Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

A forum to discuss the various ways of getting beer into your glass.
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PeeBee
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Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by PeeBee » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:34 pm

"Kegerators" seem to be all the rage at the moment. Stick on a ITC308 (or whatever) and you are serving beer at whatever temperature you please.

But as I found out, they need a bit of space. Under-counter ones have limited capacity (if you can get a keg in at all). The tall "larder" type need a bit of headroom. Chest freezers need quite a large floor space (relative to the kegs they'll contain) and also probably need modifying to provide the headroom for kegs. I wanted to cram my "bar" into the space below the stairs so kegerators were just out of the question. Various ideas of ripping the guts out of a fridge or freezer and rebuilding them into a custom space all seemed a bit too drastic and involved. The other disadvantage is all the beer ends up the same temperature, not useful when most of the beer is served 13-14C yet some continental styles might want to be 9-10C. So I came up with this solution:

First I needed a "counter chiller" like the Cornelius "Maxi". Fairly readily available second-hand on EBay, so I ended up with two (one controls my fermenting temperature). The chiller provides "python" lines which I could use to feed cooling coils on the kegs. The harder bit was fitting the coils along with insulation. The insulation is neoprene foam (like used on wetsuits). There are three turns of PVC cooling coil around the Cornelius kegs arranged such that I can feed a single coil, a double coil, or link the two coils up to make a triple coil (selecting the number of coils to fit the amount of cooling required). Gluing the neoprene on in the right place is quite forgiving as the material easily bends, stretches or compresses. But the contact adhesive used... :out
20171219_105308.jpg
10-12mm neoprene was used as "spacers" between the PVC coils. A 6mm thick neoprene sheet then finishes it all off. Not too costly, except: I was converting 10 kegs and the total cost was significant (about £9-10 each keg). Quite a lot of work, and no doubt a bit damaging to brain cells (all that glue!). The Maxi will be turned on and off with a timer switch, increasing "on" time as temperatures rise. Now I'll have to wait until Summer to try it for real.

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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:06 pm

I have a similar project in mind. It's a bit like a jockey box that never moves, but I am using 4& 5L mini kegs. Still unsure about whether to use the maxi cooler,or to dig out the solar pump and use frozen PET bottles ant a water bath

I have a maxi cooler as well

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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:13 pm

Image

A bit like this. Insulation later.

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Re: Alternative to

Post by PeeBee » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:26 pm

TheSumOfAllBeers wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:13 pm
... A bit like this. Insulation later.
That's like my original plan, but was diverted off by someone who did this sort of thing and pointed out that you don't need many turns. The coolest I'll ever want is 9-10C but I'm not sure yet if three turns (with 16-18mm of insulation) will be enough? But by enough I mean only running the cooler for 15mins every 2-3 hours.

And what tubing is that? Remember this is on the "python" circuit pumping any old water. You can choose the cheapest PVC tube as it will never come in contact with beer.

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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:02 pm

It's 3/8 beer line. Had a huge roll of it in the house. The high amount of lines is more for making a robust scaffold that I can attach insulation to. The plan is that the kegs get changed rather than every keg getting clad, and I may need more coils anyway because I won't have perfect contact.

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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by Kev888 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:24 pm

This isn't too dissimilar to the idea behind mobile cask coolers. Shelf (or under-counter) coolers can be rather noisier than fridges, but it certainly works well enough, especially if the connecting pipes are insulated. Its also good for inconveniently sized kegs, which don't fit nicely in the keggerator.

Some of the designs for casks have a sort of saddle rather than complete tube/spiral of cooling hose, so that the cask can easily be taken away or swapped out without needing hoses disconnected. IIRC theres also a sort of zip-up jacket for corny kegs (I think by some US manufacturer), which can be zipped off for similar reasons.
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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by PeeBee » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:03 pm

Kev888 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:24 pm
This isn't too dissimilar to the idea behind mobile cask coolers. Shelf (or under-counter) coolers can be rather noisier than fridges, but it certainly works well enough, especially if the connecting pipes are insulated. Its also good for inconveniently sized kegs, which don't fit nicely in the keggerator.

Some of the designs for casks have a sort of saddle rather than complete tube/spiral of cooling hose, so that the cask can easily be taken away or swapped out without needing hoses disconnected. IIRC theres also a sort of zip-up jacket for corny kegs (I think by some US manufacturer), which can be zipped off for similar reasons.
True. It was actually Kyle on that "other forum" that recommended less turns - he'd bodge together temporary "cask coolers" for the annual "Festival".

But as for a removable cooler setup: I'm a sucker for uniformity and when you've got a stash of second-hand Cornelius kegs from different sources complete with random marks and dents the opportunity to cover them all up in thick neoprene couldn't be missed. My partner thinks I've got a bit of a rubber fetish, but she won't allow me to coat her in Bostic and cover her in neoprene.

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Re: Alternative to

Post by jaroporter » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:24 pm

TheSumOfAllBeers wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:02 pm
It's 3/8 beer line. Had a huge roll of it in the house. The high amount of lines is more for making a robust scaffold that I can attach insulation to. The plan is that the kegs get changed rather than every keg getting clad, and I may need more coils anyway because I won't have perfect contact.
cool to see how you get on with that. i planned the exact same thing but just got frustrated with trying to keep the beerline in shape while changing kegs. but then i was also obsessing over maximum contact of the line with the keg which definitely impacted my design
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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by Kev888 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:42 pm

PeeBee wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:03 pm
But as for a removable cooler setup: I'm a sucker for uniformity and when you've got a stash of second-hand Cornelius kegs from different sources complete with random marks and dents the opportunity to cover them all up in thick neoprene couldn't be missed. My partner thinks I've got a bit of a rubber fetish, but she won't allow me to coat her in Bostic and cover her in neoprene.
Heh, well each to their own and all that!

If you are intending to frequently connect/disconnect the coolant hoses, then some means of easily monitoring the cooler's reservoir level may be worthwhile. It may also be worth checking for airlocks after reconnecting things; the maxi pumps aren't all that forceful and can be defeated by airlocks combined with a long run, or if runs are in parallel some kegs may see recirculation whilst others with an airlock wouldn't. This occurred with the coolant circuits around my FV, anyway.
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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by PeeBee » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:00 pm

Kev888 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:42 pm
... If you are intending to frequently connect/disconnect the coolant hoses, then some means of easily monitoring the cooler's reservoir level may be worthwhile. It may also be worth checking for airlocks after reconnecting things; the maxi pumps aren't all that forceful and can be defeated by airlocks combined with a long run, or if runs are in parallel some kegs may see recirculation whilst others with an airlock wouldn't. This occurred with the coolant circuits around my FV, anyway.
Yeap, note the taps on the kegs to retain the cooling water in the coils (the tops are well above the cooler). And I don't connect and disconnect that frequently anyway - how much beer do you think I'm drinking! :beer:

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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by PeeBee » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:02 pm

Here's a useful little tip. As I said earlier, the "alternative" being discussed here is because of lack of room, especially headroom. But in a lapse of concentration I'd checked there was enough space to put the kegs in their places under the stairs, but neglected to solve how I was going to get them there. So here's a piccie of one of the last kegs to be modified:
20171220_171316.jpg
20171220_171316.jpg (53.89 KiB) Viewed 265 times
Ignore the new spunding valves I'm playing with. It's that three wheeled "dolly" next to the keg. The kegs sit on them nicely without modification (they fit in the recess of the rubber moulding). And they are then no bother to position under the stairs (with some care, they are a bit top heavy to push far).

Got them off Amazon. There was these and some near identical ones from Silverline. 4 or 5 quid each. The crick in my neck from moving the kegs without the dollies should wear off soon.

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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:11 pm

A £25 platform truck would let you move the lot too, it's another option

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Re: Alternative to

Post by PeeBee » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:14 am

TheSumOfAllBeers wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:11 pm
A £25 platform truck would let you move the lot too, it's another option
Sounds big. If I had such space I wouldn't be discussing any of this. Here's a diagram so you can see how tight things are:
Bar 2.jpg

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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by Fil » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:13 pm

That set up looks VERY familiar..

what i started with..
Image

and how it ended up.. (i had 15mm on each side to fit cladding and insulation, 10mm stand off batons 3mm marine ply, and bubblewrap/mylar diy composite layer insulation ) it didnt help being quite windy when insulating.. (back wall, floor, and ceiling have 50mm polystyrene layers..)
Image

Im having a 'cant see wood for the trees' moment this end.. So forgive me asking but rather than run a shelf chiller 24/7 and maintain cold kegs wouldnt it be easier to simply use the chiller as intended? I have found that for my needs a maxi 310 hold sufficient cold in its waterbath at 0C without any ice wall as im never serving at a city pub rush hour (consecutive pints) rate.. So it only takes 30 minutes or so to chill down the waterbath ready to serve an evenings pint or 4..

If your under the stairs position is closed in i would keep a very close eye on things, I have found that if i run my chiller mid summer with the door closed on the beer cellar (ex coalshed/ washing machine cupboard) it can raise the internal temp to 40C in no time at all due to the chillers heat exhaust.
ist update for months n months..
Fermnting: not a lot..
Conditioning: nowt
Maturing: Challenger smash, and a kit lager
Drinking: dry one minikeg left in the store
Coming Soon Lots planned for the near future nowt for the immediate :(

Fil
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Re: Alternative to "kegerators" and the like

Post by Fil » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:13 pm

That set up looks VERY familiar..

what i started with..
Image

and how it ended up.. (i had 15mm on each side to fit cladding and insulation, 10mm stand off batons 3mm marine ply, and bubblewrap/mylar diy composite layer insulation ) it didnt help being quite windy when insulating.. (back wall, floor, and ceiling have 50mm polystyrene layers..)
Image

Im having a 'cant see wood for the trees' moment this end.. So forgive me asking but rather than run a shelf chiller 24/7 and maintain cold kegs wouldnt it be easier to simply use the chiller as intended? I have found that for my needs a maxi 310 hold sufficient cold in its waterbath at 0C without any ice wall as im never serving at a city pub rush hour (consecutive pints) rate.. So it only takes 30 minutes or so to chill down the waterbath ready to serve an evenings pint or 4..

If your under the stairs position is closed in i would keep a very close eye on things, I have found that if i run my chiller mid summer with the door closed on the beer cellar (ex coalshed/ washing machine cupboard) it can raise the internal temp to 40C in no time at all due to the chillers heat exhaust.
ist update for months n months..
Fermnting: not a lot..
Conditioning: nowt
Maturing: Challenger smash, and a kit lager
Drinking: dry one minikeg left in the store
Coming Soon Lots planned for the near future nowt for the immediate :(

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