kegs: if you had it to do over again ...

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JWHooper

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I don't want to bottle beer, so I want a simple keg system. Oh yeah, and I want it as cheap as possible, of course. I mean, not THAT cheap, I can maybe spend a few hundred $$$.

I know nothing about this. I figure the more taps the better. I might also want a tap for pop for the kids. For variety, at least two beers. So at least three taps.

Extract brewing is about as ambitious as I'm likely to get ... but you never know.

If you were me, only with your experience, what would you do at this beginning stage of the game?
 

billtzk

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If you enjoy brewing the odds are fair that you'll eventually want to brew all-grain, but whether you do that or stick with extracts, I think it is much more likely that you'll want more than two beers on tap down the road. If you can build a keezer or kegerator with space for four to six taps, you can start with just two and expand later on.

On the other hand, you won't likely regret a decision to keep it small and have only two brews on tap. Any amount of homebrew on tap or in bottles is better than none!
 

billtzk

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I don't agree BigKahuna. He said he could spend a few hundred. You can buy a kit with a keg, bottle, reg, beer line, and party tap for under $200. Keg Connection has nice kits with one to three kegs for $168 to $279, and if you piecemeal it all or get some stuff on Craig's list (like an old fridge, for example) you can do better than that.
 
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JWHooper

JWHooper

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I don't agree BigKahuna. He said he could spend a few hundred. You can buy a kit with a keg, bottle, reg, beer line, and party tap for under $200. Keg Connection has nice kits with one to three kegs for $168 to $279, and if you piecemeal it all or get some stuff on Craig's list (like an old fridge, for example) you can do better than that.
Yeah, that's what I want. I'm just not sure what I should get cheap and what is better purchased as a kit or something. There's a local guy who sells the corny kegs for around $20 - $25. Is there any type of freezer or refrigerator that is better, like a chest or side-by-side? Then there is the whole CO2 setup.

I thought I would get a cheap fridge/freezer, the corny kegs ... but then I don't know. I don't know how to do the taps or CO2 setup.
 

Finn

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Nah, you can get into kegging for under $250. Regulator, $75; tubing, ball-lock gas supplies and two picnic taps, about $30; crappy used fridge off Craigslist, $50; two Cornies, $50. There's the CO2 bottle, of course, but you get that back later when you "trade it in" for the last time.

OK, maybe I should say under $300.
 
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JWHooper

JWHooper

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So, since I already have an extra fridge, and SWMBO won't get upset so long as I don't go drilling through it, I could just put the corny kegs inside with picnic taps, CO2 tank, regulator ...

They will take up some space in the extra fridge, but not all of it. Eventually I can get something that I can drill on and put in taps, without losing any investment. This sounds do-able.
 

billtzk

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Yes, that'll work, and lots of people do that until they brew a beer that enchants SWMBO so much that she instructs you to drill the damn holes already. Actually, a lot of people do that as a final solution.

Two kegs will consume probably half the space in a typical fridge, and you'll have to remove all the shelves since the kegs have to sit upright. Might as well drill the holes.
 

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I bought a two keg system. I have an apartment sized fridge, and it holds two kegs and the co2 tank. I have picnic taps on them, and it works fine. I wish it was a full sized fridge, though- I'd love to have three or four on tap, instead of just two. I bought the system, with an extra keg right at the start. The only thing I added was four more kegs (bought from a vendor here at HBT for around $90).

If I had it to do over, I would have tried harder to get a chest freezer and ranco controller. I think for about the same amount of cash (used freezer of course- the fridge is used) I could have gone the keezer route, gradually adding faucets and a collar. I still haven't drilled the side of the fridge for the faucets but that is my plan.
 
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JWHooper

JWHooper

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I see plenty of cheap chest freezers on Craigslist in my area. It sounds like the smart thing to do would be to buy a full size chest freezer that would allow for maximum expansion. I'll look at the "keezer" threads for more info.
 

mrfocus

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Btw, if you do end up getting the chest freezer, try and keep it pretty full, as the compressor won't turn on as often (you can put 2 liter coke bottles filled with water).

This might seem obvious to you, but you have a better chance of keeping your freezer for longer if you do this (less compressor wear).
 

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I am not kegging right now, but I am researching as much as possible.

Once way I see to save $$ is to buy those corny's locally to save on shipping and buy the 2-3 tap kits without corny's.

Look over the keg sites for awhile. I am liking keg connection right now.

Plus, if my understanding is correct you can upgrade a 2 tap kit with another air distributor. Therefore, buy what you think is the least number of taps you need and then upgrade when you think you need to.

If you think you will brew a lot of beer, couldn't you age in the corny then put it on tap when you finish the current brew? Aged beer waiting sounds like a better option than a green beer on tap.
 

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I have three kegs and a carboy in my small keezer. I put a collar on it to allow the carboy to sit on the hump. I just use picnic taps, gives me exercise lifting the lid to get some brew!
 
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JWHooper

JWHooper

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Btw, if you do end up getting the chest freezer, try and keep it pretty full, as the compressor won't turn on as often (you can put 2 liter coke bottles filled with water).

This might seem obvious to you, but you have a better chance of keeping your freezer for longer if you do this (less compressor wear).
That's a good tip, I wouldn't have thought of that. Maybe a medium sized chest freezer would be best, not a huge one. This is a great hobby!
 

janzik

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I've been thinking the chest freezer w/collar route with 4 or 5 taps. Would you go with the fridge conversion kit:

4 Faucet Refrigerator Conversion Kit, 4 kegs

The shanks(?) seem pretty long (I'm assuming to go through the thick door of a fridge)..

or

4 Keg Basic Keg Kit, Dispenses Four kegs at once! (Seperate Check Valves!)

...and upgrade the faucets (to Perlick's(?))

So one of those kits, a chest freezer, the needed wood/parts for the collar and a controller to override the thermostat (I'd prefer not to go the BobbyM route and hack into the existing wiring). Would there be anything else needed? If I go the second (picnic tap) kit and get the better faucets, which ones should I get (assuming price is generally not a problem).

Is there anything in those kits you would upgrade?
What if I wanted to put a 5th tap on later?
 

Professor Frink

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I have a 4 kegger from a 7 cu. ft. chest freezer. My only regret is not getting forward sealing faucets.
 

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So, since I already have an extra fridge, and SWMBO won't get upset so long as I don't go drilling through it, I could just put the corny kegs inside with picnic taps, CO2 tank, regulator ...
Yeah, this is exactly what I did. I bought the $199 dual keg setup from Midwest Supplies...two cornies, dual regulator, co2 tank, and picnic taps. Just stick the whole lot in fridge.

Of course, within two weeks I'd bought more cornies, a new chest freezer, and a bunch of perlick faucets...but that doesn't mean you'll do the same. :rolleyes:
 

Kevin Dean

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I got into kegging for under a hundred bucks. Be patient, keep your eyes open and you can do it quite cheaply. I got a (2 corney) kegerator, a shank/tap, drip tray, two CO2 tanks, and a regulator for $75 on craigslist. Not the sexiest of gear, but functional and cheap which was a huge plus.

After all of that, I have decided that I actually would prefer the variety that bottling allows, but I still went the kegging route and am probably a better brewer for it!

My only instant concern is that you mentioned wanting to put pop on tap for the kids (firstly, I love seeing "pop" and knew instantly you were from Michigan) and I think I recall that pops are carbonated at much higher pressures than beer, so you'd need a multi-regulator to handle the different pressures.

Maybe someone can chime in on that, I could totally be wrong.

Whatever you do, good luck!
 
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Of course, within two weeks I'd bought more cornies, a new chest freezer, and a bunch of perlick faucets...but that doesn't mean you'll do the same. :rolleyes:
I too bought a kit from Midwest...STUPID ME only got the 1 keg kit. It was pretty worthless, as I had no Fridge...so I ended up with an 8.8 cf whirlpool freezer with room for 5 kegs and the C02, 3 taps....Hoping Santa (or the great Pumpkin) brings me 2 more :p

and FYI...I keep Coke on tap for SWMBO, and it's at 9-12 PSI...depending on how i get the regulator set. It's not like it were straight out of a bottle, but it makes one hell of a rum and coke on ice.
 

StunnedMonkey

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...so I ended up with an 8.8 cf whirlpool freezer with room for 5 kegs and the C02, 3 taps....Hoping Santa (or the great Pumpkin) brings me 2 more :p
That's the same freezer I brought home last week. $268 at Lowes. My brother-in-law and I are building the collar tomorrow, and 5 faucets should be in hand by next weekend.

To the OP...you're headed this way. Don't fight it.
 

Chad

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So, since I already have an extra fridge, and SWMBO won't get upset so long as I don't go drilling through it, I could just put the corny kegs inside with picnic taps, CO2 tank, regulator ...

They will take up some space in the extra fridge, but not all of it. Eventually I can get something that I can drill on and put in taps, without losing any investment. This sounds do-able.
Yup, that's exactly what I do. I have an older side by side refrigerator/freezer in the garage. I pulled all of the shelves out of the fridge side except for the middle and the very top. I also took the shelving out of the door except for the bottom shelf and the very top. Two Cornelius kegs fit in the bottom half of the fridge. A fermentation bucket or carboy easily fits on the middle shelf. The top shelf in the fridge body holds 20-30lbs of grain. The bottom shelf in the door holds a 5lb CO2 tank that feeds both kegs. It'll also hold a 2L yeast starter next to the tank. The top shelf in the door holds yeast, dextrose, yeast nutrient, and other brew day necessities.

I drop it to its lowest setting (48°-50°) for fermenting lagers and bump it back up for actual lagering and chilling the kegs. The middle shelf is great for cold crashing ales if I don't have a lager in there.

The freezer side holds hops, several pork shoulders for smoking, pork fat for sausage making, bags of ice and whatever else won't fit in the main fridge in the house.

I use picnic taps because my wife, while willing to let me take over the second fridge, is not willing to put up with taps drilled into the door. The only trick is to slightly over carbonate the beer in the kegs, vent the kegs and drop to 8-10psi for serving pressure. My picnic taps are a little too short for true balancing, so unless I drop the pressure I get a lot of foam. I suppose I could get longer beer lines, but this works pretty well for the time being.

Chad
 
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JWHooper

JWHooper

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SWMBO is not so sure about letting me take over the second fridge now. We have two fridges and an upright freezer (and two teenaged boys to feed, so we need all the room apparently). Then again, she just loves Craigslist and buying stuff. It's like hunting to her. A fairly large chest freezer sounds best to me so far.

How hard is it to change the thermostat so that it chills properly instead of freezing?
 

MadDwarf

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Doesn't have to be all that large. The Magic Chef 7.2 cf freezer is only about 2 foot by 3 foot, and can hold 6 cornys plus a 5lb CO2 tank if you add an 8" collar.
 

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JWHooper

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Why not just get a refridgerator if you have to buy a $50 temperature control? I can get a Craigslist fridge $50 cheaper than a chest freezer anyway, and it will hold 6 cornies I bet.
 

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Your biggest problem will be dealing with soda pressure (35-40 psi) vs beer pressure. That means a dual regulator or a primary/secondary setup. The latter is a bit more complicated to setup, but less expensive.

Chest freezer vs fridge: My first kegger was a fridge. Whenever a keg in the back row blew, I had to take all the kegs out. With the freezer, I can load & unload without a problem. Better insulation, lower operating costs & more stable temperature.
 
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JWHooper

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Nevermind.

I just went to the microbrew tasting at the Michigan Renaissance fair. They had FOUR microbrew beers to taste (wow! what a great showing!). This is how I rate them:

Magic Hat #9: Definitely the best. It was bad. Bad beer. It sucked.
Shiner Bock: Second best. Not even close. Almost undrinkable swill.
Under My Kilt Wee Heavy: Tasted like what I would expect might come from under a kilt at a urinal from a sick dwarf. It sucked.
Dragonmead Tripple: This is what I would imagine yak piss would taste like after a few days in the sun with a maggot infested dead rat floating in it.

In the end, the whole experience put me off of making beer.

These are the best? They are at least experienced, and this is what they put out? My god, if this is what the big boys brew, my noob stuff would be Syrup of Ipecac -- instabarf.

I'll just wait for my wine.
 

flyangler18

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Magic Hat #9: Definitely the best. It was bad. Bad beer. It sucked.
Shiner Bock: Second best. Not even close. Almost undrinkable swill.
Under My Kilt Wee Heavy: Tasted like what I would expect might come from under a kilt at a urinal from a sick dwarf. It sucked.
Dragonmead Tripple: This is what I would imagine yak piss would taste like after a few days in the sun with a maggot infested dead rat floating in it.

In the end, the whole experience put me off of making beer.

These are the best? They are at least experienced, and this is what they put out? My god, if this is what the big boys brew, my noob stuff would be Syrup of Ipecac -- instabarf.
Those are all great tasting craft brews, all in very different styles. Why such the strong negative reaction?
 

StunnedMonkey

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Nevermind.

I just went to the microbrew tasting at the Michigan Renaissance fair. They had FOUR microbrew beers to taste (wow! what a great showing!). This is how I rate them:

Magic Hat #9: Definitely the best. It was bad. Bad beer. It sucked.
Shiner Bock: Second best. Not even close. Almost undrinkable swill.
Under My Kilt Wee Heavy: Tasted like what I would expect might come from under a kilt at a urinal from a sick dwarf. It sucked.
Dragonmead Tripple: This is what I would imagine yak piss would taste like after a few days in the sun with a maggot infested dead rat floating in it.

In the end, the whole experience put me off of making beer.

These are the best? They are at least experienced, and this is what they put out? My god, if this is what the big boys brew, my noob stuff would be Syrup of Ipecac -- instabarf.

I'll just wait for my wine.
Well, I'm not sure what your beer drinking background is (I see lots of wine in your list) but with the exception of the Shiner Bock, those beers tend towards a more specialty niche. Trippels, Scottish Ales...and whateverthehell Magic Hat #9 is supposed to be...those veer a bit off the "regular" path and might seem pretty odd to someone not accustomed to craft brews.

I'd suggest sampling a few normal Pale Ales as an intro to microbrews.
 
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JWHooper

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Those are all great tasting craft brews, all in very different styles. Why such the strong negative reaction?
Maybe I only like lagers. Maybe I don't really even like beer. I dunno.

All I know is that I enjoy my green yeasty Apfelwein more than those beers.

I usually just drink cheap beer like Milwaukees Best Ice.
 

flyangler18

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Hmm, I thinking maybe sampling some pale ales would be a good place to start. American Light Lagers are very light in flavor, and it sounds like your palate is just being overwhelmed.

Good luck!
 

StunnedMonkey

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Maybe I only like lagers....I usually just drink cheap beer like Milwaukees Best Ice.
Do you have Anchor Steam in your area? I'd not call Anchor a "micro" anymore, but Anchor Steam might be a good bridge between regular BMC and more aggressive craft beers.
 

flyangler18

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I'd not call Anchor a "micro" anymore, but Anchor Steam might be a good bridge between regular BMC and more aggressive craft beers.
Or perhaps a blonde ale- I sampled Beach Bum Blonde Ale yesterday at a rugby BBQ, and it was surprisingly tasty for an AB product.
 

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Maybe I only like lagers. Maybe I don't really even like beer. I dunno.......

I usually just drink cheap beer like Milwaukees Best Ice.
Houston... I think we found the problem...

I've not had the first two you listed, but the two Dragonmead brews (Under Kilt and Tripple) that I recognize are award winning beers for their styles. Fine examples of specialty craft brews... They are miles and miles away from Milwaukee's "Best" fizzy yellow water....
 

Finn

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Nevermind.

I just went to the microbrew tasting at the Michigan Renaissance fair. They had FOUR microbrew beers to taste (wow! what a great showing!). This is how I rate them:

Magic Hat #9: Definitely the best. It was bad. Bad beer. It sucked.
Shiner Bock: Second best. Not even close. Almost undrinkable swill.
Under My Kilt Wee Heavy: Tasted like what I would expect might come from under a kilt at a urinal from a sick dwarf. It sucked.
Dragonmead Tripple: This is what I would imagine yak piss would taste like after a few days in the sun with a maggot infested dead rat floating in it.

I'll just wait for my wine.
OK, so you've tried pretty decent examples of Belgian tripple (ew), strong Scotch ale (not for everyone; kind of tastes like carmelized shaggy dog at first), Bavarian bock and something called "#9" in which, it's a fair bet, the "9" refers to alcohol content. Plus, you got them at a renaissance fair, an event frequent by people who like rich, thick beer. For Chrissakes, man! These are expensive, hard-to-brew drinks in which steel forks stand up and plastic forks melt! You're going straight from a lawnmower lager to WHAT?!

Go down to the store and get yourself some more normal ales. A hefeweisen, a fruit ale, some English bitter or ESB (don't worry, it's not really bitter) and maybe some brown ales. See if you find something you like there. If not, well, pale American lager is hard to brew. There's noplace for off flavors to hide, if some wild yeast wanders over from your grape arbor and lands in your wort. And brewing lager takes all freakin' winter -- much easier to just buy it.

Good luck!

--Finn
 

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My $0.02.... and I know I'm a bit late to the party..... It sounds like you don't like beer. You don't mind the fizzy pale stuff, but not beer. So why not just do a cheap chest freezer, buy 2-3 cornies for serving Apfelwein fizzy and also some Soda for the kids, and then do 2 taps - 1 Apfelwein, 1 Soda, and then a 3rd tap for a keg of whatever Light beer you'd like to keep in it?

I mean this seriously, not condescendingly, .... but if you like traditional light american lagers, then you will probably wind up disappointed in homebrewing because none of the beers you brew in your inital learning stages are really light styles. You could do English Ordinary Bitters, or light American Pale Ales... but they're still going to be vastly different from a Milwaukees Best (And like I said, I'm NOT knocking it! I'm drinking a High Life Light as I type this.)

You would save money by buying Mil's Best or High Life or whatever you prefer, by the keg. You would be "treating the keg right" by dispensing it with CO2 and not Oxygen, and in doing so, you would keep the beer fresh / not oxidize it. And you'd be happy because you could serve Apfelwein and Soda both cold on-tap.

Just a thought. It sounds like you're taking the right attitude in figuring this out, though -- keeping realistic expectations, re-assessing the situation when you add new beer tasting to your repertoire... Best of luck to you mate! Just whatever you do, don't give up on the wine and the Apfelwein! Brew whatcha like! :D
 

Philip1993

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Yes, that'll work, and lots of people do that until they brew a beer that enchants SWMBO so much that she instructs you to drill the damn holes already. Actually, a lot of people do that as a final solution.
I used an old fridge for 7 years w/o drilling. I pulled the shelves (made my own, gained about 3") and stored them, put 4 kegs, gas bottle, and picnic taps inside. You know, in case I ever wanted to sell it or use it for food. Finally last month I owned the fact that the fridge would never get used for anything but beer and installed a faucet in the door.

Since someone asked earlier, I have a typical under/over refer/freezer. I pulled the factory shelving and built a two tier wood shelf and I can fit 6 cornies w/o the gas bottle inside or 5 with. I typically keep 4 kegs, 1 gas bottle, and some grains, hops, etc in there. If a back shelf corny needs to be changed, the one in front of it must come out, but only the one directly in front. Not a huge deal because they are flat on the refer floor and I have plenty of room to work the disconnects before I pull the keg.
 
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