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First time homebrewer in hopes of kegging

Hey all,

I just bought a basic bottling brew kit with a friend. We went with bottles first just so we can get brewing right away and to see if we would actually enjoy the process. We are starting a dead ringer IPA this Saturday and are bottling that batch.

I however would like to keg my beer in the very near future. My fiance’s father kegs his beer and I like the idea of minimizing all the bottling time and drinking my batch 1-3 days after the 2nd fermentation stage is over.

My ideal setup would be to build/buy a kegarator with 2 taps. I don’t necessarily need to start out with two taps but that’s where I plan to end up.

Looking at some kegs and kits it seems the 2.5 gal kegs are just as much as the 5 gallon so I may just go with 5 gallon kegs.

Has anyone had any experience building their own kegerator. Any cheap options or “best route” opinions? Looks like most mini-fridges are out of the question as a 5 gallon ball lock keg won’t fit inside them. I work from home and have a home office so I can easily put a fridge in there but would rather not get a full-size fridge.

Absolutely open to any suggestions on the kegging setup or even the Dead Ringer IPA!

Cheers,

Anthony

I used a chest freezer that I control with a Ranco digital thermostat. I built a bar around it and attached a piece of wood for the top and have a two tap tower coming out of it. Works very well and was very cheap. Plus, you can buy chest freezers in any size from 5CF to 14CF so you can decide how many kegs you want to put in there.

As far as kegs. Since you will likely be brewing 5 gal batches get 5 gal kegs. No reason to fool with two 2.5 gal kegs per batch unless room becomes a premium. In addition, if you go up to 10 gal batches you wont have to keg 4 of them.

I built a kegerator and this was my guide:

I know you said you didn’t want a full size fridge, so the above link may not be totally useful but hope it helps.

Check into condensation issues with keezers if you want to go that route.

I just finished mine. I found a floor model chest freezer at HD for $120+. It’s 7.7 cubic feet, room enough for 3 or 4 kegs. I have 3 taps. I bought some 1 X 4 Maple, spent some time/effort to make nice box joints and stained it. The most expensive thing about it will be the faucet/shank assemblies because you’re most definitely going to want those new, not used. And don’t skimp, buy Perlicks right from the start. Unfortunately our host sight does not have the best online prices. Shop around a little, see if you can find used kegs. Don’t buy a new CO2 tank. I have a thread on this forum with a couple pictures. It’s under “Draft Systems - Finished my Keezer… check it out!”

Good luck, and do lots of research, ask lots of questions, watch youtube videos.
:cheers:

I went exactly the route you went… 2 tap system. I’d love more, but live in a condo and am just glad my wife is cool with my having a kegerator in the dining room. Anyway, I bought a used single tap kegerator from a friend. Check craigslist to see if anyone is selling one. I bought a double tap tower, 4 kegs, new gas & beer lines, connections, etc and basically just converted the single tap to a double tap. IMO, buying used is the way to go. You could also find a used mini-fridge and convert it yourself. It’s not hard. You just need a few tools to cut a hole for the tower.

Again… buy used wherever possible. Mini-fridge, CO2 tank, kegs… all used. You should be able to put together a 2 tap system for about 1/2 the price of a new one.

Hey,

First off, you guys are amazing. Thanks a lot for the responses, it’s very much appreciated :cheers:

I work from home so I have my own office and could probably fit a full fridge in my current office. Though me and the fiance currently live in Chicago and are planning on moving around a bit so the next office might not be as large. Still I’m always open to looking into the full-size fridge.

It’s very helpful to know what should be bought new and what is okay to be bought used. Everyone loves taking the plastic wrap off a brand new toy but I love keeping monies in my pocket a little more these days.

In the meantime I’ve also looked into the mini-keg setup as well. 4 kegs to a batch with a single c02 converter. Not a shabby way to go in the meantime. Though I’m not sure if it’s worth it to just keep bottling for the next 6-7 months (wedding planning :wink: )

Dead Ringer has just been racked to the secondary and is smelling fantastic! Will update you guys if I have any more questions.

Thanks a lot again!

Cheers,

Anthony

[quote=“jtb”]I built a kegerator and this was my guide:

[/quote]
Wow…those are some seriously stained beer lines.

I vote you go for a full size fridge, then when you want to Lager you have enough room.

Nothing wrong with using 2.5gal kegs and that would work for what you want. If you decide to go bigger in future you cN still use the smaller kegs. Oddly I just bought two 2.5gal kegs for test batches. So there’s always that too in the future.

Really awesome idea; I haven’t even thought about Lagers for this exact reason.

As a follow up, we’ve moved in to a nicer but smaller apartment for now but a house is next up. I will be going for the full-size at that time too. In the meantime I’ve switched over to using fizzy drops to ferment so now I can carbonate: bottles, half-growlers, growlers and soon minikegs.

Cheers,

[quote=“anthonyterrell”]In the meantime I’ve also looked into the mini-keg setup as well. 4 kegs to a batch with a single c02 converter. Not a shabby way to go in the meantime. Though I’m not sure if it’s worth it to just keep bottling for the next 6-7 months (wedding planning :wink: )[/quote]It may not be clear from the mini-keg info but you are only dispensing the beer with the CO2, you still have to prime and allow a week or so for carbonation. My experience with mini-kegs is mixed - sometimes it worked great and other times the tap mechanism or the CO2 cartridge holder would malfunction and allow the CO2 to drain. It’s also really easy to over-prime and the pressure will deform the keg making it useless.

As an alternative, a really easy way to bottle and dispense is to use 2L PET bottles, I prefer the generic club soda bottles, and sugar prime. If you just open the bottle and drain, it’s sanitary, and they carb up nicely and hold the pressure for months. I find that I can open the bottle a couple of times before it begins to lose carbonation, just like with soda, so I pour two pints at first opening and then only open it once or twice more to finish.

Doing it this way saves a bunch of bottling time and you can get the kegging equipment together while you enjoy plenty of beer.

[quote=“Shadetree”][quote=“anthonyterrell”]In the meantime I’ve also looked into the mini-keg setup as well. 4 kegs to a batch with a single c02 converter. Not a shabby way to go in the meantime. Though I’m not sure if it’s worth it to just keep bottling for the next 6-7 months (wedding planning :wink: )[/quote]It may not be clear from the mini-keg info but you are only dispensing the beer with the CO2, you still have to prime and allow a week or so for carbonation. My experience with mini-kegs is mixed - sometimes it worked great and other times the tap mechanism or the CO2 cartridge holder would malfunction and allow the CO2 to drain. It’s also really easy to over-prime and the pressure will deform the keg making it useless.

As an alternative, a really easy way to bottle and dispense is to use 2L PET bottles, I prefer the generic club soda bottles, and sugar prime. If you just open the bottle and drain, it’s sanitary, and they carb up nicely and hold the pressure for months. I find that I can open the bottle a couple of times before it begins to lose carbonation, just like with soda, so I pour two pints at first opening and then only open it once or twice more to finish.

Doing it this way saves a bunch of bottling time and you can get the kegging equipment together while you enjoy plenty of beer.[/quote]

Wow this looks to be like an awesome route too. Definitely worth a try. I’m not hating on the non-keg route but I am absolutely looking to cut on the time and have various methods. Thanks for the recommendation!

Cheers

Check this video: http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2 … r-freezer/

Measure your kegs before you buy the lumber for the collar. I had to use wider lumber to allow space for a keg to sit on the compressor box. Real beer taps are great, but you can use picnic taps until you find or can budget for the real thing.

[quote=“anthonyterrell”]

Wow this looks to be like an awesome route too. Definitely worth a try. I’m not hating on the non-keg route but I am absolutely looking to cut on the time and have various methods. Thanks for the recommendation!

Cheers[/quote]

If you have the space and money for it, go for it. I wish I could keg but there is no room in my house for any more stuff, brewing or otherwise!

I built a 4 tap keezer that can hold 5 kegs. I believe it’s a 7 cu/ft chest freezer with a collar made from a 2x10. Love it.

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