Kegging Kit -- For Dumb-Dumb

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TomTomTom

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Hey gang.

I have a birthday coming up and the MRS is desperate for gift ideas.

I think I have one!

I have always been thinking about making the leap from bottles to kegs but have been apprehensive about the relative complexity of the kegging gear and the kegging process.

Is there a kegging kit designed for idiots like me -- who knows nothing about this kind of stuff -- and want it to be as "user-friendly" as possible?

If it helps you: a) I don't make any batches more than 5 gallons; b) I probably only make 6-10 batches per year; c) it will be a birthday present, but I wouldn't want the "little lady" spending much more than $300 on the initial kit; d) "bells-and-whistles" are nice, but I only need something to hold and carbonate the beer!

Thanks in advance.
 

beerinthebloodco

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kegconnection sells a variety of set ups. I got my first kit there. You just need to decide if you want a freezer of fridge as well as how many taps. There is a whole thread on kegorators and how they were built. As far as kits go, 3 taps with just components, no kegs will run about 250
 

william_shakes_beer

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If I were you I'd suggest the Mrs. get you a gift certificate for a couple hundred at the home brew store and you go pick out your gear after the holidays are over. You want to talk to someone knowledgeable about each piece, how it fits into your present and long-term kegging plans. A lot of the early decisions can and do affect later expansion plans, unless you plan to re-purchase a bunch of your stuff. Here's what I did:

I had a 5 CF chest freezer with temp controller that fit one brew bucket. When I purchased my 15 gallon kettle I began doing double batches and quickly realized that doing one batch in a swamp cooler wasn't the ideal situation. So, I purchased a bigger chest freezer and repurposed the original as a kegerator.

I took the freezer and a piece of 2x6 to the home brew store at a time in the middle of the week when I knew they wouldn't be busy. I told them my initial plans. After the chuckling was over, we had a heartfelt discussion and we selected taps, shanks, tailpieces, a regulator, manifolds, and beverage tubing. I then went to the co2 store, gave them my "deposit" and came away with a co2 bottle. I should have done this first, but I was innocent. Most people use 5LB. I chose 10 because I could fit it. Don't ask me how long a 10 pound bottle lasts, I got it 3 years ago and haven't refilled it yet.

Here's some tips to help you along:

1. Purchase 3/16 bev tubing fitted to 1/4" hose barbs ( boil a cup of water in the micro to soften the tubing before you force it on) I have hose clamps on the connections, but I swear they're so tight I don't really need them. Saves you a lot of headaches searching for leaks later. The only down side is when you (occasionally) remove the tubing from the barb, you have to cut it off flush with the end of the barb and then slit the side to get the little piece off. When you're troubleshooting foaming issues, remember: the beer is under pressure. As the beer flows through the tubing to the glass the pressure is drops. If there is still a big difference in pressure when it exits the tap, the co2 outgasses and turns the beer to foam. Line length balances the pressure by increasing pressure. Flow control taps help make minute adjustments.

2. Obtain 10 lb gas bottle.

3. Get the co2 tank from the gas retailer rather than the LHBS. If you buy a bright shiny new tank , you're going to loose it when you go to the gas shop and exchange it for a ratty rusty old steel tank. Some shops may refill your tank, most do exchange cylinders. If looking at the rusty steel tank offends your sensibilities, wrap it in Christmas paper. I mounted mine in the keezer, so I only have to look at the shutoff valve.

4. Feel free to use all the line length calculators to determine the proper length of the serving hoses. Then get 12 feet of 3/16", and trim if the pours are too slow. The first mistake I made was purchasing 1/4" bev hose and buying it according to the calculator. Longer is better, you can always trim it. Too short and you end with glasses of foam. ( By the way, do you want to buy 30 feet of slightly used 1/4" bev tubing? :) )

5. Get flow control taps. They allow you to increase resistance if a beer is foaming too much without gronking with the plumbing.

6. Include space and co2 supply in the keezer for one keg more than serving. When a keg kicks I always have another ready to go, Just move the serving line and discard the first glass of yeast.

7. Test fit everything in YOUR freezer. Don't worry about height, you're going to install a collar sized for the tallest element, which is probably going to be the keg sitting on the compressor hump. Don't forget space for 12 feet of coiled up bev tubing and gas regulator. Also, when moving a freezer, let it sight upright for 24 hours before you plug it in. Compressors with air bubbles in the Freon don't last long at all.

8. Remember that the shanks and tailpieces will stick into the space of the freezer. Locate the taps as much as possible between the kegs. Buy downturn tailpieces, and shanks as short as possible that still allow installation of nuts and tailpieces clear of the collar. Drill a hole through the 2x6 you bring to the LHBS and make them assemble a tap, shank and tailpiece to show you the relationship.I did neither and as a result I have to remove or move everything when I pull out a keg to replace it without tearing the bev tubing.

9. Secure the collar to the freezer with construction adhesive. Mount everything ( tap penetrations, temp controller, lid, mainfolds, etc) on, in and through the collar. Theoretically I could disassemble my keezer and return it to its original function. Also impossible to destroy the freezer by drilling through a Freon line.

10. Mount the collar flush with the INSIDE face of the freezer. This will get you as much space as possible and ensure the lid seals mate properly with your collar.
 

Iseneye

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$300 Won't get you much if you are looking for easy hassle free setup. If you got a bunch of stuff second hand you may get close.

You're talking fridge, co2 bottle (filled), co2 regulator, gas and beer lines, disconnects, taps, and kegs. For a dumb dumb easy solution you are looking at way more than $300.

However once you've gone kegging you are unlikely to go back to bottling.
 

mongoose33

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If you're willing to piece things together a bit, you can do it cheaply at the start. My first kegging "setup" was a keg, a regulator, a CO2 tank, tubing to connect the CO2 to the keg, and a picnic tap to serve.

I had that in an old refrigerator and served that way for several months until I built my first keezer.

Used 5-gallon ball-lock keg: $50
Taprite 2-gauge regulator, new: $50
5# CO2 tank, new, $65-70
Picnic tap, new, with ball-lock quick disconnect: $10
Co2 tubing, connectors, ball-lock quick disconnect, ~$8

That's under $200 to have a keg of beer in the fridge. Virtually all of that can be repurposed to a keezer or kegerator when and if you feel the want/need. I did.

You can step up from that a bit to a 5 cu ft freezer, and an inkbird controller to maintain serving temperature. Inkbirds will run you $35 on Amazon, and a small freezer like that roughly $150, though on sale probably less.

Then maybe at some point you decide to build a keezer collar, include faucets and such when resources permit. Check my signature below for an easy way to build a keezer collar.

You can build a keezer that'll hold 2 or 4 kegs fairly easily. The parts needed have been detailed above, but part of the key to doing it cheaply and well is being patient. Wait for a sale on a freezer, or fish on Craigslist until you find something that'll serve cheaply. The beauty of my "keg in the refrigerator" approach was that I didn't have to hurry, I could go in the most cost-effective manner possible.

If you want to do a keezer, a simple 5-cu ft freezer will let you have 2 kegs on tap, such as this:

korykeezer2.jpg

Or you can aim for eventually something more elaborate, like this:

newkeezer3.jpg
 
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Rockn_M

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Unless you get it second hand $300 is going to be hard to do. I bought from KegConnection.com about 5 years ago and it's been working great since. It came with everything you needed (except the corny kegs). I believe they have add on options for the kegs. Below is the kegerator that I bought. It doesn't take up a lot of space and can hold 3 5 gallon corny kegs or 1 1/2 barrel.

https://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/kegerators/dualkegerator/Kegco_K199B-2.shtml
 
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