Create a Kegerator to Serve Homebrew

A kegerator to help dispense your kegged homebrew beer is a must.  Here is a step-by-step DIY on how to build a dual tap kegerator for homebrew. It is totally possible to have access to two separate cold brews at the same time by creating your very own kegerator for under $200.

Purchase Equipment

1.  Used Old Refrigerator (craigslist.com) — $60
2.  2 Perlick Perl SS Faucets (amazon.com) — $65 shipped
3.  2  Beer Shanks – Chrome Plated 4″ 3/16″ bore — $35.00
4.  2 Tail Piece 3/16″ — $1.80
5.  2 Black Neoprene Beer Shank Washer — $1.00
6.  2 Beer Shank Hex Nut — $1.60
7.  2 Long Faucet Tap Handle — $4.50
8.   10 ft 3/16″ ID Beverage Tubing  — $13.89
9. Ball lock Liquid Disconnects -or- pin-lock(depends on your kegs) — $12.00
10. 4 Hose Clamps — $.40

Choose the best Refrigerator

The kind of refrigerator you select doesn’t really matter. Kenmore, Whirlpool, Samsung it’s all the same in this case. Your only requirements are really just A) does it work and B) will my kegs fit inside. In fact, it doesn’t even really have to be a refrigerator, I have friends that have created their kegerator from an old chest freezer and that worked out just fine too.

For me, the most important feature of my soon to be kegerator was size. I wanted it to be larger enough to fit my kegs but small enough that it didn’t take over valuable square footage in my garage. If you plan to use 5 gallon kegs like I do, then a smaller “European” style refrigerator is all you really need.

European style convert to homebrew kegerator

European style convert to homebrew kegerator

Transform your Refrigerator into a Kegerator

Assuming you decide to use a refrigerator like I did, the first step in transformation process is the actual transportation of the fridge from it’s current home to yours. The best way to transport a refrigerator is upright; if you have to lay it on its side make sure you stand it upright for at least 24 hours before powering it on.  This will allow for any possible leaked oil to drain back into the compressor. If you don’t follow this rule you will likely ruin the refrigerator and be left with a large load to take to the dump.

Next, you must drill holes. Drilling holes in a refrigerator can be dangerous and may result in ruining the entire refrigerator so be careful.  Some refrigerator models have coolant lines that run throughout the walls of the fridge.   With most refrigerators the door is a safe bet.  However, if you really want to place the faucets elsewhere, drill a small hole first to check for the lines then work your way to a bigger hole once you are certain you won’t compromise the coolant lines.  Once you have located where you want the faucets to be located, mark the positions with a pen.

Mark locations to drill

Mark locations to drill

Take a smaller sized drill bit and drill straight through to create a pilot hole.  Then take a appropriately sized hole saw drill bit and drill out the hole for the shank.

Drill out holes with small bit first, then use a larger hole saw bit

Drill out holes with small bit first, then use a larger hole saw bit

Assemble Shank, Tailpiece and Faucet

The shank is the stainless steel tube like piece that has threads on either end that ultimately used as the anchor for your tap. The tailpiece is a critical piece in this project because it connects to the back of the shank and is essentially the adapter for the 3/16 beverage tubing. Gather up the shank, shank washer and nut along with the tailpiece and assemble them using the directions they came with. Insert this framework through the newly drilled hole.

Shank, tailpiece and tail nut all assembled.

Shank, tailpiece and tail nut all assembled.

Before you screw on the faucet you might want to consider making a riser. For those of you who concerned with aesthetics like me, if your surface is not flat, a riser gives the shank and tailpiece a flat object to mount to so they don’t just protrude awkwardly. I came up with a riser for my faucets made out of stainless steel since my fridge did not have a flat front.

Once you have the shank, tailpiece and riser in place simply screw on the faucet (purchasing a faucet wrench can really help here).

Riser with shank assembly and riser in place

Riser with shank assembly and riser in place

Connect Beer Lines and Serving Beer

Once the shanks and faucets have been installed correctly attach the beer lines.  Getting the beer lines to fit on the tailpiece and on the ball lock liquid disconnect can be tricky.  To help with this, boil some water in a pot, hold one end of the beer /beverage tube in the water for a few seconds, remove and slide on to the tailpiece immediately.  Make sure to have the hose clamps already on the tube.

Beer line connected to tail piece and to ball lock adapter

Beer line connected to tail piece and to ball lock adapter

Once the beer lines are connected to the tailpiece, connect the lines to the kegs and turn on the CO2.  If you need more details on how to keg homebrew beer, see our article Kegging hombrew beer.  If you are ready to go; choose your brew, pull your tap, hold the glass slightly tilted, then slowly straighten it out as the glass gets full. Drink. Enjoy.

kegging homebrewed beer
If you are  thinking about kegging homebrewed beer here is an article showing  how easy and helpful kegging can be.  Why keg?  Well to me coming up with empty bottles, cleaning them and having to wait two weeks before trying your beer was getting old quick.  Plus how cool is it to always have beer on tap at the house and cut bottle day to a 30 minute transfer session.  In the article below I will describe the equipment used in kegging homebrewed beer, how to sanitize the kegs, how to transfer your beer to kegs and how to serve your beer from kegs.

Purchase Equipment for Kegging Homebrewed Beer

I must say when I found and purchased the Brew Logic Dual Tap System from midwestsupplies.com I was a bit skeptical, considering other sites/stores were selling the same setup for $100 more.  But what a deal it was, I have been using the setup since Nov. 2009 and haven’t encountered a single problem, I have recommended it to a bunch of friends and everyone has been really happy with it.

dual keg setup

Here is what the kit for kegging homebrewed beer comes with, feel free to shop around:

1. Two reconditioned 5 gallon SS Cornelius kegs
2. 5 lb New Aluminum CO2 tank
3. Double dual gauge CO2 regulator
4. Two hand held taps (the keg party kind)
5. Gas lines with disconnects

Total: $200

Cleaning / Sanitizing the Kegs (15 minutes)

Once your beer has completed fermentation it is time to carbonate it and serve it.  To start things off the kegs will need to be cleaned and  sanitized. To clean the kegs first start out by removing the posts on both the gas and beer sides (it helps to use a deep socket).

remove keg posts

Soak all posts, tubes, poppets in a mixture of a teaspoon of beer brite and a gallon of water for 5 minutes.  Once 5 minutes has past,  assemble the keg and dump the beer brite/water solution into it.  Close the lid, shake it for 2-3 minutes and dump out the solution.  After cleaning is complete, fill the keg with about 1-2 gallons of water and a cap full of the star san (food grade sanitizer).

add water to keg

add star san to keg

Place the cap back on the keg, shake it for 2 minutes and hook up the beer and gas lines.  Keep in mind that the gas(IN) post and beer(OUT) post are completely different sizes, so make sure you connect to the correct post.  The gas(IN) post should have a line indention around the post.

gas side post

Open the valve to the CO2 tank and pressurize the keg, when it reaches 10 psi disconnect the gas line and open the beer line.  This will allow all the sanitizing solution to pass through the keg.  Once all of the sanitizing solution is out of the keg, pull the pressure release valve to release the rest of the CO2 and then open the lid completely.  The keg is now ready for beer.

Transferring Beer to the Kegs (15 minutes)

Transferring beer from a carboy, bucket or conical to the keg is relatively easy.  Just make sure all of the equipment used to transfer the beer is sanitized.  If using a carboy or bucket I prefer to put it on a kitchen counter and siphon it with a little help from gravity.  Notice the star san bubbles rising to the top, this is normal and will not affect the beer.

transfer the beer into the keg

Once you have completely transferred all the beer (~5 gallons),  apply a bit of keg lube.  Apply the keg lube to the outside of the rubber gasket that wraps around the lid, this will help prevent any minor air leaks. After applying the keg lube, close the lid and get ready to carbonate.

keg lube

Carbonating the Beer (3-4 days)

The first step in carbonation is getting all of the oxygen out of the keg, often called purging.  To do this, connect the gas line and hit the keg with around 20 psi.   When you hear the gas stop flowing, open the pressure release valve for a few seconds and let the oxygen out (oxygen is lighter then CO2 so it rises to the top).

pull pressure release valve

Repeating this process about 4-5 times should be enough to get all of the oxygen out of the keg.  Once all the oxygen has been removed, set the Co2 pressure to 12 psi and put the whole setup in the kegerator/fridge.  See our DIY kegerator for build here.

set regulator for carbonation

After 2-3 hours you will want to check/adjust the pressure, it may be off if you put the equipment into the kegerator/fridge at room temperature.  There are different methods used to force carbonate kegged beer, the one I use and is the easiest to perform is the fill it and wait method.  The keg will need to sit for at least 3-4 days at 38-40 degrees to get appropriate carbonation, be sure to keep the CO2 tank on.  To get exact carbonation, check out a force carbonation chart.

kegging setup in kegerator

Serving the Beer

After 3-4 days have past with the beer carbonating it should be ready to be served.  Drop the CO2 pressure down to 5-7 psi and connect the beer lines.  To get a good pour hold the glass slightly tilted at the beginning then slowly straighten it out as the glass gets full.

angle glass at the beginning of pour

hold glass upright at the end of the pour

Well that should cover the basics of kegging homebrewed beer, if you have any comments or questions please post them below.  Check out our DIY step by step kegerator build as well and go Brew More Beer !