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Low Cost Kegerator How-To

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#1 MtnBrewer


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Posted 05 April 2009 - 09:32 AM

Building a Low Cost KegoratorSoon after you start brewing your own beer, someone will mention to you the joys of kegging. You start thinking about it….no more cleaning and sanitizing 50 bottles for every batch….beer on tap like at the bar….faster carbonation….what’s not to like? So you decide to buck up and start kegging….but what do you need? That all depends. In the text below, I’ll try to give you a few options for equipment, based on the most common choices.Budget KegoratorQuite often I’m asked by someone, “what do I need for a kegorator at a minimum?” If you’re on a budget, or can’t drill holes in anything at this point, what you should consider is using picnic taps. This is a nice option since the basics are the same. You can always upgrade to “real” taps later. Here’s what you need to get started:Refrigeration - You’ll need a refrigerator or freezer of some sort to keep the beer cold. Some considerations:
    [*]Size/Space – the number of taps you want and how many kegs you want to hold are key here, but how much space you have is also important. There are small dorm like refrigerators that work great for 1-2 kegs, but you can get a small chest freezer that will easily hold 4 kegs.[*]Strong Back – for chest freezers, you have to lift full kegs up and into the freezer. This is a lot simpler with a refrigerator.[*]Tower or Shanks – You can either get a 1-4 tap tower or puchases shanks that fit through the front of the frig/freezer. Towers are considerably more expensive.[*]Temperature Control – when using a freezer, you will have the added expense of a temperature control unit ($50-60).[*]Cost – sometimes you can get one or the other for free, and that can have a large impact on your decision. I will mention here that you can generally find either in the local paper for less than $100.[/list]CO2 tank - No matter what type of kegorator or tap system you come up with, you will need CO2 to push the beer through the taps. You don’t necessarily have to use it to carbonate (you can still use corn sugar or DME if you like), but you’ve got to move the beer to the tap. Nitro is another option, but this is more expensive across the board, so usually keggers start with CO2 and then add a nitro line later if they so desire.CO2 Regulator - The regulator tells you two important things….how much CO2 you have and at what pressure you are pushing CO2 thru your lines.Beer line - Typically, you use the same line for your CO2 and your beer. You need about 9-10 feet per tap (figure 5-6ft for the liquid line and then whatever you need to get it to your CO2 tank). Consider buying a complete roll of line, especially if you plan to have 3-4 taps. It’s a lot cheaper in bulk and you’ll want to change out your line occasionally.Disconnects - You will need one gas connect and one liquid connect for each tap you have.Tapper - Picnic taps are the cheapest possible solution here. They are simply plastic pieces that fit on the end of a hose…you push the lever and voila, beer.Kegs!Optional parts:Hose adapters (flare fitting) - These are two separate pieces that attach to the end of your gas/beer hose. The connector then screws onto your liquid/gas disconnect or regulator. I recommend going this route.Nylon washers - These are used to avoid metal to metal contact on your fittings. I recommend these for each connection you have a flare fitting on, on the gas side.Splitter - Splitters allow you to hook up more than 1 keg to your kegorator. There are cheaper splitters that allow you to connect 2-3 kegs at the same pressure as well as more expensive distributors that will allow you to turn the gas on/off and add additional kegs.Where to buy?I’m asked this question quite often, and it’s never an easy answer. You can certainly get all or most of these items from your local homebrew shop, or you can try to go for the cheapest possible price and go thru multiple vendors. Personally, I try to go for the best pricing, with only a few shops to cut down on shipping. Here’s my suggestions on parts:
      [*]CO2 Tank – Definitely look locally for one of these first. Most places only exchange CO2 tanks (rather than filling yours). If you go new, Beverage Factory is the place to go: https://www.beverage...ks/co2/C5.shtml. $55.00[*]Regulator – Either Beverage Factory https://www.beverage...ble/742BF.shtml ($37.00) or Homebrew Adventures (screw on regulator). https://www.homebrew...ct_Code=KEG-065. ($45.00 with discount)[*]Beer line – Homebrew Adventures. Either KEG-047 (100ft) at $30 or KEG-045 at $.46/ft. You will need about 6ft per beer line and 3-4ft per gas line (so figure 10ft per tap).[*]Disconnects – Homebrew Adventures (flare). KEG-076 and KEG-077. You need one of each for each tap. ($5/each)[*]Tapper – Homebrew Adventures. KEG-024 ($4/each)[*]Hose adapters – You’ll need 3 of these for each tap. Homebrew Adventures. KEG-016 ($2/each)[*]Nylon washers – You’ll need two of these for each tap, but I recommend getting extra. It doesn’t take much to lose these. Homebrew Adventures. KEG-055 ($.20/each)[*]Splitter - Keep in mind, you will need the hose adapters for each of these. Homebrew Adventures. KEG-039 or KEG-041 ($9). You can also buy the splitters with hose and connectors for a few more bucks. KEG-081 for 2 kegs ($11) or KEG-080 for 3 kegs (($16).[*]Kegs - Adventures in Homebrewing https://www.homebrew...ck_p_25-70.html ($14 plus shipping)[/list]Total cost for a 1 tap budget system: ~$140Posted Image

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