By Will Carroll
I see you at Costco. You look, but not directly. You see it out of the corner of your eye and you think “I could get that,” but then you think about your wife or girlfriend’s reaction. You wonder whether that kegerator is really for you.
It’s a big decision and one that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. While it’s great for parties, it’s another appliance and whether it goes in your kitchen or your home theater, it takes up space. It hums. It sucks some power. None of them look that good.
You’ll also have to maintain it. You’ll have to keep it clean and keep the CO2 charged up, which means finding a gas provider.
But there’s one thing that most people don’t think of. A keg of beer is pretty big. You not only have to pick it up, drive it home and carry it in, but that weight you just lugged (or more likely rolled – please, let it settle for a couple days so you don’t pull foam instead of beer) is a LOT of beer.
What most people call a keg is a half barrel. That’s about 110-120 pints of beer. If you want to do the math, it’s 124, but you’ll get some foam and wastage, so let’s just call it 110 to be easy. Even a “Corny Keg”, which is 1/6 of a barrel is about 40 pints.
While you’ll save money per pint, remember that it’s a lot of beer. A lot of that beer you picked. If you’re having friends over, it’s not so bad, but when it’s just you? If you’re used to picking up a six pack of something that looks good, imagine picking up twenty six packs of it.
One of my first kegs was Leinenkugel Summer Shandy. It’s a perfect light summer beer. I got it in late May, just after having it while sitting in Miller Park watching a game. By August, I was a bit tired of the Shandy and wondering just when the keg was going to run out. Granted, that was a half barrel. I learned my lesson.
Many local breweries will gladly sell you a keg if you make the decision to go that way. Smaller breweries and newer breweries tend to be the ones that hold back. They may not have the equipment and they may not have the stock. Even the bigger breweries aren’t always going to have what you want on hand. Thought you might pick up a keg of Sun King’s Grapefruit Jungle? Don’t count on it — but you can always ask.
That kegerator might look like a great addition to your — wait, I can’t even say Man Cave with a straight face. It’s the dumbest term of the last ten years and is a marketing excuse to get guys excited about interior design. A kegerator might be a good addition to your beer drinking ways, but there’s more to it than just having something on tap.
I’m detecting a trend. Belgian inspired beers have always been big in Indy, but I’m seeing more and more Saisons. Oaken Barrel in Greenwood has a nice one on tap, while Taxman from Bargersville is starting with a house Saison called La Maison. Both are a good starting point, light enough not to really task the tastebuds, but offering enough of the Belgian spice and yeasty flavor to let you know if this one’s for you. It might seem a bit early for a Saison, which is really a better summer beer, but we can dream.
Bon Appetit’s latest issue says sours or wild beers are the next big thing. Ok, I don’t need a magazine to tell me the next big thing and as usual, Indy’s already ahead of things in beer. There are several of these styles around town, including a new one to be tapped this week at Triton. Upland has done several of this style, as has Sun King. It’s a new taste and can be very varied from beer to beer, largely dependent on what’s growing in the beer. Yeah, really. You don’t have to be that adventurous to try them and they’re perfectly safe.
I had hoped to have my story about the start of Indy craft beer this week, but even with the help of Ted Miller, Kwang Casey and others, the story just isn’t there yet. It’s a bigger story with more depth and detail than I had expected, and the tale is worth telling. It’s coming but not as quickly as I thought.