DRAFT BEER AND WINE REFRIGERATION FOR YOUR HOME BAR
Refrigeration is one of the most important components of your Home Bar. There are many types of bar refrigeration: Wine Refrigerators, Draft Beer Refrigerators, Kegerators, Beverage Centers, and Ice Makers. The types of refrigeration you incorporate sinto your bar will be based on the amount of room you have and the types of beverages you enjoy. You can also use a single piece of refrigeration like a back bar refrigerator to handle beer, wine, and soda. You must also consider if you are going to build your units into the counter or under the bar. If you choose to do so you need to make sure the compressor vents to the front, or that the unit is labeled as being able to be built in. If not, the hot air given off by the compressor has nowhere to vent to and ends up burning out the compressor motor. Once this happens the compressor is shot, and for all intent and purpose so is your refrigerator.
One major piece of advice... get all the refrigeration, sinks and larger items that need to be installed BEFORE you begin building the bar! More on this in Building your Home Bar.
There are many different styles and sizes of wine refrigerators or wine chillers based on how many bottles of wine you are looking to chill and what the color they are. The smaller wine chillers hold around 16 bottles all the way up to the large wine refrigerators that hold over 100 bottles. Many of the models available are small enough to fit on the back bar or counter top. You should determine which type of wine refrigerator to buy based on the type of wine you drink the most of. Use this wine temperature chart to help you with your decision.
Installing your own draft beer system or kegerator is not as hard as you think and it is far easier to add a system as you are planning your bar rather than as an after thought. Keep in mind that draft (keg) beer must be kept cold at all times otherwise the beer gets foamy and you need to pour off quite a bit of foam before you get a good mug or pint full. For this reason it is not a good idea to try to run your beer from a refrigerator on one side of the bar to a tap or tower on the other side. The systems that your local bar uses where they store the beer in the basement and run it up to bar was custom designed and cost thousands of dollars.
Don't worry, there are still several ways you can pour draft beer at your home bar without breaking the bank. One of these options is a single keg fridge that is designed to be built into a bar or cabinet system. These would have the beer tower (faucets) sitting on your bar top with the fridge located directly underneath. There are several options when it comes to this. We now have under the counter keg refrigerators available that can be built into the front or back bar. Under the Counter keg refrigerators are easy to install and can later be pulled out and used as a stand alone unit if the need arises. Most people build these units into their back bar but they can be placed on the front bar as well.
Another option is use a stand alone draft beer refrigerator and set it to the side of the bar, or build the back bar narrower than the front bar so the kegerator will fit in nicely to the side but won't be part of the bar or cabinetry system. Unless you are going for a commercial grade unit you can usually save a few hundred dollars by using a stand-alone keg refrigerator.
Another popular method for serving draft beer in your home by taking an old refrigerator, like the kind you have in your kitchen, and converting it into a kegerator. Many people will position the fridge so it is out of the way, some people choose to decorate it and make it the center of the bar. Whichever way you choose to display it you will want to make sure you have a drip tray to catch the excess foam so it doesn't spill onto your floor.
If you are planning on serving can or bottled beer, wine, malt beverages, soda and/or juice you will probably want to consider a Beverage Center. Beverage Centers come in various sizes and can generally be built into the cabinet system of your back bar. Most of these units come with a glass door so you can display what you have available for your guests.
This is one item that most people never really think about. Running up the stairs constantly to fill the ice bucket is no fun. They now make small portable and under counter ice makers. Some don't even require a drain line. If you buy a lot of bagged ice, one of these machines will pay for itself.