How to Install draft beer into your VW bus

I’m to the point now with my 1975 Riviera with a late (1976) Westfalia interior that I’m ready to dream up projects that are not of the utmost urgency to the drivability of the vehicle. Of course, there are always systems to be maintained, but I’m ready to have some real modification fun. This summer I tackled such a project and installed a homebrewed beer draft system. It’s the perfect marriage of my two favorite hobbies: Volkswagens and brewing homebrew.

Given that this is a family vacation get-away vehicle and I didn’t really want to have to explain myself to non-approving critics, it was a major goal of mine to make the draft system as inconspicuous as possible.

In fact here it is:

I can serve both water and cold homebrewed beer out of the stock Westy sink faucet.
It’s done by using a 3-way ball valve at the faucet so if the handle is turned CCW, beer will flow. If the handle is turned CW, water flows. There is one fairly short common line going from the ball valve to the faucet and it just takes a second to clear.

See; that’s an Imperial Stout brewed with cold-press coffee and cocoa chocolate nibs:

I’ve widened the spare-tire cabinet by a couple of inches which allowed me to fit two 5-gallon stainless steel Cornelius kegs. These “Corny” kegs used to be used by the soda industry but homebrewers have adopted them as the vessel of choice for kegging purposes. One of the two kegs is for water and the other is for homebrew. I’ve removed the stock 7-gallon water tank.
A beverage tube, or line, goes from the water keg directly to the 3-way ball valve/faucet. Another beverage line, which I’ve insulated, goes from the beer keg and runs along behind the sink cabinet and then into the icebox. In the icebox it runs through 50-feet of stainless steel coil which is cold from ice and then through an insulated line to the 3-way ball valve/faucet.

The liquid is pushed pneumatically, that is to say via pressure. I’ve installed a keg pump which fits just perfectly through the hole where the water-fill tube used to be in the original water system. The keg pump provides air to the water tank, and to a gas distributor which I’ve reversed to allow air or CO2 to push the beer. Beer prefers and inert gas such as C02 otherwise it gets stale quickly. The C02 comes from a hand-held dispenser with a fitting attached to a gas line. It uses those small BB-gun cartages. So I’ve engineered the beer keg to get either CO2 or air in case I use all of the CO2 cartages while camping but might still have time and beer to kill.

Here is what it looks like inside:

Underneath the sink, the 3-way ball valve:

Above the sink, the handle and faucet:

The spare tire cabinet/keg disconnects:

The icebox/stainless steel coil.

The water/beer keg air pump, and yes, that IS a Bay Window shifter knob:

The beer CO2 dispenser:

The beer CO2/Air distributor:

The system is great and discreet but wasn’t perfect. Getting a beer meant opening the slider door each time and disturbing my sleeping children. So I had a stainless steel box fabricated to fit nicely in the sink drain vent hole on the outside of the bus. Inside that box I had Corny keg threads welded so I could attach beer-out and CO2-in fittings which allows me to snap on a beer tapper and gas.

Here are some pics of the box:

The schematic on the whole system:

Most of the stuff needed for this modification can be bought at your well-stocked homebrew supply shop. The 3-way ball valve I found at McMaster Carr. And the stainless steel box I had fabricated by a friend using Corny keg threads salvaged from a destroyed keg.

I hope that you found my homebrew draft system to be well thought out. Cheers!

That is brilliant! Should be good for an overnnighter at least!

You should find a way to get that VW on the show “American Pickers”. One of them is a huge VW freak. Bet they’d invent a reason to see it on their show.

Beer…the mother of invention. That is outstanding. If you went to a tail-gater, you would have the whole parking lot of folks hanging around. The tap out the side is the mutts nuts. Do you pre-chill your kegs, then insulate them to make the ice last the whole weekend?

I despise VW with every fiber of my being, but that is wicked awesome! you should win an award in awesomeness!

My bus made the Mar/Apr issue of Brew Your Own

Yeah I saw that. I couldn’t remember when I had seen it the first time but now I know. Congrats!

Just when I thought that couldn’t get any more amazing you attached taps to the outside of the bus! If there was an amazing slow clapping smiley I would post that, instead you get this :cheers:

I saw this type of setup on Moonshiners recently. Nice work.

This is the greatest thing, I have ever seen…

The tap handle mounted on the side of your bus made me smile. :smiley:

Amazing work. How do you drain the ice box?

You are my hero.

Get a glass under that faucet, though. Beer’s going down the drain!

dude…you rock!

This makes me very happy. When I got to the sink drain vent hole modification… well, you got me.