I work from home, which means I don’t get any of those so-called office “perks,” aside from having a nine-second commute, exclusively wearing comfy mesh shorts all day, having a cat co-worker, starting happy hour at 4pm, and never being scared off by the acronym “NSFW.” Okay, I guess I have a few decent perks.
But one luxury I’ll never have is the surest sign you work at a hip company: an office kegerator. I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of drinking at work, but it’s changed over the decades. If the Don Drapers of the ’50s and ‘ 60s had sleek bar carts stocked with bottles of Cutty Sark and Canadian Club, today’s office superstars have access to fresh, tap beer.
I decided to hit up a variety of companies in a variety of fields in several major American cities to find out what is currently on tap in the office. Here’s what I found.
You won’t be surprised to learn the company that sells literally everything also has endless perks available for employees. Yes, of course Amazon corporate has a kegerator but, unfortunately, just like the website itself, employees are presented with a massive paradox of choice. Ty Rogers of Amazon corporate communications got back to me quickly, but couldn’t quite answer my questions because, “We’ve got more than 20,000 people in Seattle[‘s office], so we couldn’t just have one [kegerator] for everybody, and many teams do [have them].” Roger reports that having a kegerator, the beer selection, and the rules for getting sloshed vary team-by-team, though it’s not something they track. (Like we believe that! If you’ve ever done any drunken Amazon searches, you know they track everything—forever.) Rogers does tells me that, anecdotally, he sees lots of local Washington beers. (Photo: visitbellevuewashington.com)
Gavin Kelly had a goal to create an employee-friendly workplace when he and Rob Girling opened Artefact in 2006. Besides competitive pay and employee freedom, he thought a kegerator would be crucial. That choice was immediately so popular that Kelly “realized that we had blown through our monthly beer budget in about a week.” Artefact recently moved into a new studio and upgraded to a professional, double-beer–tap kegerator. The selection changes whenever it runs out, with new kegs provider by the company’s local beer expert, Chuck’s Hop Shop. Employees can grab a beer whenever they want, though most only do so during the weekly “Thirsty Thursday” office happy hour. (Photo courtesy Artefact)
Buzzfeed’s New York office needs all the buzz it can get to keep churning out those lists. I must admit being scared to even call them to ask about whether they have a kegerator—I figured with all their resources, by the time I hung up the phone, “23 Office Kegerators That Will Make You Want to Quit Your Current Job” would have already gone viral on their site. Luckily, my concerns were for naught, even if I would have totally clicked on that link. I also learned the buzz in Buzzfeed’s offices is coming from tap coffee—free and unlimited cold brew sourced from local roaster Irving Farm Coffee. Even if it ain’t beer, though, Christina DiRusso, senior communications manager, notes, “I can tell you, it is some serious stuff.” (Photo: irvingfarm.com)
When one of your major clients is a major brewery, well, let’s just say the office kegerator is going to be pouring something pretty damn tasty. Having just opened a new office in Chicago, PR firm DKC wanted its first keg to be celebratory. Luckily, that major brewery on the client list is Chicago’s Goose Island. And the brewery’s most celebratory beer is perhaps one named Sofie, a sparkling Belgian-style farmhouse ale that is wine barrel-aged with zested orange peel. That first keg might not last long, as employees are allowed to grab a pint whenever they feel like it. As managing director Molly Currey is fond of saying, “A good beer pairs well with hard work.” (Photo: gooseisland.com)
Location: Portland, OR
Industry: Online auction
Current beer(s): Stella Artois Cidre, BridgePort Hop Harvest IPA, Occidental Pils, Breakside Passionfruit Sour, Burnside Sweet Heat, Worthy Brewing Easy Day Kolsch, Boulder Shake Chocolate Porter
Rules for drinking it: Employees have access strictly during office happy hours
eBay’s Portland office kegerator is absolutely stocked—seven beer taps, one cider—for reasons two-fold: the prevalence of craft breweries in the Pacific Northwest, and an office primarily comprised of mobile engineers and developers who play a critical role in the company’s technology/product development. As Kari Ramirez, eBay’s North America communications manager explains, those types of folks need great beer to fuel their genius. Not only does the office go for mostly local beers, but it also often picks seasonal beers as well. (Notice the fresh-hop IPAs on tap during hop-harvest season.) (Photo: portlandbeer.org)
Facebook is such a behemoth that getting any sort of answers about company culture is not exactly easy. Luckily, I have a friend on the inside, a higher-up who actually has an office near Zuck’s. He (or she!) anonymously told me that “Facebook has a bunch of kegerators, by my estimate at least 50 scattered around the offices.” Most of the kegerators currently serve local California IPAs from breweries like Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, and Drake’s, but my insider notes, “I’ve also tasted some great lagers, ambers, and even an imperial stout of late.” As a bonus, there are also bars scattered around each floor serving hard liquor, heavily leaning toward big-brand bourbons and Scotches. As for the office drinking policy, employees can drink whenever they want, but most folks don’t get started before 4pm. (Photo: lagunitas.com)
The East Coast’s hippest tech company of course has a kegerator, one that it’s quite proud of. Located in the office kitchen dubbed Fat Denny’s Cafeteria—lovingly named after founder Dennis Crowley—the kegerator often has quite adventurous selections. This summer saw such offerings as Bell’s Oberon, Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, and the 7.2% ABV Hofbräu Maibock which had a “Be aware!” warning posted on its tap handle due to the higher-than-normal alcohol levels. Currently, Foursquare salutes a small local brewery in Staten Island’s Flagship. It’s perhaps not unexpected that one of the most vital locations-based techs would have a lot of check-ins surrounding its own keg too. It has a Twitter account that used to update what’s currently on tap, but has unfortunately become neglected. Their a slew of Untappds logged there. And can you check in at the keg itself? Of course you can. (Photo: bellsbeer.com)
McGarryBowen is New York’s largest independent ad agency, with such prominent clients as Marriott, Kraft Foods, Inbev, and Burger King. It also has “Guzzle,” its beloved office kegerator bolstered by a creative technology team actively building an app that will allow employees to vote on future keg selections. Until then, Anna Edward, a human resources assistant, is in charge of beer selection. Near Guzzle, a little poster hangs with the office beer rules: “‘It’s 5 o’clock somewhere’ doesn’t apply. Please wait until 5 PM to have a beer.” Pitches to big-time clients and pitchers of tap beer—sounds like office bliss. (Photo: discoverpacifico.com)
I figured if anyone was certain to have an office kegerator, it would be those ambitious slackers at Reddit. They did, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. Amazingly, my cold email to firstname.lastname@example.org was responded to in under an hour by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. He told me that, indeed the Reddit offices had kegerators! But not ones full of beer—draught iced coffee is the drink of choice. Now I know how so much work is getting done; that stuff is potent! Have an upvote, Alexis. (Photo: stumptowncoffee.com)
Location: New York, NY
Industry: Social media
Current beer: Joyride Coffee Distributors
Rules for drinking it: Employees’ discretion
Twitter is another company to go the no-ABV route in the office kegerator. Last summer, the NY Post reported on the rising success of Queens-based company Joyride Coffee Distributors, who work with roasters such as Stumptown, Blue Bottle, Sightglass, Four Barrel, and Equator. Joyride not only delivers beans but also five-gallon kegs of concentrated cold-brew coffee to hip companies such as Twitter. Gilt has a Joyride kegerator, as does Uber and video-game maker Zynga. Turns out the first to be installed in the city was at Gawker Media. (Photo: joyridecoffeedistributors.com)
Location: New York, NY
Industry: Online reviews
Current beer: Köstritzer Schwarzbier, Otter Creek Over Easy, Westbrook One Claw, Ninkasi Quantum
Rules for drinking it: Employees are not allowed to drink while working and moderation is explicitly encouraged
At one time Yelp had what was probably the most high-tech office kegerator around. Designed at a Hackathon in 2010 by four Yelp engineers, KegMate was controlled by a mounted iPad which listed everything from what was on tap, to how much of it was left, to what temperature it was being poured at. That machine was scrapped. Fortunately, a lot more beer is now available, as NYC facilities manager Don Bromm regularly switches up the beer selection in order to highlight some of the best smaller craft brews in the country. As Yelp PR specialist Kayleigh Winslow told me, “Since Yelp is all about connecting people with great local businesses, we try to draw attention to local brewery up-and-comers as much as possible.” (Photo: ottercreekbrewing.com)
Aaron Goldfarb (@aarongoldfarb) is the author of How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide, The Guide for a Single Man, and The Guide for a Single Woman.