I bottled beer for years. I never minded it, it was almost a zen like procedure. I would listen to music, zone out and within an hour I would have 50+ bottles of delicious beer to stow away. When getting bottles from Kinzua Dam Beer Company, the owner, Bill Cole, asked me if I wanted to buy any cornie kegs. I told him I wasn’t to that point and declined. After that, I couldn’t get kegs out of my head. It was near my 30th birthday and I decided I was to build a kegerator for myself to celebrate. One tap is never is enough, and neither is two or three. It had to be four taps.
I did my research, bought some equipment and put together this beauty. It was a very simple build and for under $1000. Here I will share with you my process and hopefully pass on some useful knowledge!
Step 1 – Buying the kegging equipment
There is a lot of equipment that goes into kegging. You can probably piece things out and get a good deal but I decided that I would buy a kit. Keg Connection is who I bought from. They have customizable kits from 1 to 5 taps. The 4 faucet pin lock premium fridge kit with an upgraded CO2 regulator, distributor and upgraded perlick faucets is what I decided to buy. I was able to buy a 5lb CO2 tank from a cousin so I didn’t need to buy one new.
Step 2 – Sizing up and choosing a chest freezer
There are a lot of used chest freezers for sale out there, and for good prices too. I decided to go with a new one. If I was to sink money and time into this project, I wanted it done right. To determine how big it needed to be, I traced the bottom of my cornie kegs and cut out cardboard circles. I took them to Lowes with me and found that a GE 7 cu ft freezer would fit three kegs on the floor and one on the compressor hump along with a CO2 tank. For about $200, I felt it was a good deal.
Step 3 – We need some wheels
I decided it would be worthwhile to have the keezer on wheels. That way I could move it and even take it to parties (I have and it’s always a huge hit!) I built a wooden frame with casters on it to give it some wheels.
Step 4 – Adding the collar
As I said, to fit a fourth keg in the keezer, I needed one to be sitting on the compressor hump. With it sitting there, it is too tall and the lid will not shut. The solution is to make a wooden collar. With my freezer, I believe that I needed six inches of height so I used a 1×8 board for the job. A collar will not only add height to the keezer, it will also give us a nice safe place to drill holes for the taps to come out. I would worry about hitting some coolant line or something drilling through the freezer wall.
Step 5 – Install your kegging equipment and temperature control
With a kit from Keg Connection, everything was very straight forward on how to install and setup the equipment. In addition to this, I added foam insulation board to the insides of the collar to help hold temperature. The CO2 distributor is mounted to the back inner collar wall to keep it out of the way. The temperature controller was mounted to the outside wall of the collar with the probe taped to the freezer inside wall.
Tips I’ve learned through having the keezer:
- Use a small silica gel dehumidifier inside your keezer. The on/off cycle of the freezer will make moisture that needs to be gotten rid of before you get mold.
- Twist ties are a great way to handle your tubing.
- It’s a good idea to label each disconnect, both liquid and CO2, so you don’t have to trace the tube back to see where it is attaching, with a piece of marked masking tape.
- The temperature controller probe will work well if put in a glass of water, simulating the temperature of the beer in a keg instead of just the ambient temperature.
- Add a bottle opener and a handle to the front of the collar.
- Drip trays are really expensive for some reason. I opted to use a mud tray from Lowes and seal it shut with silicone caulking. It is attached to the front of the keezer with magnets. (The bottle cap catcher is also attached with magnets.)
- Buying extra kegs is a great way to keep a good rotation. When a keg is full, but there isn’t room in the keezer, you can prime it with sugar like you would bottling beer. That way, when a spot opens up, it is already carbonated.
- A 5 lb CO2 tank will prime and serve roughly 6 kegs of beer.
- Don’t forget about cleaning your keezer every once and awhile. A few drops of beer here and there will turn to mold quickly.
- Rubber faucet caps will keep fruit flies or any other insects from getting into your taps.
- It is often easier to have longer beer lines than it is to balance the keg pressure. A longer line will give you less foam. Keg kits come with 5 feet of beverage line but it would not be a bad idea to up each line to 7 feet.
- Be prepared to buy stuff related to keg maintenance including extra O ring’s a keg lube.
I hope you enjoyed this installment of “How To…”