Beer Fridges

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Many of us here at ATK live the suburban dream. 2-story houses, white pickett fences, 2.5 kids and a dog.

Well, okay. Maybe some of us are former-enlisted military guys with short fuses, barely-employed state workers, political wanks and the like. Our suburban "dream" is merely a facade that covers-up otherwise seething mental disorders, but that's why we drink beer.

And in order to add more pleasure to our collective drinking experience, many of us, in our suburban dream houses, wish to install some sort of beer delivery device, and what better way to do so than to occupy our idle, suburban hands with a little DIY project!First, fellow Marine and ATK newcomer Christian links to a guy who converted a normal 25 cu ft fridge into a 4-tap kegerator. Christian has a dream, people, and it is a 4-tap beer fridge. We like Christian here.

From kegworks.com, the definitive keg and keg conversion web site, check out their conversion kits. They have an outdoor keg and some tutorials on building your home bar.

If you are not a member at Beer Advocate.com, which I again assume all of our ATK contributors are, they have a whole forum specific to kegging and fridge-to-kegerator conversions using all matter of freezers and fridges: dorm-sized dealies, chest freezers, normal fridges and the like.

There are a gazillion more resources out there, including an article in Zymurgy magazine (which I could try to scan and add later to this post). Know some? Add 'em in the comments.

20 comments:

Bob 1:16 PM  

I built a bar a few years back with Oak panels and stained it a cherry. Unfortunately it was attached to my last house, so it went with it. I enjoyed making it though.

I see there is a section devoted to making the arm rests for bars. That is one of the toughest pieces to make or buy.

The coolest kegerator would send the beer up through the bar top just like a professional bar. That would be a fun project.

Smitty 1:19 PM  

The coolest kegerator would send the beer up through the bar top just like a professional bar. That would be a fun project.

That's what I hope to eventually do to mine.

Rickey Henderson 7:04 AM  

Awesome stuff. Rickey totally digs the retro fridge look you're going for in the picture you used for this article, but it's somewhat hard to find a nifty looking vintage fridge that still works.

Christian 9:05 AM  

I considering bringing the taps through my bar but didn't have the space to do so. I think running through the wall will have the same awesome effect and this keeps the fridge and guts hidden and in that rarely used space under the stairs.

Sopor 10:05 AM  

I've got a 3-tap Kegerator at home. It's not fancy, but it gets the job done! Two taps for homebrewed 5-gallon Corny Kegs, one tap for Sanke commcerical kegs. I can get 15-17.75 gallons of beer in there.

pic1

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Definitely a "form follows function" kind of deal... I'm not much on for making things look pretty.

I actually purchased this from my LHBS, it formerly belonged to Scott Isham, Brewmaster at Harper's in East Lansing.

Christian 12:58 PM  

I guess I have to sit down add up the expense of making such a 'fridge'. Two taps would be a nice way to start. Gotta start an inventory list.

Sopor 1:30 PM  

Last time I looked at what it would cost to set up my fridge, it was $300-400 for the equipment before the fridge.

Doing two taps might save you $50-75.

Sopor 1:32 PM  

Oh, by the way... A suggestion to anyone considering making a kegerator with taps coming out the side... Don't put the taps on the door, put them out through the side to the fridge!

the infamous roger 12:39 PM  

Be careful trying to put taps thru the side of the fridge-- there are coolant lines running right under the skin of the fridge! Hit one of those and your fridge is now an oversized paperweight.

Chest freezers make great kegerators., but you'll need to add a tower or build a collar that fits between the lid and the chest. You'll also need a temp controller to prevent your beer from freezing.

the infamous roger 1:00 PM  

Another suggestion that I have is that you use 1/4" flared fittings on the beverage and gas lines. This will enable you to switch between corny quick disconnects and sanke taps on the fly.

Here is a pic of the 1/4" flare fittings, AKA barbed swivel nuts. They make them with 1/4" barb (for bev lines) and 5/16" barbs (for gas). Northern Brewer Part Number K123 (liquid) and K163 (gas).

Here is a pic of corny keg QDs. See the threaded ones? Northern Brewer Part Number K010 (bev) K011 (gas)

Lastly, replace the barb tailpieces on your sanke tap with this flare tailpiece. Northern Brewer Part Number K027

Oh, and be sure to use thick walled 3/16" ID tubing for your bev lines. You can use less of this stuff to balance your draft system than with the 1/4" ID lines.

Christian 8:47 AM  

OK- this is getting complicated. Who wants to build my shopping list and help me assemble everything the day I get it all in? And if I go with the modified-fridge, I need some way of avoiding coolant lines apparently. Like a stud finder for coolant.

It's still all worth it in the end.

Bob 9:37 AM  

How about a system that uses a fridge in my Kitchen, but replaces the usual water and ice dispensers with two beer dispensers.

Now that would be cool.

Sopor 2:22 PM  

Roger is right... you have to be careful of the coolant lines in the side of the fridge. If you can make it around them, I think it's more convenient to have the taps on the side.

Christian... it may sound complicated now, but it's really not that bad! Roger's suggestion for the threaded connectors is good too, in fact I think I should re-do my fridge with those!

Of course... once you have the fridge, keeping everything clean is another issue!

Christian 7:50 AM  

I have to clean it to? Great. What next? I bet I have to pay to refill the kegs to, huh?

I wonder what Merry Maids charges to clean out the gear. ha

Smitty 8:33 AM  

You know, we hired Molly Maids to help us keep up with our house. Imagine my utter disappointment when they showed up in jeans and blue t-shirts instead of this. That's bullshit.

the infamous roger 8:54 PM  

I would go thru the door for a fridge kegerator, no question. If you really, really want to go thru the side, you can try spraying a solution of water and corn starch on the sides of the fridge. You will know where the lines are when the solution evaporates. BUT you might still hit a coolant line!

Going through the door is a no risk method. Just be sure to put the holes low enough that you can open the freezer door without knocking all of your faucet handles.

the infamous roger 8:57 PM  

I should note that I haven't yet retrofitted my kegerator for the flare fittings, but I haven't yet needed to put a sanke keg on draft at home. But now that I am brewing at bear republic, it may become an issue. A month into the new job I have home brewed 2 out of four weekends.

I'll see about taking some pics of my kegerator here soon and email 'em to smitty.

Smitty, how were the brews I shipped you?

Christian 8:30 AM  

Two things: If I drill through the front door, then I have to run tubing a bit farther to get it through the wall to where my bar is. I want the taps on the wall, not on the fridge door. Don't you want the tubes as short as possible? I can insulate them a little to, couldn't I?

And the second thing- Smitty, I am in love. That picture just fulfilled every fantasy of mine. Now I have to go clean myself up.

Sopor 8:58 AM  

Christian, tub length is actually a lot more complicated than you might think... having them as short as possible is actually not the way you want to go. Here's all the info you could ever dream of regarding balancing a draft system:

Draft System Line Balancing

This is some seriously useful stuff for anybody running a draft system. Check it out!

the infamous roger 7:35 PM  

You want a set-it-and-forget-it carbonation and serving setup. Decide what carbonation level you want for your beers, the temp you want your beer served at, and design the draft system around that. The carbonation/temp decision will determine the length of your beverage lines (remember that you would need less 3/16" ID line than 1/4" ID line).

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