New to kegging

I’ve returned to homebrewing after a long absence. With a few brews under my belt, I’m considering kegging. However, I’m a little intimidated by the process. I’m particularly concerned about where to put the keg when filled. I presume that if I was having a party, I could just put the keg on ice and encourage the guests to drain it. However, the idea of having a few beers on draft all the time is appealing. I see that many of you build keezers or refurbish old fridges to store the kegs, but I’m afraid that taking on either of these projects is outside my abilities–I have neither the tools nor the skills to do either. Are these my only options? Do I need to learn some basic carpentry or are there any ready-made solutions out there that won’t break the bank. Thanks.

I keep my kegs in an old fridge. I open up the door to pour a brew.

Shop your local Craigslist…

I selected “for sale” and searched “kegs”…

Depends on your definition of “break the bank”…There are some items for salewith everything you would need! ... k=&maxAsk=

Kegging, even at a basic level, has some costs. These can be lowered by trading time, stubbed thumbs, and a likely a few choice swear words for money.

I started doing it because I wanted to bring a keg to a weekend-long party, and I needed to turn the beer around quickly. We live in a small place in the city, but I do have a 5’ basement where I keep a bunch of stuff (including brew stuff, including a 7cu’ chest freezer, which I had previously only used for controlling fermentation temps).

My stuff:

  • 7cu’ Chest Freezer: $50 on Craigs List
  • Johnson Temp Controller (pre-wired, I’m lazy): $80
  • 2 reconditioned corny kegs: $100 ($50 each with my AHA discount)
  • CO2 tank: traded my buddy for one in exchange for an extra carboy I had, but they START around $75 I think
  • Regulator: same, though these run $50-75 for a basic one
  • quick connects, hosing, picnic tap: ~$30-40ish
  • Blichmann Beer Gun and accessories (allows you to bottle from keg without losing carb - there are DIY options that are WAY cheaper): $125

So, basic basic basic setup: $420 (without the beer gun) unless you can get some stuff free.

I consider my ‘kegging’ setup the most basic one you can have. I basically will crash cool a beer (in the fridge), rack to a keg, carb, and dispense it out of a picnic tap as long as I don’t need my fridge for a ferm chamber, as I won’t brew if I can’t fully control ferment temps. If I need the fridge and there’s a carbed full keg in there, I will use my Blichmann beer gun and bottle the contents of the keg to make room (and change the use of the fridge).

So I haven’t had to build any collars, balance any lines, drill through any fridges, or anything like that (yet). But bear in mind my setup could be considered a gargantuan pain in the @$$. However until we move into a bigger place, I just really don’t have a place where I could practically place a kegerator (even one that I build).

You need to have a way to keep your beer (in the keg) cold (besides ice) in order to carbonate it. This translates into a dedicated fridge (at least one, like I have). One fridge and only one, however, can seriously gum up your brewing pipeline.

In order to have a tap-dispensing set up, you need to have some knowledge (or desire to acquire the knowledge), and some additional equipment than I have.

I think pre-built kegerators on our sponsor and on kegworks, etc. start around $600.

For a guy who is not at all mechanically inclined, kegging was a bit intimidating for me as well at first. But my desire for fresh draft beer outweighed any hesitation.

If you intend to run lines to a tower on a bar (like I do) I would recomend going chest freezer. If not, a fridge may be more your speed if you are not big on handywork. Though if you just want to pour from a thumb tap, either is fine.

Using a 7-8 cubic food freezer will get you enough room for 3-4 kegs, plus maybe a 5lb tank if you want to keep it with the kegs.

I really take the lazy man’s route with my freezer. No wholes drilled or anything. I just run the lines under the closed lid. If you find the right spot it really does not pinch the line enough to make a difference, and any cool air lost through the gap is minimal. I would usually unhook the lines at the end of the night and close the lid all proper like.

I’ve been meaning to drill some wholes in the freezer to do it the correct way, but it just does not seem to get done.

+1 Use the foam free picnic tap that our host sells, It works great.

Thanks to all. i don’t know why it never occured to me that a commercial kegerator would work–I guess I just read all the posts about people building their own and assumed it was out of necessity. Looks like I have a few options once I commit to the kegging process.

A commercial kegerator would be pretty sweet if you casn afford it for sure. And pretty much the easiest way to go as well.

2 major incentives to think about:

  1. No more bottling. One of the more time consuming things involved in beer making becomes one of the quickest and easiest.

  2. No more empties lying around, no more rinsing yeast out of bottles etc etc.

I doubt anyone has ever regretted making the jump, except that they should have done it sooner.

+1 Use the foam free picnic tap that our host sells, It works great.[/quote]

+1 I have a fridge in the basement that I use. Traded for the fridge so it technically did not cost me anything. I opened the door and used the picnic tap until my wife got me a tap and tap handle for Christmas this past year and I drilled a hole in the fridge and mounted the tap. I now have two taps on the fridge, two kegs in the fridge so I have a pale ale and stout on tap at all times.