There’s no feeling quite like pulling a fresh pint of beer directly from a tap. Bartenders would be the first to tell you that a high quality tap makes pouring a perfect beer that much easier. For homebrewers, there is a massive range of options and features, across all price points.
We’ll help break down what to look for in a beer tap and tell you our favorite taps for use in your home bar.
A beer tap, or beer faucet, is a spout through which beer is poured into your glass. It has a lever that when pulled opens a valve, releasing the deliciously cold and frothy beer. When you push the lever back, the beer flow stops.
If you’re a homebrewer new to kegging, you may be surprised at the array of choices when it comes to beer taps. With a host of options, across a wide range of prices and materials, choosing the right beer tap can be challenging.
A standard beer faucet is made of brass or chrome-plated brass. Completely stainless steel taps are becoming increasingly popular – and we couldn’t be happier. They’re a bit more expensive but are much more resistant to corrosion and a lot easier to keep clean.
Depending on your keg fridge, space restrictions, types of beer served, and budget, there are a few options you should consider.
Let’s first take a look at the best beer taps available. Then we’ll go over some of the jargon related to beer taps to make sure you can make the right choice for your home bar.
Best All Purpose Beer Tap
The gold standard in beer faucets for years, Perlick taps are well made, sanitary, and feel great to pour from. They’re forward sealing and very smooth operating. You will love pouring beer from a Perlick. The 630SS in stainless steel is our favorite beer faucet.
For even more flexibility, splurge for the flow control version. Even if it’s just one tap in your set, it’s nice to have for certain beer styles and when filling growlers.
Where to buy: MoreBeer
Best Budget Beer Tap
We highly recommend stainless steel taps, even for a budget option. The chrome-plated brass taps are cheaper, but aren’t worth the hassle. Stainless will last longer, won’t rust, and will ensure your beer is at its best. The Nukatap is an all-stainless, forward sealing faucet for a great price. If you’re not familiar with the brand, Nukatap is the next generation of Intertap beer taps.
Intertap had long been a staple as a budget friendly stainless steel forward sealing tap. Now, from the makers of Intertap, comes Nukatap. With a few adjustments including improvements that reduce foaming, the Nukatap is a great choice.
And just like the Intertap, the Nukatap has interchangeable spouts for specific beer styles and formats. You can easily switch between a stout faucet, a growler filler attachment, or the standard spout.
Where to buy: MoreBeer
Best Stout and Nitro Tap
For serving stouts and nitro-beers, the best beer tap is the Stainless Steel Nitro Tap Stout Faucet. The all-stainless design will keep this tap in great shape for years. Inside the vertical tap, a small restrictor plate helps promote the frothy and creamy foam everyone loves in nitro beers.
Even for non-nitro beers, this tap will help with a dense and decadent foam. If you brew a lot of stouts, you’ll definitely want this tap in your lineup.
Where to buy: MoreBeer
Best Speciality Tap
For a unique and fun tap for lagers, look no further than a Lukr side pull. Lukr are Czech specialists in tap and draft system design. Extremely well crafted, they feel great to pour beer into pint-sized glasses to get a pillowy, frothy head.
If you go for a Lukr, make sure to double check the shank dimension and related couplings. As Lukr is starting to gain more popularity, their catalogue is becoming more adaptable for different markets. Still, though, they remain a niche product for die-hard European lager-heads.
We love the Lukr side pull for styles like pilsners, dark lagers, kolsch, and altbier. The sweet, creamy, and dense foam from these taps is unmatched and makes these thirst-quenching styles that much better.
Where to buy: Lukr
Let’s go through some confusing – but important – terms in the beer faucet world.
Beer faucets can seal the beer flow either upstream (reverse) or downstream (forward) of the lever. Forward sealing taps protect the beer from oxygen exposure, also preventing bacterial growth. Reverse sealing can cause beer to dry inside the tap, creating a sticky pull and potential for bacterial growth.
We highly recommend forward sealing faucets. You’ll get better tasting beer, easier operation, and much better protection against contaminants.
If you’ve ever had Guiness on tap, you might be familiar with this type of tap. Guinness, like many other stouts and pub ales, is served “on nitro”. That means the beer has been infused with nitrogen and CO2, providing a beautifully lush, soft body and dense, creamy head.
In order to properly pour nitro beer, you need a special tap. Nitro taps are vertical in design, with a long and narrow spout. Inside the spout, a restrictor plate foams the beer to provide the rich and frothy head.
Even for non-nitro beers, this type of tap is great for typical CO2 stouts. The design will add an added frothiness to the body and head, coming close to a nitro-beer experience.
Popular for lager styles, especially Czech pilsner, side pull taps have a horizontally swiveling tap handle. This unique mechanism provides amazing flow control. Inside most side pull tap spouts, there are two or three micro-screens, creating a frothy, pillow-like foam.
With a spring loaded shaft, a self-closing beer faucet will stop the flow when the handle is released. This feature is great in a bar setting, where beer loss can be a problem. At the homebrew level, these types of faucets aren’t generally used. Most homebrewers wouldn’t dare leave a tap open to spill even a drop of their handcrafted beer.
A tap with flow control lets you fine tune the flow rate of the beer with a small valve on the side of the faucet. Most beer styles don’t require flow control, but it’s certainly nice to have for beers with higher carbonation. Being able to control the flow slows down the pour, helping to reduce foam on very bubbly beer like Belgian styles.
They’re also great for filling growlers and small taster glasses, to minimize foaming.
Along with a beer tap, you’ll come across a few other necessary accessories to be able to pour your beer. When buying everything for your beer dispensing needs, always be sure to check what’s included.
A beer shank connects the beer tap to the beer line. They’re cylindrical in shape and can be 1 to 6 inches long.
Longer shanks allow the beer to pass through a wall of insulation, like in a beer fridge or a kegerator, and connect with a tap. At the same time, the shank anchors the tap to ensure it’s stable when being poured.
The coupling nut secures the beer faucet to the shank. The shank and coupling are usually sold together.
A draft tower is a cylindrical column that extends vertically from a bar or keg fridge. Beer line runs through the tower and connects to the beer tap through a short shank. Draft towers usually have 1, 2, or 3 taps. They’re the best solution if you use a mini-fridge as a keg fridge, or if you want a pub-like feel at home.
Many homebrewers opt to build a kegerator – a retrofitted chest freezer – or make penetrations through the wall of a fridge to dispense their beer. In those cases, a beer tower isn’t necessary, just an adequately sized beer shank.
Most beer taps don’t come with a tap handle. The standard thread to install a handle – or lever – is ⅜”. Feel free to get creative when choosing or building your tap handle. They can make your home bar look amazing.
There are several great commercial examples available at homebrew and bar supply shops. Alternatively, many commercial breweries sell their branded tap handles that you can use at home for a taproom-like feel.
As you can see, there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to choosing the right beer taps. We highly recommend the Perlick 630SS stainless steel faucet. It’s classic, feels great to pour, and looks beautiful. The Nukatap is also a great option, and the flexibility of the various spouts is definitely a major selling point.
Whichever tap you choose, go for a completely stainless steel build. Your beer will taste better, keg after keg, and you won’t have to worry about rusting, corrosion, or contaminants.