How to Tap a Keg the Right Way in 8 Steps

by Dane Wilson | Last Updated: March 17, 2023

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Do you have a keg of beer sitting next to you that is just waiting to be tapped? The beer is so close you can probably hear it singing, right? Don’t fret; you’re going to have that keg tapped in no time. You’ve got this. You will not end up in one of those viral YouTube beer keg tapping fail videos. This article will help by detailing how to tap a keg the right way in 8 steps.

Table of Contents

Don't worry, be hoppy. Here is how to tap a keg the right way.

1. Find the Right Coupler

Before you tap the beer keg, you want to make sure you have the correct coupler on hand. Check the keg valve and coupler lugs. There are various systems, such as a D-system, U-system, or G-system. In the United States, the most common type is the D-system coupler.

When in doubt, ask the clerk at the store when purchasing your keg which tap is required for the keg. They should be able to tell you. They may even have the correct coupler for sale if you don’t have one at home.

2. Chill The Keg

Congratulations on the purchase of your brand new keg. Now it’s time to take that baby inside and set it on ice. Yes, you might be antsy about drinking the ambrosial beer inside, but you need to be patient. Warm beer is sad beer, and you don’t want to be sad.

In the case of most American beers, you will want your keg at 35 degrees F (1.7 degrees C) before tapping.

Depending on the size of the keg, you may be able to set it inside a bucket filled with ice or a refrigerator. If you don’t have space for a larger keg in the fridge, kind a cool, dark spot in your home. Grab a large bucket and garbage bag (contractor size is best). Put the bucket in the bag first then swaddle your keg in the plastic. Let that bundle of joy stay covered for at least 24 hours before unwrapping it and removing it from the ice.

For extra chilly beer, put your beer line and tap on ice, as well.

3. Set Up Your Equipment

Now that your keg is ready to rumble, it is time to prepare. First, you will need to remove any cardboard or plastic wrapping from the fixture at the top of the keg. Ensure the pump handle is up—the off position—before you begin lining up the coupler with the keg valve openings.  

Disengaging the tap is crucial to what happens next. If you skip this step, say hello to a beer geyser.

4. Release The Pressure

Before tapping, release any pressure that has built up inside the keg by turning the pressure relief valve on the top of the keg.

5. Insert The Tapping Device

Take a peek at the valve. See those little barbs? Those are the aforementioned coupler lugs. Place the coupler above the keg valve. Line up the lugs and begin screwing down the tap.

You will need to apply downward pressure while turning the tap system clockwise. Continue turning until it stops, which is usually when the handle is at 90 degrees.

Need some visual aid? Here is a nifty video:

Assuming nothing has gone wrong, you have officially tapped your beer keg. Don’t toss the confetti yet.

6. Don’t Pump Yet

You may be tempted to start pumping the keg, but wait a second. Usually, there is enough pressure inside the keg that you do not have to pump the beer right away. Your first round of drinks requires minimal effort.

Of course, your first couple of glasses might be foam. Pour some of the beer and observe. Are there any bubbles? Do you see any liquid or foam escaping from around the valve? If you do, you will have to disengage the coupler and try setting it up again.

7. Pump When There is No Froth

After having poured a few beers without any foam, you will need to pump the keg to return the pressure. When pumping, it’s not about speed. You want to go slowly and steadily. Otherwise, you will add far too much pressure.

10-15 seconds is enough to ensure the keg is pressurized.

8. Pour Your Beer & Enjoy

Ensure everyone is holding their beer glass at 45 degrees when pouring the beer from the keg. As the glass fills, bring it vertical to keep any beer from spilling onto the ground. Remember to use only clean glasses when pouring beer so that you get an incredible glass every single time. Dirty glasses will disrupt the formation of the head.

Bonus Step: Untapping the Keg

Once you have consumed your fill of beer, it is a good idea to untap the keg to save any remaining contents from going flat. In order to untap the keg, you must first close the gas valve. That will keep CO2 from escaping through the coupler. Next, disengage the handle. You do this by lifting out then up. Turn the tap counterclockwise, releasing it from the coupler lugs.

Shoot, My Beer is Foamy! Help?

When it comes to pumping out beer for yourself or your friends and family, the last thing you want to do is race to the finish line. That is only going to get you glasses full of foam. In other words, avoid over pumping the beer. Doing so will increase the pressure inside the keg, causing the beer to foam up and froth. Wait a bit before you dispense more beer. If you want to keep the keg flowing (and your beer tasting better for longer), consider investing in a kegerator and CO2 pressurization system.

Conversely, your beer may be foaming because there isn’t enough pressure. If you do not pump the keg once in a while, the pressure is going to drop, leading to a separation of CO2 from your beer. Look to see how fast the beer is flowing. If it’s a meager trickle, you have under-pumped beer.

The other reason your kegged beer is coming out all frothy is that your beer is too warm. Though the time it takes for a keg to cool down and warm up depends on the size, starting temperature, and ambient temperature, you are going to want to keep cool for as long as possible. In other words, if you plan on using a large keg for a party, make sure you have it cooling for at least 24 hours before the start of the event. The longer your keg chills, the cooler it will stay.

Now You’re a Tap Master

Congratulations, you have mastered the art of tapping a keg the correct way. Now that you know how to tap a keg, you will be an indispensable friend at parties. Everyone is going to want to employ your expertise. Really, though, tapping a keg was probably easier than you thought, right?


How long should a keg sit before tapping?

A keg should be refrigerated and allowed to sit for at least 24 hours before tapping to ensure that the beer inside is at the ideal temperature and has had time to settle. This will help ensure that the beer is properly carbonated and that any sediment has settled to the bottom of the keg. If the keg is not allowed to sit for this amount of time, the first few glasses of beer may be overly foamy or cloudy.

How do you tap a keg so it doesn’t foam?

Here is how to tap a keg so you do not get any foam: Ensure that the keg has chilled long enough. Warm beer is foamy. Next, when pumping the keg, you do not want to pump too much or too little. About 10-15 seconds of slow, steady pumping is all you need.