

Bonus Pro Tip: Open the pouring valve first, then pump the handle until your drinking vessel is full, then stop pumping. Only pump with the pouring valve open.

There you have it: How To Tap A Keg. Raise a toast. Drink Responsibly.