Beginner moving to keg system, setup input requested.

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NocturnalKC

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Hi guys,

I've run a few batches of beer (mostly lagers) using my garage in winter to provide the cool temps, but now I have a full size side by side fridge due to an upcoming kitchen remodel that I want to use for kegging and I have a ton of questions. (bottling was a PITA)

I'm thinking that the full size fridge should have plenty of room for both a carboy for lagering and for storing 2-3 of the soda style kegs. I've been looking up the keg kits on midwest supplies and that part seems fairly straight forward. I would tap the front of the fridge most likely.

What I'm not sure of is where to spend the money now vs upgrading later. I have a bunch of hobbies and I know that sometimes it's better to just buy the good stuff and save.

Ideally I'd like to be able to do both C02 and Nitrogen. Are there any kits that can accommodate both easily? Where should I spend the money (better regulators, taps etc.)? Does anyone know if there is a way to use a thermostat on just the freezer side of the fridge to bring that temp up to fridge levels? Most of the ones I've seen use for DIY keezers just cut the power off when the temp get's too low.

Thanks guys.

ps if you want to tell me "go search first noob" I totally understand, but maybe point me in the right direction first ;)
 

h22lude

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So you are using the side by side for beer or is the side by side your new kitchen fridge and you have a full size fridge for beer? I don't think a side by side would be big enough to ferment (lager) in. Freezer on top or full fridge are the best options (or chest freezer if you also get a temp controller). If you are using a fridge, some come with a temp controller built in so you can adjust how cold it is. It will depend on how cold you like your beer. I think most built in controllers go up to 40. If you like it warmer, you may have to buy or build a temp controller.

If you really want CO2 and nitrogen, you will need two gas tanks and two regs (and most likely you will want a stout tap). Nitrogen set ups get expensive. IMO, skip the nitrogen set up. I was going to go nitrogen but I couldn't justify spending that kind of money just to get the mouth feel of a stout with nitrogen. I suggest spending money on Perlick faucets, kegs, and a good reg. I have a few used CO2 tanks I got from a soda shop that work fine but you can also spend some money on a nice new one if you want. The two most important parts of a kegerator are good faucets (Perlicks are the best IMO) and a good reg that doesn't walk (some cheap regs won't stay at the PSI you set them at and can cause over carbed or under carbed beer).
 
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NocturnalKC

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The side by side is now my beer fridge. The fridge side is almost 5' high, 17" wide, and close to 24" deep. (internal dimensions) The freezer side is 5' high, 12" wide and almost 23" deep.

My carboy is in the basement but midwest lists the 6 gallon as having an 11" diameter and height of 22". The 5 gallon gets are 25" high and 8.5" diameter so I should be able to fit a carboy on the bottom and build a shelf to hold 2 kegs side by side (kegs are 25" x 8.5") and I think that leaves enough room for plumbing.

The fridge/freezer does have a built in thermostat, I'm just not sure if the freezer is able to be set above freezing. If the temp works out I think I could fit a carboy in that side also.

Good points on the nitro, that may be a down the road upgrade once I finish my basement bar.

As far as keg type,are there any real differences in ball vs pin lock or is it just a matter of once you have a type you are stuck with it?

Thanks
 

BBL_Brewer

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I too would like to learn how you would go about using the freezer side of a side by side frige to maintain refrigerator temps. My keggerator is a side by side and I'd like to use the other side for lagering as well. I suppose you could just play around with the internal thermostat? Here's a link to an HTB thread where they discuss this. The instructions are for a chest freezer, but I would think it would work on this too. I'd like a more controllable option though so that I could easily vary the temp. Hopefully someone will chime in on this.
 
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NocturnalKC

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Good stuff. Thanks for the input guys.

Once I move the fridge I'll turn the freezer down to it's lowest setting. Hopefully it winds up at about 40 or so which would be great for lagering.
 

JonM

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And that's a darn fine serving temp, too. I keep my fridge right around there - maybe a little warmer.
 

DieKatzchen

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I wouldn't get a brand new CO2 tank. From what I understand most places that sell gasses don't actually refill your tank while you wait, that would take too long. They just exchange your empty for a full tank. So the first time you bought a refill, bye-bye brand new tank.
 

BBL_Brewer

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I wouldn't get a brand new CO2 tank. From what I understand most places that sell gasses don't actually refill your tank while you wait, that would take too long. They just exchange your empty for a full tank. So the first time you bought a refill, bye-bye brand new tank.

That depends on where you fill it. I fill mine at a fire extinguisher place, they don't swap. I've heard it's better to do the swap thing though, usually the CO2 is cheaper. Do yourself a favor and start out with a 20 lb tank. A little more expensive for the tank, but CO2 is a lot cheaper and it will last a very long time. Just watch out for gas leaks when you first get started. It doesn't take long to catch on after draining a couple tanks.
 

abeasst

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Get a dual co2 regulator so you can control the CO2 for each keg individually. I would also suggest getting perlick faucets so you don't have to worry about faucets getting stuck when not used frequently.
 

Richter12x2

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I wouldn't get a brand new CO2 tank. From what I understand most places that sell gasses don't actually refill your tank while you wait, that would take too long. They just exchange your empty for a full tank. So the first time you bought a refill, bye-bye brand new tank.

This. I just had this experience with a shiny new 20 lb aluminum tank with handle. Very sad.

As for freezer at refrigerator temperatures - I'm building a side by side into a kegerator/lager fridge too -

Mine has dials that set the temp for freezer and refrigerator side and they're in the top. The way most work is, Freezer thermostat controls the compressor and refrigerator side opens a damper/fan that blows in cold air from freezer, so freezer will always be colder than the refrigerator.

In mine (Kenmore) if you pop the cover off the area where the dials set the temp, each dial goes to a potentiometer, and each potentiometer connects to a thermostat. In my case I'm going with a temp controller off ebay. But the cheapest way you could do it (in mine at least, I considered this) - disconnect the refrigerator wires from the refrigerator stat and freezer stat, and plug the wires from your freezer stat to your fridge stat (now the compressor comes on whenever the refrigerator temperature probe wants it cooler) then saw a big hole in the wall between freezer and fridge side (leave the area where the door closes and enough behind it for structure). Now freezer and fridge are the same size, and set your temp using the refrigerator stat.

The reason I didn't do this - lagering happens about 55 degrees - so if you dial it up for lagering, then whatever beer you serve is going to be 55 degrees for those few weeks. So for the price of a pair of ebay temp controllers, you can keep your kegs around 34-40 and lager away in the other side of the fridge.

If you cut out the ice in door and icemaker parts (takes work, that, but read the how-tos, it's well-trodden ground), you should be able to get 4 kegs in freezer side, maybe. Then co2 line goes out the icemaker in-spout and to a cylinder outside the fridge.

Good luck!
 

Richter12x2

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That depends on where you fill it. I fill mine at a fire extinguisher place, they don't swap. I've heard it's better to do the swap thing though, usually the CO2 is cheaper. Do yourself a favor and start out with a 20 lb tank. A little more expensive for the tank, but CO2 is a lot cheaper and it will last a very long time. Just watch out for gas leaks when you first get started. It doesn't take long to catch on after draining a couple tanks.

From what I hear, most on-site fillers use gas to gas instead of liquid to gas, so you end up with less in the tank after all is said and done.

In my area, cost to swap a 5 lb cylinder is $20. Cost to swap a 20 lb cylinder is $30.
 
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NocturnalKC

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This. I just had this experience with a shiny new 20 lb aluminum tank with handle. Very sad.

As for freezer at refrigerator temperatures - I'm building a side by side into a kegerator/lager fridge too -

Mine has dials that set the temp for freezer and refrigerator side and they're in the top. The way most work is, Freezer thermostat controls the compressor and refrigerator side opens a damper/fan that blows in cold air from freezer, so freezer will always be colder than the refrigerator.

In mine (Kenmore) if you pop the cover off the area where the dials set the temp, each dial goes to a potentiometer, and each potentiometer connects to a thermostat. In my case I'm going with a temp controller off ebay. But the cheapest way you could do it (in mine at least, I considered this) - disconnect the refrigerator wires from the refrigerator stat and freezer stat, and plug the wires from your freezer stat to your fridge stat (now the compressor comes on whenever the refrigerator temperature probe wants it cooler) then saw a big hole in the wall between freezer and fridge side (leave the area where the door closes and enough behind it for structure). Now freezer and fridge are the same size, and set your temp using the refrigerator stat.

The reason I didn't do this - lagering happens about 55 degrees - so if you dial it up for lagering, then whatever beer you serve is going to be 55 degrees for those few weeks. So for the price of a pair of ebay temp controllers, you can keep your kegs around 34-40 and lager away in the other side of the fridge.

If you cut out the ice in door and icemaker parts (takes work, that, but read the how-tos, it's well-trodden ground), you should be able to get 4 kegs in freezer side, maybe. Then co2 line goes out the icemaker in-spout and to a cylinder outside the fridge.

Good luck!

Ah, great idea.

I might do that.
 
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