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Old 06-05-2012, 08:18 PM   #1
jimlin
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Default getting an old (working) fridge...

Been bottling homebrew for a year and a half. What money I have put into the hobby thus far has been to improve my brewing (Mr Beer kit as a gift > 5 gal extract batches with buckets > tukey fryer and full wort boils > yeast starters > all grain (converted 10 gal rectangular cooler, batch sparge) > temp control (1-stage temp control using a fermwrap).

All the while, I've bottled. While I've been very happy with the continued improvement in my beer, I've tried to limit the $ spent to improve the beer.

Now, I'm going to be getting the fridge from my folks' house (now in assisted living). It's old, but works fine. Got space for it in our basement. Figuring I could use it to ferment lagers, something I've never been able to do. But I think more useful at this point would be the ability to keg and finally stop bottling.

Money's always tight (married, kids, etc) so I don't like to blow a lot at once on anything that's a hobby. How much can I expect to pay if I want to build a 2-tap kegerator out of the old fridge? Everything I see online makes it seem to be a reasonable DIY project. A drill with the correct size hole bit. A couple holes in the door for the shanks. So then I'm looking at a regulator CO2 tank, tubing, facets, and 2 corny kegs.

Austin Homebrew Supply (for example) has a 2 keg setup for $485 and that's w/o the co2 tank. 5 gal tank is another $85. Yikes.

LHBS has use corny kegs for $50. Is that average pricing?

If I go the kegging route, can I buy the regulator that would serve 2 kegs, but only set up one keg at this point, and buy another one later, thus spreading out the expense over time?



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Old 06-05-2012, 08:29 PM   #2
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I just scored parts from Keg Connection for my 4 tap fridge conversion. I got all the bells and whistles with delivery within 5 days. Great service there and I would highly recommend them.

This is also my first jump into kegging, but they answered all my questions on a couple different configurations, and I was able to choose what worked best for what I had in mind. Their service meant a lot to me as I was just recently burned by another vendor, waiting weeks with no confirmation of shipping date, then another two weeks for a refund after cancelling my order.

I honestly think most vendors pricing are gonna be pretty comparable, so to me, the service is a factor in deciding who to go with. You may find some things a few bucks cheaper if you keep an eye on Craigslist. Sometimes you can find somebody getting rid of CO2 tanks or cornies a bit cheaper.



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Old 06-05-2012, 10:56 PM   #3
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Hi

If you have the time (months maybe years) you can get everything you need for next to nothing on Craig's List. If not - conversion kit likely will be $200. CO2 tank about $70 locally. How ever many Corny's you need $28 ea plus $40 shipping (up to 7) on eBay.

Bob

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Old 06-11-2012, 05:55 PM   #4
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I just got a 20# co2 tank for $50 off craigslist. You could find a smaller one for cheaper, probably.

If you browse CL for a few weeks, you'll likely be able to find just about everything you need. $50 for used ball locks doesn't seem to bad, since you don't have to pay shipping. Then maybe use someone like keg connection for the regulator and ball lock connections.

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Old 06-11-2012, 09:49 PM   #5
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I bought mine from Midwest (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/dual-double-cornelius-keg-system.html) then had to add the fridge conversion kits and 2 10' beer lines for foam free dispensing. All in ~$385, the AHS set up seems overpriced unless I am missing something.

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Old 06-11-2012, 10:10 PM   #6
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One way to save money (or spread it out, at least) is to get the kegs, regulator and lines but use picnic taps, inside the fridge. $80 for this from Keg Connection http://stores.kegconnection.com/Detail.bok?no=431

plus two kegs for $80 http://stores.kegconnection.com/Detail.bok?no=392

and a CO2 tank for $65 http://stores.kegconnection.com/Detail.bok?no=50.

Total of $225. You can upgrade it later with shanks and faucets on the door. If you want to keep the initial cost even lower, start with one keg and add a second one later.

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Old 06-11-2012, 11:56 PM   #7
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Hi

Should have asked earlier:

How big is the fridge and what sort of shape is it in? If money is tight - doing a conversion on an undersized fridge or one that dies in a year isn't a good move.

Bob

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Old 06-12-2012, 01:29 AM   #8
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I too just am getting into kegs.

Best decision I made in homebrew!
I can now scrub and sanitize one major object and get great results.
One is so much better than multiple cases of bottles.

Generally, you're on the right path. Shipped to door is he really $40-60
The intial costs seem big but worth it. You could save a bit and just use picnic tap hoses $14 or so.

This would be upgrade able n the future but still be fully serviceable.
I did this and was able to rationalize doublingy number of kegs instead!

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Old 06-12-2012, 01:40 AM   #9
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How frequently do you brew/how quickly will you kick a keg? I just pulled the trigger on a kegerator conversion kit from kegconnection. With CO2 tank I think it was about 210 shipped for a 2 keg setup. I have already acquired 3 ball lock kegs, and will likely pick up a couple more.
My decision making process on this project (over the last ~ year) was thus:
I payed attention to how many quaffing beers (ie. daily drinkers) I usually liked to keep around. I figure the bigger beers/sours/more obscure stuff I brew I'll still want to bottle so really I only need taps for session beers and daily drinkers and the like. 2 taps will allow for a variety, but facilitate drinking through kegs in a fashion that keeps things opening up, and generally I try and keep a lighter and a darker beer on hand for regular drinking, so 2 taps is perfect.
I may decide to add a collar so I can fit 2 more kegs in the fridge, but for now I'm content with my investment (~350 bucks including the mini fridge I had to pick up used).

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Old 06-12-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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I don't have the cubic ft info in front of me (will check it out tonight to see if there are still any labels on it).

It was my folks' main kitchen fridge. Guessing around 16-18 cubic ft? Older, not huge. I moved it on Sunday (on it's side in a pickup... not ideal, but there was no way we were going to be able to fasten it securely upright for 30 minutes of highway driving). Let it sit upright in my basement for about 30 hrs before plugging it in last night. Fired up fine, and was nice and cold this morning, so I'm assuming no major issues from being on its side. Moved my stash of hops from our kitchen freezer down to this one and likely made my wife very happy to have no more "beer making stuff" in the kitchen fridge.

It's definitely got some years on it. I could just go ahead with the kegging move but wait on the faucets, and just use picnic taps for the time being.

One more thing to wonder about... can I realistically use one fridge like this to brew some lagers? Lager ferment temp and lagering temps differ by about 15° right? 45-50 for fermenting, 33-35 for lagering? I'm going to want to use this fridge for storing beer to drink as well. Granted, I could always mov a 6 pack of bottles up to the kitchen fridge prior to server those while the basement fridge is at 50° if fermenting a lager.

I do have a Johnson temp control (a-419) which I have used with a fermwrap to keep ale ferments steady in my basement in the colder weather. I know it can be switched to cool as well. I assume I would need to basically plug the fridge power plug into the controler, set the fridge thermostat to coldest setting, and then adjust the temp I want to keep the fermenter at with the Johnson control temp settings, right?

Basically I'm probably thinking about too many different things, now that the extra fridge is in the basement. Brewing lagers, move to kegging, kegerator conversion (or not), etc. Honestly, the most simple benefit will be in another week, when I can take my california common beer that is carbing up in bottles in my bedroom closet and move them all into the fridge for lagering. Plus, I should be able to cold crash my 5 gal better bottle (which I used for secondary/dry-hopping) before transferring to the bottling bucket.



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