No home bar could ever be complete without beer on tap. Kegged beer is typically fresher, more flavorful, and a better value per ounce. The trick is keeping your tap system maintained, and ensuring the kegs are always cold. The simplest, most cost effective way to serve draft beer at home is with a kegerator. It’s true that you can buy completed kegerators for home use, but making your own provides the flexibility to custom fit your tap system to any situation. There’s also a great sense of pride in building your own keg system, with absolute bragging rights to your buddies for being a do-it-yourself master. Here’s an easy to follow video, and set of instructions on how to make a kegerator.
Parts You Need
- Draft Tower
- Air Line
- CO2 Regulator
- Coupler (or “tap”)
- CO2 Tank
You can easily find kegerator kits that include all of these parts, excluding the co2 tank. You can find that at a local industrial supply or welder shop.
Selecting the Right Refrigerator
The refrigerator should be big enough to house the C02 tank & a Cornelius 5 gallon keg. Use the interior dimensions of the keg fridge to do your math. You’re going to want something about FIVE to SIX cubic foot. Make sure it’s tall enough and wide enough to fit all the equipment. The main concern is being large enough to fit the Cornelius keg with the tap on it. If it’s a tight fit, you can even free up room by removing the interior door panel, if necessary in most cases. To remove the door panel, pull back the stripping on the edges, and remove the screws. Then, cut a new flat panel from rigid plastic, and mount using the existing holes.
Checking for Coolant Lines
Before you cut the hole for your beer line in your keg refrigerator, it’s important to check for coolant lines. Make a paste out of cornstarch and rubbing alcohol. Apply a thin layer onto the top. When plugged in, the Heat from any internal coils that may be in your drill path will dry the paste, revealing the cooling lines. If you don’t see any dry patches after a few minutes, you’re ready to drill!
Drilling a Hole for the Beer Line
Find the spot you want to drill your hole, and mark it. Be sure to measure inside and out, to avoid cooling lines, interior hardware, or lights. If you hit these, it’s game over, so be careful! Drill a pilot hole using a drill bit designed for sheet metal. Next, use a one and a half inch hole saw bit to drill a hole large enough to fit the beer line and insulation. Don’t forget to clean up the mess!
Mounting the Draft Tower
To mount the tower kit, feed the beer line through the hole, then drill screw holes into the top of the kegerator. Add screws to secure the draft tower, reinforcing with plywood inside if necessary. Don’t forget to wrap the top of the beer line with pipe insulation before you mount to help keep your beer cold as it travels up the tap! You can find the pipe insulation in any hardware store.
Connecting the Tap
After the draft tower is installed, connect the insulated beer line to the keg coupler, or “tap”. Run the C02 from the beer keg to the co2 regulator. Then connect the regulator to the CO2 Tank. Let the beer chill in your brand new kegerator, and you’re ready to party. Cheers!