Recently I was asked, “what size should I make my walk-in beer cooler?” To give some context, the cooler will be for a taproom with a 5 bbl (155 gallon) brewery where the space available for rent is quite pricey. Instead of rattling off an educated guess on average square footage, I asked a lot of questions:

How many beers on draft? Will other beverages be on draft? How many total?

  • Of course, each beer on tap requires its own space and some beers will move faster so more backups will be needed. Using a bright tank for faster moving beers will help eliminate some waste and reduce labor by not having to clean, fill, and switch kegs.

Will the draught system be direct draw or remote dispense?

  • Direct draw systems have short lines running directly from the keg, through the cooler wall and out of the beer faucet, making them easy to replace, but taking up space on the wall. Remote dispense systems require liquid management systems such as beer FOBs, which are mounted to the cooler wall.

How much beer do you think you will sell?

  • How many seats, operating hours, location, and comparable sales in the area should help answer this.

Will the beer mostly reside in serving tanks or kegs?

  • Bright tanks take up the same amount of space whether they are empty or full. Stacking kegs takes up a bit more space and they are not easily moved. Use safe storage practices so kegs don’t tip over and are accessible for safe lifting practices (more space!).

Will you store beer to age? If so, will it be in bottles, kegs, or both? What else will stored in the cooler?

  • Bottles are easily damaged and storing them at the top of the cooler may expose them to warmer temperatures during defrost cycles depending on the design of your cooler.
  • Ingredients such as hops and any other perishable products used for beer production will need a home. I recommend avoiding storing food in the same cooler, if possible, as it has the potential to impact beer quality and potentially bring the health department into your beer cooler.


Suggested Resources