First Time Keezer Build - What do you wish you knew/What lessons did you learn?

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I'm building my first keezer in two months. One lesson I've learned in life, is after every DIY project I could do it better the second time. So please, give me any advice, tips, or tricks you learned or wish you had known. A short sentence, an essay, or some links are all appreciated. My plan is to convert a deep freezer and am looking for 6-8 taps. I currently have 4 kegs with picnic taps so I know a little about kegging.
 

AlexKay

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I have two keezers, and the second is much better than the first, so I know where you’re coming from. So, lots of stuff:

Any metal that touches your beer should be stainless.

As far as plastic goes, use Duotight/EVABarrier everywhere, gas and liquid side. Brewhardware.com sells regulators and manifolds with flare fittings, and then flare to Duotight adapters.

Push tubing into the Duotight fittings all the way, past the second o-ring.

Plan things so that you have a little extra room for gas and liquid lines. It’s a pain to take kegs in and out and worry about catching and pulling a line.

You don’t need a secondary regulator for every keg, but it’s nice to have a choice of two pressures (or more.). I keep four kegs per zone, with the pressure fixed and the lines balanced for that pressure.

Add an extra gas line in, a long one that can reach well outside the keezer. Comes in handy.

Use a false bottom and a fan (or two). I got better results mounting the fans to the false bottom and blowing up, but other people have different solutions. Consider a speed control on the fan, especially to keep noise down.

3” shanks are not long enough to go through a 2x4. Ask me how I know. I mean, the shanks are long enough, but then you can’t fit the faucet, faucet collar, nut, and beer nut on. (You can make 3” shanks work if you use an oversized 7/8” washer instead of the faucet collar!)

Buy at least one extra set of disconnects, as well as extra Duotight-to-flare and Duotight-to-beer thread adapters.
 

McMullan

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How many ports you need, especially when you've got old Whitelabs vials to reuse.

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Scout

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I tend to keep other things in my keezer as well as beer. Stuff like canned/bottled beer, wine, and liquor. I also have a water line run into my keezer, to a keg, then a carbon filter and out to a tap. It's nice to always have cold water on tap in the garage, but my kids like to pour me a glass "in case I get thirsty" and leave it sit around.
 

micraftbeer

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I had a gas manifold with 4 ports and a secondary regulator on each "so I could adjust pressure on each branch individually if I wanted". It turns out I did it like maybe once, then set every single one to the same pressure. And I was left with this monstrosity of metal and gauges that always got in the way while trying to move kegs in and out. Keezer #2 had multi port manifold, but the whole thing is fed by a common regulated pressure.

Put as many gas lines in as you can fit kegs. In keezer #1 I could fit 6 kegs, but I only used a 4 port regulator. Even though I only had 4 taps, I frequently had to shuffle gas lines. Maybe only serving 4, but the next two on deck I wanted to be carbing up.

PC Cooling fan is an absolute must. It's dramatic how significant even a poorly placed fan can even out keezer temperatures.

This is more of a woodworking tip than a keezer tip, but I had to learn the hard way a couple times. The 2x6 or 2x8 you buy from the lumber yard look like they're square cuts, but they're not. If you assume they are and then try to make a nice box frame, you get something that either has gaps at the corner joints, or ends up tight at the corners but completely twisted and doesn't sit flat on your freezer or lid. So always cut a new end.

Links below to my review of Inkbird Bluetooth temperature probe that I used to map out temperature effect of fan. Also, ITW GovReg pressure regulator I used to clean up space inside.



 

pvpeacock

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1. Don't buy shanks that are too long. I thought the longer the better and then found out they made it hard to put kegs in and take them out. I ended up replacing all 4 shanks after a year or two.
2. Duotight fittings and eva barrier tubing at least for the beer lines.
3. My keezer holds six 5-gallon kegs and two 2 1/2 or 3 gallon kegs on the hump. I have a 20 lb. CO2 tank on the outside with a dual regulator. I then mounted a 6 way manifold and a 2 way manifold inside. The 6 way is at 12 PSI for beer and slow carbing and the 2 way is at 34 PSI for soda water/hop water and for quick carbing beer.
4. Don't worry if it is ugly, particularly if it's in your garage like mine. While some on this website are pieces of art, if done right, a keezer will do its job no matter how ugly it is on the outside.
5. Don't waste your money on flow control taps. 2 of my 4 taps are flow control and are a waste of money in my opinion. I would replace mine, but don't want/need to spend the money since they work.
6. Cheap drip tray: Amazon.com: CMS Magnetics Magnetic Tool Tray 12"x4.5"x1.25" Black Tool Organizer w/Side Holding Magnets for Cabinets, Tool Boxes or Kegerator Fridge | Keg Drip Tray | Beer Taps Tray : Home & Kitchen
 

mashinary

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For me it was these things:
  • Tape your temp probe to a can of something. I'm fancy so I use can of Pabst. The probe bouncing in ambient air will shorten the life of the compressor.
  • Insulate the backside of the collar. I used foam insulation from a hardware store.
  • Don't drink too much once you get it going. Beer on tap can lead to unexpected dance competitions.
  • Pay the extra for forward sealing faucets. I went through some cheap a55 chrome plated garbage.
 

pvpeacock

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  • Don't drink too much once you get it going. Beer on tap can lead to unexpected dance competitions.
Agree 100%. Having good beer on tap is tempting. That's why I converted two of my beer taps to soda water and kombucha.
 

HopSoldier

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My thanks to the OP for starting this thread. Any advice building a keezer tower? Any issues when raising the lid, hose routing, cooling, etc? Could/should you place the tower over the compressor hump, perhaps with a split lid?

It also seems most builds are placed on a wall. I’m considering a more traditional bar where the keezer/bar would be away from the wall with access to taps from behind, bar stools in front, etc. any advice here?
 
OP
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My thanks to the OP for starting this thread. Any advice building a keezer tower? Any issues when raising the lid, hose routing, cooling, etc? Could/should you place the tower over the compressor hump, perhaps with a split lid?

It also seems most builds are placed on a wall. I’m considering a more traditional bar where the keezer/bar would be away from the wall with access to taps from behind, bar stools in front, etc. any advice here?
I really like these ideas! I was wondering the advantage/disadvantage to a tower vs taps? It seem like the overwhelming majority of people use taps.
 

Konadog

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It also seems most builds are placed on a wall. I’m considering a more traditional bar where the keezer/bar would be away from the wall with access to taps from behind, bar stools in front, etc. any advice here?
I have seen one build that they put a table top on the lid, but off center leaving one short end without an overhang. They put the taps on that short end (hump end) instead of the long side.
 

Knightshade

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I built a fermentation chamber, not a keezer but I suspect the same thing could apply. At least...it would for me.

"You...are not as good as you think you are at cutting a straight lines with a circular saw and jigsaw. I mean...you're not horrible but...if there is a next time ask your neighbor who practically has a full wood workshop in his garage if you can use his table and chop saw. If he says no...ask his neighbor. Ya big dope."

Right tools for the job just make things easier
 

HopSoldier

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What I’m considering is a 7 to 8 foot long bar/keezer with a tower in the center. Probably put it on casters so I can move/shift it in the room. Bar stools on one side, pour beer from the other side.

With a beer tower, seems like it would be advantageous to have it fixed versus on the lid to access the keezer for keg exchange. Perhaps a tower off to one side of the keezer using an insulated conduit to run the beer lines (with a fan to keep them cool)? Or is this more trouble than it’s worth?
 

HopSoldier

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Thanks Konadog and day tripper.

Are there other options besides reusing the hinges on the keezer top? I recall one build with cantilever/lift hinges something like this:

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Seems like this would be a good option with a tower build.
 

HopSoldier

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Likely more trouble than it's worth.

This is my 3rd iteration of a 6 tap tower on a keezer atop a dolly. Definitely my best effort :)

My "K3" 14.8cf Keezer Build

Cheers!

I read your entire build—it is incredible. The glass rinser is a really neat addition. The electronics are over the top impressive as is the woodworking.

Thanks for sharing!
 

Go4wide

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NOT AGAIN: I decided to put casters under mine so I could wheel it from the unfinished area of my basement, where it normally lives, to my bar area. The bar area isn't big enough to handle it regularly, but during a party it would be convenient for the kegs to be in the bar area. Fact is, I've never benefited from it being mobile. I just have guests go into the "back room" or I do it for them. Adding the wheels made the keezer a few inches taller and now it's very hard to reach the inside bottom for cleaning.

DEFINITELY AGAIN: I decided to build the collar from a 3-layer sandwich of 1x6 red oak on the outside, 3/4" rigid foam middle layer, and 1x6 vinyl exterior trim on the inside layer. I get a great look on the outside, a layer of insulation, and a washable surface on the inside. I then added a top cap to the "sandwich" made of the 1" vinvl trim. I routed a groove into the top cap that matched the profile of the top door gasket. This design has worked perfectly. It cost more money and time than 2x6 wood that most people use for their collar, but the benefits have been well worth it.

MIXED RESULTS: My drip tray is stainless steel and it's held in place by a wooden shelf. I didn't want to drill into the freezer wall to mount the shelf, so I glued rare earth magnets to hold the shelf in place below the taps. It's worked okay, but the epoxy glue I used to attach the magnets to the shelf isn't strong enough to hold them onto the shelf when I pull the shelf off for cleaning.
 

AlexKay

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MIXED RESULTS: My drip tray is stainless steel and it's held in place by a wooden shelf. I didn't want to drill into the freezer wall to mount the shelf, so I glued rare earth magnets to hold the shelf in place below the taps. It's worked okay, but the epoxy glue I used to attach the magnets to the shelf isn't strong enough to hold them onto the shelf when I pull the shelf off for cleaning.
For next time, maybe countersunk magnets are the way to go!
 

OakIslandBrewery

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DEFINITELY AGAIN: I decided to build the collar from a 3-layer sandwich of 1x6 red oak on the outside, 3/4" rigid foam middle layer, and 1x6 vinyl exterior trim on the inside layer. I get a great look on the outside, a layer of insulation, and a washable surface on the inside. I then added a top cap to the "sandwich" made of the 1" vinvl trim. I routed a groove into the top cap that matched the profile of the top door gasket. This design has worked perfectly. It cost more money and time than 2x6 wood that most people use for their collar, but the benefits have been well worth it.
For a good washable surface I've used plastic panel material. It comes in 4x8 sheets, it's easy to cut to size and it's cheaper than the vinyl trim pieces. PLAS-TEX is the product sold at the local store but I'm sure there's other brands sold by others. I've also used fiberglass wall panels. They also come in 4x8 sheets and offer lots of uses around the home brewery beside a lining material.

The red oak is a beautiful choice for the outside!
 

Konadog

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DEFINITELY AGAIN: I decided to build the collar from a 3-layer sandwich of 1x6 red oak on the outside, 3/4" rigid foam middle layer, and 1x6 vinyl exterior trim on the inside layer. I get a great look on the outside, a layer of insulation, and a washable surface on the inside. I then added a top cap to the "sandwich" made of the 1" vinvl trim. I routed a groove into the top cap that matched the profile of the top door gasket. This design has worked perfectly. It cost more money and time than 2x6 wood that most people use for their collar, but the benefits have been well worth it.
Interesting, I put my vinyl trim on the outside of mine to match the white freezer. I also didn't use any foam board inside. No problems with condensation outside and agree that "the benefits have been well worth it."

Konadogs Keezer
 

Gozie Boy

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+1 on gas tanks (CO2 and beer gas) being outside of the keezer if you can. Made my 2nd keezer (upstairs) that way, and am so happy. Now converting my 1st keezer (downstairs); it's almost claustrophobic having the tanks in the freezer (esp. if you also run beer gas) and more work to do almost everything inside.

Since your CO2 tank(s) are now outside, you can use a 20# tank, which I much prefer to 5 or 10# tanks and is more affordable in the long run (refills). You can also easily sit the tank on a scale to monitor your volume, since a pressure gauge is ineffective for this purpose for CO2. I use this one with a phone charger-type power supply (instead of batteries) so that you can just leave it on if you like:

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I use two 5" (120mm) computer fans; the one on the hump end is fitted to the underside of the freezer lid and hinged to be able to move it up and out of the way if needed. The second one sits at the freezer bottom on the other end. Huge improvement in temperature gradient management. As a time saver, I found these simple wire connectors for splicing and tee-ing your power supply lines to your fans. In Keezer #1 I did all my wiring with stripping, soldering, heat shrink wrapping, etc. TIME CONSUMING AND NOT NEEDED. These are cheap and kinda like the Duotight of small electrical wiring:

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Definitely use something on the floor to protect the rather fragile freezer bottom from dings when moving kegs. I use a sheet of acrylic/plexiglass. Better than wood for beer spills, which can develop mold.

I use 3-1/8" shanks through my 2x6 collars; much better than 4" ones which can get in the way of moving kegs. (But I will put my taps on the hump side if there is a next time, which would also minimize shank/keg issues). I don't understand the comment against the 3" shanks; they definitely do work in 2' thick collars. Also, use stainless steel shanks and ones with 3/16 ID, if possible.

I use an Inkbird temp controller, with the probe placed in a small water bottle with about 15% or so of glycol in it. I place the bottle on the hump and on a piece of insulation so that its temp is not overly influenced by the temp of the surface upon which it sits, which may fluctuate due to the compressor going on and off.

+1 on Duotight connectors/EvaBarrier tubing. Use RO-style plastic locking clips on all push connections. I also use gas teflon tape on screw connections, especially any MFL connectors which do not have nylon tips (I also use nylon flare washers on those). They say you don't need these, but my experience shows that I did, and it cannot hurt.

I strongly recommend the use of Intertap springs for your faucets, and am amazed it took me so long to discover them. They work in Perlick forward sealing faucets (which I also recommend). They don't work in flow control faucets, but ball lock poppet springs do work (two "interwoven" springs per faucet is plenty of force to return the tap handle).

I labelled the top of my (black) lid with "Chalk Ink" pens for both the taps and the kegs. I use their water-based pens for items like labels and info that will change (easily wiped clear with water). The more permanent items like boxes and circles I used their "pro" pens, which do not come off except with acetate (but easily comes off if needed). MUCH better than real chalk! I built the one below originally as a conditioning keezer for 6 kegs but then decided what the heck let's add some gas and taps, but I only needed 4 serving taps. The keezer downtairs has 6 taps, which together with the 4 is plenty, since I will always have a few empty slots or duplicate kegs which do not need taps.

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And use plenty of silicone sealant on all joints and places where outside air could enter the keezer.

Good luck!
 
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McMullan

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DEFINITELY AGAIN: I decided to build the collar from a 3-layer sandwich of 1x6 red oak on the outside, 3/4" rigid foam middle layer, and 1x6 vinyl exterior trim on the inside layer. I get a great look on the outside, a layer of insulation, and a washable surface on the inside. I then added a top cap to the "sandwich" made of the 1" vinvl trim. I routed a groove into the top cap that matched the profile of the top door gasket. This design has worked perfectly. It cost more money and time than 2x6 wood that most people use for their collar, but the benefits have been well worth it.

That's more or less what I did. Except I used oak veneer on ply for the finish, which is more stable generally.

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McMullan

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I like your fan and temp probe mount. Are they glued in place?
Gorilla tap. Bent the perspex for the fan using a heat gun. White Lab's vial is resting in some plastic corner trim. All silicone sealed. Not in full use yet, but insulation wise it's excellent. I think it could be used as a freezer.

Edit: unfortunately, due to supply chain issues and the cost of materials almost doubling things are on hold at the moment.

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The smaller one for lager is almost complete, though.

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BongoYodeler

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Some things I did that may come in handy...

I recently converted to a keezer. I previously had two kegs with picnic taps and my 20 lb CO2 tank in a garage fridge. That was a pain. I bought a used 7 cu ft GE freezer and built a collar using 2x10 lumber. I hinged both the keezer top and the collar for easier access. With that size collar I can fit a full-size 5 gallon corny keg on the hump in addition to the three kegs on the floor. I also made the switch to Evabarrier tubing and Duotight fittings, (great decision!!). I mounted the keezer on a platform with castors so I can roll the whole thing out to my back patio when we're having a party. The platform is large enough for my CO2 tank, which I have strapped to the keezer. I mounted a power strip behind the keezer for the fan and the Inkbird controller.

Since I'm nearing retirement I don't want to be lifting a full keg (or fermenter) into the keezer, so I bought a 6:1 gambrel off Amazon and mounted it to my garage ceiling. I haven't used it yet but I'm hoping it'll make lifting full kegs quite a bit easier.

One additional thing I did was to use a short piece of Evabarrier coming off the Taprite regulator into a Duotight Tee. One end goes into the keezer, the other to a shutoff, some tubing, and gas QD. This way I can purge a keg outside the keezer with the lid closed.

I'm currently using the keezer but I still have a few things I plan on doing: insulate the collar, some sort of tubing management, and paint the keezer, probably black.
 

McMullan

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Since I'm nearing retirement I don't want to be lifting a full keg (or fermenter) into the keezer, so I bought a 6:1 gambrel off Amazon and mounted it to my garage ceiling. I haven't used it yet but I'm hoping it'll make lifting full kegs quite a bit easier.

Have you considered pressure transferring into an empty keg placed in the keezer? One of the reasons I put ball-lock posts on the back of my keezer.

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McMullan

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I have not, but that is certainly worth considering.
They work both ways, if you ever wanted to transfer out, to another keg, growler or even bottling. One thing I should add is I only use the stainless ones for gas, as they can get a bit unreliable with beer, ime. The plastic ones are much better for beer and are really easy to dissemble for cleaning, whereas the SS ones are a PITA.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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Great idea
Have you considered pressure transferring into an empty keg placed in the keezer? One of the reasons I put ball-lock posts on the back of my keezer.

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Great idea and good suggestion on the plastic for beer. I would have went with all SS, especially the beer ports. What are the black capped ports on the two ends for?
 

McMullan

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I'd like to know the components you used to add these ports to the collar.
Old White Labs vials. PET bottle blanks. Clamp in a vice and take a hacksaw to them. I used Gorilla glue to fix them securely in 28mm diameter holes. Compatible ball-lock caps are available in most LHBS. The plastic ones are Kegland's.

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OakIslandBrewery

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Old White Labs vials. PET bottle blanks. Clamp in a vice and take a hacksaw to them. I used Gorilla glue to fix them securely in 28mm diameter holes. Compatible ball-lock caps are available in most LHBS. The plastic ones are Kegland's.

View attachment 750390
Excellent idea! I searched all over for that thread type in an adaptable fitting, with very few ideas. So cool! Thanks!
 
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