Inspiration for this build comes from racin_ny's build thread here. Cheers to you racin_ny and thanks for answering my questions!
I took this info from the homebrewing blog I just started, but feel free to comment/ask any questions here or on the blog (here).
I really really love English beers through a handpump, but I wasn’t about to spend $400 on a beer engine until I had at least tried this out at home. I saw a BYO article about building a beer engine out of an RV hand pump and a pretty cool build on HBT so I decided to cannablize a wine-cooler that was collecting dust and build a beer engine/caskegerator (hand pump, swan neck, sparkler tip, cooling unit, corny kegs = Beer Engine Caskegerator).
It’s cooled by the peltier cooling unit from the wine cooler, and an additional PC fan. My basement isn’t quite cool enough yet so I am supplementing the cooling with some frozen 2 liter jugs which allows the setup to hover around 52-53F.
I had a swan neck fabricated by Zach at stainlessbrewing.com and added a compression fitting to 3/8″ MPT, I then jammed a sparkler tip on there and turned it to basically create new threads. After flushing the system a few times all the plastic chunks were purged out.
The pump is a Valtera Rocket Hand Pump that I got on Amazon for $28.
Ordinary bitter (recipe on blog):
Sorry there aren't more build pics, but it's basically just an insulated 2X4 box with a wine cooler unit on the back and a temp controller. I'd be happy to answer any questions.
Very cool! Might be dumb question, but your vinyl hose just sits in a corny with no lid on it? How long does the beer hold up sitting open to oxygen like that? Normal 3 days for a cask?
The picture doesn't show it, but there is a keg disconnect on the end of that vinyl tubing. So far I've been allowing a small amount of C02 in from a tank to displace the pumped beer, but if I'm having people over and think we can kill a keg in a weekend or something I'd just let air in by opening the keg relief valve. I'll probably eventually invest in a c02 tank and regulator with a LPG low pressure regulator (like racin_ny uses) to act as a cask breather.
I wanted to try one of the portable c02 cartridge setups but have been told they leak and probably wouldn't work for this set up - anyone agree/disagree with that?
Very nice. Did you naturally carb it with sugar in the corny, or did you use CO2 for that? How's the beer? Is it "flatter" like most cask conditioned beers in pubs?
For this beer I racked to the keg 2 gravity points above the anticipated FG but it carbed up a bit higher than I wanted. I did another batch with priming sugar and that worked better. Yes, the carbonation is a bit restrained as it's driven out of solution through the sparkler tip, gives it a lovely texture.