Karl here. Somewhere along the line I discovered that serving beer is cool.
People like beer. It is fun to talk about, drink, and for some folks, brew. Beer joins together friends and cultures. Sometimes beer eases the awkwardness of family gatherings. (But too much beer combined with family gatherings contributes to job security in the psychiatric emergency room.)
In December I started kegging my home brew in five gallon quantities. I have been brewing on my own since January 2010 when my dad officially initiated me into the home brew club. He had been brewing since his Lutheran seminary days and had lots of wisdom to offer. The problem is that I hate bottling the beer. Cleaning. Sanitizing. Filling. Yuck. I learned later on that I could serve the kegged beer on tap.
Presenting. The. Kegerator.
I watched some of the tutorials on how to build this beast and, in fact, I just upgraded to a bigger one. I needed to find a good chest freezer that would allow for several 5-gallon kegs to fit. I looked at craigslist and found that there were many chest freezers in the $100 range that were 10 years old while others were $250-300 and almost new. Since the efficiency of freezers has increased dramatically in the last ten years, I decided to look at the newer ones. Each freezer has an estimated annual energy cost and the one I settled on was something like $50.
But nobody likes frozen beer so I modified the freezer thermostat to make it a fridge. On the freezer I modified earlier this year I bought a refrigerator thermostat and took out the freezer thermostat. The thermostat is the device in the photo below with the coil wrapped around it. The result was a dial that changed the temp from 33-49 degrees instead of a dial that kept temperatures below freezing. On the newer chest freezer from this month I did some reading to find out that the freezer thermostat has a little screw that can change the temperatures into the fridge range. After a few days of tinkering with that screw (I ended up turning the “coarse adjustment” screw 3.5x clockwise) I now have good beer temps!
I also had to build a collar out of 2×8 boards. No biggie. I screwed the ends together and added some caulk adhesive to seal the gaps. I glued it to the freezer earlier this year. On this month’s device, I used weather stripping because I suspect we may need a freezer down the line and I no longer obsess over beer like I do now.
The final step was to drill holes for taps and order some kegs. While I don’t have any home brew on tap right now, I do have some commercial brews ready for guests. I will have home brew later this fall when fermentation temperatures become more stable.
Now I have delicious tap beer in my own backyard. I open the door to the shed and the kegerator is a beaming source of goodness for all guests to see. Maybe this time I have found something that qualifies as cool (but I’m still gonna wear my retainer each night)!