Office culture is changing, and just as piercings and tattoos are becoming more acceptable in the workplace, drinking beer is no longer completely taboo.
Coworkers can now drink and socialize in their Knoxville offices thanks to a new rental and leasing service for kegerators, refrigeration devices that keep keg beer cold and can easily be placed in a break room or pool party.
The mastermind behind this beer drinking business is none other than Zach Roskop, perhaps Knoxville’s biggest proponent of sharing craft beer culture. He’s the founder of Knox Brew Tours, owner of Knox Brew Hub, and past president of the Knoxville Area Brewers Association (and he doesn’t even own a brewery).
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Kegerator keeps beer fresh at parties
Before embarking on this venture, Roskop polled friends who have offices around the city to see if they ever considered beer in the workplace. While some toyed with the idea, no one wanted to buy a support system or pay someone to pick up beer.
“I started thinking about how there are a lot of offices downtown and there are a lot of businesses that want to be competitive when it comes to young talent,” Roskop said. “One trend you’re seeing in bigger cities is offices that will close at 4 on a Friday and have a staff happy hour, or they’ll have beer in the office because beer is becoming more acceptable.”
To fully understand what a kegerator is, Roskop said, it’s important to understand what it isn’t.
Clear your mind of hand-pumped beer and upside-down keg racks. Kegerators are more professional, designed to store beer and keep it cold—no melted ice, no trash cans (remember your college days, right?).
Instead of using “ambient air,” Roskop said, kegerators contain a CO2 tank and have room for a towering faucet system on top — just like the faucet handles you see in bars.
“It just turns on,” he said. “So you have fresh, crisp, non-perishable, cold beer forever until that keg bursts… And you can rent it for your party. We’ll drop her off and in eight hours I’ll pick him up. Maybe you’ll rent a cabin in Gatlinburg for an entire weekend—we’ll drop it off Friday, pick it up Sunday.”
These scenarios represent the rental side of the business that will set up a kegerator for customers on a short-term basis. Then there’s the leasing side, which operates on a month-to-month basis and is the perfect option for bosses who want to make keg beer part of the company culture.
Making beer part of the company culture
For between roughly $89 and $129 per month (Roskop is still setting prices), businesses can rent a kegerator for the office. This price includes free keg delivery and Roskop will clean the beer lines every time they deliver.
“I’ll tell you the three office spaces that I’ve talked to so far that are very positive — one is an architecture firm, one is a marketing firm, and one is a media company,” Roskop said. “All creative types. I don’t see an accounting firm being that interested in a kegerator, but I could be wrong.”
Of course, companies will also have to buy kegs of beer through Roskop, which will insist on selecting products that are locally produced. Renting a kegerator also requires a refundable deposit and an initial setup fee.
“We are obsessed, in love and completely sold out on local beer,” he said. “But beyond that, we’re committed to making it available to everyone in every environment and delivering it to them in the best possible way. … And we want to use existing technology to do that.”
Other ways to share beer
Roskop is exploring options to refill office fridges with beer, as employees may want to offer an out-of-the-box beverage to customers when they visit. He’s also considering delivering cases of beer to tailgates on University of Tennessee football game days.
“I mean, it’s like the goddamn Santa Claus of beer,” he said.
These ideas are still being developed, but as far as tailgates go, kegerators are always an option as long as there is access to power.
Kegerators can allow two six-body kegs to be tapped at the same time. These kegs can have the same beer to ensure there is always a backup or different flavors for more variety.
All of these options are available thanks to the loosening of state liquor laws in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, beer could not be delivered directly to the consumer.
“My dream and my hope is that I’d like to have 10, 12, 15 offices downtown that all rent kegerators from us — they all buy these kegs from us that we already have the infrastructure for,” Roskop said. “One of the things I like about beer is that it’s humble, but it’s not simple.
“But that humility, that blue-collar thing, makes him … less threatening in a professional environment. It’s the lower percentage of alcohol and it’s become part of our everyday culture.”
Roskop currently has a handful of kegerators and plans to spend the next few weeks working out the kegs with one customer before fully launching the business.
Visit knoxbrewhub.com/rentals for more information and for launch updates.