Broken Robot Brewing Co.
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Someplace, Nebraska
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Bucket-based Cheap, Slim, Portable Homebrew Keg Dispenser - Instead of BM trash can
Actually, THREE buckets. $2.40 each.
I threw away the receipt (D'oh!) but the parts for the plastic bulkhead were ~$8.00.
QD's, lines, etc. were simply stolen off of my beer fridge for the event, then replaced when I came home. I was lazy and didn't get around to taking photographs until now, so I mocked it up using extra beer line & fittings I have lying around (I hoard keg supplies) ... you can tell in a couple photos that it's not fully assembled, I confess - but at the event I poured beer at, it worked like a charm.
First, I took a bucket, and cut the entire bottom out of it, running the knife just along the inside of the thick ridge so the opening was as wide as possible. Also, take the handle off of bucket #1. It'll just get in the way. The secondbucket will have one you can carry the base by, and the third bucket will have one to carry the top half by.
Then on the second bucket, I drilled a hole in the side wall, near the bottom, to drain melted ice water from. On that, I mounted a plastic 1/2" ball valve, a barbed fitting which I cut the barb off, a close nipple, and a second 90* barb to divert the water flow downward. If you have a long day and multiple kegs, you'll need to drain water periodically, or when you're ready to call it a night and need to dump the ice, draining the water lightens your load. This makes it super easy to maintain the ice levels & temp. of your beer.
I flipped the first bucket upside-down and taped it to the second one using a single long piece of tape along the seam, to create a large keg-sized chamber. I used gaffing tape, but duck tape would suffice. As long as you apply it on a clean, dry surface the first time, I see no reason why it'd develop a leak during use -- but the intent is definitely to disassemble the bucket between uses, and use a fresh strip of tape each time. Anyways, this base assembly is what you're going to put the keg inside.
The third bucket needs two holes. One in the rear is to pass air line through, so your CO2 canister will sit outside of the dispenser during use. The second is for the beer shank, and is drilled exactly opposite the air line hole. Inside of this bucket are a liquid and gas QD, and a couple feet of line.
The rig is assembled by placing your full keg of beer inside the base unit, then filling ice around the keg until full. Clear the ice away from both posts, spritz with a little StarSan, and - holding the 3rd bucket next to you, attach your QDs on to the keg.
Now, invert the 3rd bucket so that it nests upside-down over the top half of the base assembly, resting on bucket #1. Turn on your gas, and you are in business.
If you wanted, you could bolster this by adding foil blanket insulation, or a padded jacket, etc. -- My event was outdoors in the evening in October, so melting ice was not too big of a worry!
As a bonus, if the wind isn't too bad, you can set a pile of plastic cups on top of the bucket! Or if you serve a berliner weisse, you could set your syrups there. Or if a wheat beer, you could set out citrus wedges there.
Hope you enjoyed my build.