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Keggerator shopping

Mostly window shopping now (hoping to talk the wife into this) but is there anything I should look for specifically or avoid when shopping for a keggerator? Good brands or bad brands? Also, can the draft towers be swapped out with minimal effort. For instance if I bought a single faucet and wanted to upgrade to a double later, or would I better off buying one with a double faucet to begin with?

Also what additional equipment would i need other than kegs and CO2? hoses and lines and regulators and all that stuff? I have no experience with kegging so this would be my first draft system. Looking for an estimated overall cost from soup to nuts.

Yes you can swap out towers pretty easily. I built mine two years ago. I purchased a used kegerator with a single tap tower from a friend for $75 (SCORE!). The wife bought a dual tap tower for me for christmas and I swapped it out in maybe 20min.

Beer lines, gas lines, kegs (buy at least 2 more than your kegerator will hold), CO2 tank, regulator, connections. All said and done, it cost me around $350 to put mine together, but I also found some good deals along the way.

It will come with the beverage lines for the number of faucets on the tower. Go ahead and get a two faucet one. Like dobe said, plan on an extra keg for each faucet you have.

Some fridges come with a CO2 tank. Keep an eye on craigslist, you might find one there. Or check with local welding/fire extinguisher shops to see what they might have. Sometimes they might have an odd ball size they want to unload.

For what it’s worth (my free “advice”), if you’re looking to buy new, just check for reviews on ones that will fit your visual/asthetic wants (unless you have a specific use-case…like wanting to keep it outdoors…see the recent thread on that, I have a model that’s built to weather the elements that I keep on my patio).

Any of them should come with everything you need.

At the end of the day, a kegerator is basically just a compact refrigerator with a hole drilled in the top to accommodate the beer lines and tower mount. The parts that make it a kegerator (tower, faucets, co2 and beer lines, keg couplers, co2 tank, etc) are all relatively inexpensive parts and at least some of them will need to be replaced on occasion due to regular wear and tear. The “big ticket” problem is if the compressor dies, which is the same for any refrigerator.

If you’re really looking for a brand recommendation - I’ve had mine for almost 3 years, it’s made by Summit. It hasn’t given me any trouble, but really none should within that amount of time. I was just recently at an appliance store to look at compact fridges (or “beverage centers”, as the manufacturers call them) that are designed to be built-in under a countertop, and none of the employees in the store had good things to say about Summit…but I don’t know if they can be trusted any more than my own 3 year experience with a summit product.

I love mine. Keeping the beer lines clean can feel like a chore at times, but it’s so nice to have beer on tap.

I guess that’s another question before I dive in. What type of maintenance is required? If I’m cleaning/tweaking/adjusting more than drinking it may not really be worth it. Is there some accepted standard schedule of cleaning/service.

Also, a couple pages I have read say that kegged beer usually only has a shelf life of a few weeks. Any truth to that? I doubt I can drink 5 gallons of beer in few weeks let alone 2 or more kegs. Sounds kinda hokey to me.

I guess that’s another question before I dive in. What type of maintenance is required? If I’m cleaning/tweaking/adjusting more than drinking it may not really be worth it. Is there some accepted standard schedule of cleaning/service.

Also, a couple pages I have read say that kegged beer usually only has a shelf life of a few weeks. Any truth to that? I doubt I can drink 5 gallons of beer in few weeks let alone 2 or more kegs. Sounds kinda hokey to me.[/quote]

The rule of thumb that I’ve always read is that you should clean your beer lines, faucet, and keg coupler once every 2 weeks or whenever a keg is changed (whichever comes first). Beer Stone (some kind of calcium buildup) will form in the lines when they are not regularly cleaned, and that will cause off-tastes and foaming when the beer is poured. The cleaning process takes me about 40 minutes total (most of which is letting the beer line cleaner soak). In practice, I clean mine closer to once every 4 weeks. Unless I’m having a party and the tap is getting regular use, I use a spray bottle to spray the inside of the faucet with water after I pour each beer…it keeps the last few drops from staying in there and turning into a nasty sticky/syrupy substance.

When you’ve got a keg tapped, the only time you should really need to tinker with CO2 pressure is if there is a change to the temperature of the beer in the keg.

As for the shelf-life of a keg (and I’m speaking about store-bought kegs here…not homebrew, because I haven’t gone there yet), the rule of thumb I’ve known is to finish it within 60 days. I’ve had some for longer than that (90+ days) and haven’t noticed much change in taste. Some breweries are also printing born-on dates on the keg caps now. Those are helpful to know how long it was sitting around before you got it.

That really just depends more on the type of beer in the keg, whether it’s a beer that ages well or does not. I don’t think it really matters whether the beer is in a keg or a bottle, as long as it is under CO2 and you’ve taken care not to oxidize or contaminate during your transfers it should last a long time. I’ve had beers, like barley wine and some lagers, sit in kegs for a good year that tasted great. Others like my summer brews taste much better for the first couple of months, but like I said that’s really beer recipe dependent as opposed to the keg dynamic. As for the cleaning question, I try to clean my lines each time I change a keg, sometimes I don’t and that hasn’t caused me any issues either. Once you get everything set up and balanced it should be pretty low maintenance.

I guess that’s another question before I dive in. What type of maintenance is required? If I’m cleaning/tweaking/adjusting more than drinking it may not really be worth it. Is there some accepted standard schedule of cleaning/service.

Also, a couple pages I have read say that kegged beer usually only has a shelf life of a few weeks. Any truth to that? I doubt I can drink 5 gallons of beer in few weeks let alone 2 or more kegs. Sounds kinda hokey to me.[/quote]

The rule of thumb that I’ve always read is that you should clean your beer lines, faucet, and keg coupler once every 2 weeks or whenever a keg is changed (whichever comes first). Beer Stone (some kind of calcium buildup) will form in the lines when they are not regularly cleaned, and that will cause off-tastes and foaming when the beer is poured. The cleaning process takes me about 40 minutes total (most of which is letting the beer line cleaner soak). In practice, I clean mine closer to once every 4 weeks. Unless I’m having a party and the tap is getting regular use, I use a spray bottle to spray the inside of the faucet with water after I pour each beer…it keeps the last few drops from staying in there and turning into a nasty sticky/syrupy substance.

When you’ve got a keg tapped, the only time you should really need to tinker with CO2 pressure is if there is a change to the temperature of the beer in the keg.

As for the shelf-life of a keg (and I’m speaking about store-bought kegs here…not homebrew, because I haven’t gone there yet), the rule of thumb I’ve known is to finish it within 60 days. I’ve had some for longer than that (90+ days) and haven’t noticed much change in taste. Some breweries are also printing born-on dates on the keg caps now. Those are helpful to know how long it was sitting around before you got it.[/quote]

Cleaning your lines, etc every 2 weeks is wildly excessive and unnecessary. Of course it can’t hurt and everyone does it different, but that just seems like a lot of work that isn’t needed. I push some oxyclean and then some starsan through every other keg or so. Then once a year I break down the whole system (lines, tap/tower parts, keg parts, etc) and soak everything in oxyclean overnight and replace the beer lines. This has worked well for me.

That’s good to hear. I was starting to worry that drinking tap beer would be come more of a chore than an enjoyment.

That’s good to hear. I was starting to worry that drinking tap beer would be come more of a chore than an enjoyment.[/quote]

So far I’m really happy with mine. I’m just running kegs with picnic taps now but will soon be upgrading to 3 faucets and adding a 2x6 collar. I’ll post some pictures when I’m done.

As far as a cleaning schedule, to each their own, but my experience has shown that starsan and/or oxyclean don’t remove beer stone from vinyl beer lines - only Beer Line Cleaner handles that job. And my lines, keg coupler, faucet, etc would be disgusting if I only gave them a thorough cleaning once a year. After 4 weeks there is usually a visible build-up of grime(bacteria) on my faucet shanks…that might not bother some people. but in my own experience it causes excessive foaming (which leads to wasted beer) and a noticeable bad taste.

Wow, some people really to crazy with this. I thoroughly clean my beer lines and taps once every 4-6 months. I do break down every keg that kicks and soak the parts before refilling it.

Homebrew on tap is the single greatest thing in brewing your own beer. Bottling is a PIA and I get enough of that just bottling the extra bottle or two that I have left over when transferring to kegs.

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