Background and story first, for those of you playing at home who want to skip the craftbrew induced ramblings, feel free to skip down...
I got into this hobby less then a week ago, brewed my first beer (a Fat Tire clone, still in primary) Saturday, and am planning on brewing my second beer this Friday. I love to cook, bartend at a decently high end restaurant, love to play with molecular gastronomy and mixology, and am a tinkerer at heart, so I guess it's no real surprise that even though I haven't even tasted a homebrew yet, I am totally obsessed.
Now a friend of mine works at H.H. Greg (an IN big box appliance store), and I mentioned to him in passing that I was brewing now, and at some point I would be looking for a chest freezer to turn into a keggerator, since I live with three other people, all of us in our mid-twenties, and like to drink good stuff. Next thing I know, he calls me up, and tells me they're trying to get rid of all their chest freezers and wants to know if I would be interested in a floor model 14.8 c/f Frigidaire for $225, including a 10 year compressor warranty.
Right. That was yesterday, and I obviously now have a freezer sitting in my garage, waiting to be converted.
This is my tentative plan. It's not going to be all at once, but my gramps and dad taught me to think things through and plan ahead for further needs, so I want to get this all figured out before I start to build, and plan for expansion.
So I want to do a collar, and am planning on making a collar big enough to fit (hopefully) two 6.5 gallon glass carboys for fermentation on the hump. I don't have a 6.5, but I know two 6 gallons will fit side by side like it was designed that way, so I'm hoping it'll work out. If it doesn't, then one carboy and a little basket for miscellaneous stuff will still be awesome. Since I don't yet, you know, own any kegs, by checking out the other threads it looks like this thing'll fit 8 (maybe 9) cornies, which is insane, yet makes me giggle to myself while rocking back and forth.
So I'm thinking 10 (15?) lb CO2 tank, and probably a mixed gas and stout tap setup eventually, though it's not real high on the priority. Both of these would be mounted externally, since CO2 and cold don't mix. Might as well say now that between my experience of being a paintball tech and then plumbing up all sorts of shop compressor setups, I'm pretty confident when it comes to dealing with air systems.
So this is what I'm thinking. Yes, it'll be expensive, but it'll be sick, and totally realistic to build in phases.
(seriously done this time!)
I'm thinking a dual primary CO2 regulator, and then seven secondaries, plus the one tap set up for nitro. The reason a dual primary? That way I can hook filled cornies up outside the keezer and get the ball rolling on carbing them, as well as using it to power the occasional commercial kegger that'll get thrown from time to time. So a utility hookup mostly, but I'm really digging the idea.
I really want secondary regs on everything, even though it's expensive as hell. I like beer. I've already got like eight brews on deck I want to do, and they're all different styles. I think I'm gonna be happier in the long run if I have the ability to fine tune the pressure for each one. Ignoring the cost factor, can you guys talk me out of it? Are there downsides?
The one thing that has me confuzzled is a balancing question. Yes, I've searched, and I have a (vague? decent? clear as mud?) understanding of it now. So you're calculating temperature, as well as carbonation level, and wanting to balance it. Cool. But on a multi reg system, how is that going to work out if you're fiddling with pressure regularly? Is it a matter of slapping 8' lines on, smacking it on the butt and calling it a day? Do I need to try to customize each line for the what the approximate pressure will be? Do I need to RDWHAHB? Because this leads to that...
So yeah, the balance thing still kinda throws me for a loop.
I guess I'm also just looking for general thoughts about the setup here. In my mind it'll be awesome, and I figure I'll just get a bank of 4 secondary regs and taps to start with, and just add as I need to, predrilling all the shank holes and just plugging them until needed. The Love TS13010 looks like the temperature controller I'll probably end up with, though wiring is not my strong point at all.
Am I totally off base here?
I appreciate those of you who read through that long winded ramble, part of this is just thinking things out loud (so to speak). If any of you folks are in the Indianapolis area, I'd love to meet up with you at a brewpub and pick your brain some more.