My kegerator is in my insulated, but unheated garage, which is convenient since I love to be outside. I live in Wisconsin. Are there any ways to keep my taps and attached beverage lines from freezing during the winter?
De Pere, Wisconsin
The problem here is pretty obvious. You have your kegerator located in your insulated, but chilly garage and during the nasty winters you have in sunny Wisconsin the temperature dips below freezing. And from what I have noticed about winter weather patterns in Wisconsin, you may have sustained freezing temperatures that bring the average temperature of your garage below freezing, meaning that the inside of your kegerator will also dip below freezing. This is clearly a problem, not just for the beer lines, but for the keg itself.
This situation is not unique to kegerators and people who have refrigerators in their garages run into similar challenges. The short answer to the question is that you need to put a heater in your kegerator to prevent freezing in the winter. Perhaps not the greenest suggestion to make in the environmentally sensitive world we live in, but a viable option. In fact, this probably uses less energy than simply moving your kegerator indoors since the difference in temperature between the ambient Wisconsin winter and the desired temperature of the kegerator is probably less in the garage than it would be if the kegerator were inside your home. The heater can be as simple as a light bulb or heat lamp controlled by a thermostat in the kegerator set to a temperature greater than the freezing point of your beer. Most beer freezes somewhere around 28 °F (-2 °C).
This may keep the beer in the keg from freezing, but your beer lines going to the tap still may freeze. The easiest way to solve this problem is to drain the beer from the draft line after use. If you drink beer from your keg on a regular basis this could become a pain in the neck and also lead to considerable beer waste. If your heater puts out enough heat you may be able to insulate the beer tower, but I wouldn’t hold out too much hope since the beer tap itself is a big heat-sink and will probably freeze if it is exposed to the cold. Another option is to use a cobra head tap like those used at keg parties so that the keg, draft line and tap are all contained in the kegerator. Although you lose the convenience and style of a tap tower, you do have a system that is entirely contained in your heated kegerator.