[Newbie] Beer dispenser

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mikemelga
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[Newbie] Beer dispenser

Post by mikemelga » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:53 am

Hi everyone :)

I am new to this forum and I know absolutely nothing about the beer brewing world.
I ended up here because I am making some remodeling on my house and I am building an outside bar (kinda).
I bought an used Cornelius Maxi 110 which I guess is enough for my needs and during my searches for guides and experiences this site always came up :)

So... could you please help a complete newbie?

My goal is to assemble a fully working beer dispenser. I will be using commercial craft beer and I have some questions that I could use your advice:

1 - My Maxi 110 does not have any temperature regulator (that I see). What is default temperature output?

2 - I need to buy a CO2 Regulator. Any advice on brands or where to buy?

3 - I need to buy a faucet. Any advice ?

4 - Which lines should I use? 3/8" or 3/16"? I heard that using 3/16 works as a pressure reducer. Is this right?


I read somewhere that you could additionally chill the beer by having it pass through the recirc line. Isn't the
recirc line filled with water?


Any help would be most welcome :)

Thanks

Regards,
Mike

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Kev888
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Re: [Newbie] Beer dispenser

Post by Kev888 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:52 am

Hello, and welcome!

1. Most maxi coolers have a pre-set temperature, around freezing (though some use a food-safe form of glycol to allow them to go colder). They can be bought with different lengths of product (beer) coil as a crude form of controlling their cooling effect or to a degree the rate at which beer is run through when serving can affect it. Though one can DIY alterations if required.

2. I can't help with specifics, as haven't bought a regulator for a while. But make sure it is a beer regulator with adjustable pressure - some are designed to control flow rate rather than pressure (e.g. for welding) so have the wrong sort of gauges and some may have no pressure relief valves for safety. Particularly important if buying beer in containers without built in PRVs.

3. You can get posh towers (e.g. this style) right down to cheap plastic dalex taps or even party/portable taps (e.g. this) that you hold by hand. As you can see, a huge range in budget possibilities, sometimes they come up used on ebay too. Some come with flow control adjusters, which can help fine-tune the dispense rate.

4. 3/8" is fine for gas line unless you need it to be very flexible. For short runs with beer line then yes 3/16" is much better even though adaptors may be needed. It has a tiny bore which heavily restricts the flow, causing pressure to drop significantly along its length whilst dispensing, a couple/few meters will often be sufficient. Attempting to balance the line with 3/8" instead might require dozens of meters for a similar effect. The reason for balancing the line restriction to the keg pressure is partly to avoid excessive flow rate and partly to gradually reduce pressure towards the tap, excesses of either can cause foaming.

5. The recirc lines are indeed for water, not beer. They are designed to recirculate water through lines bundled with beer lines within insulation (python lines) and so keep the beer from warming up in the line. Aside from the beer being warmer in the glass, warmer beer doesn't retain CO2 as well, so this can try to come out, causing foam in the lines. Though you may not need this if the beer lines are short or the weather not too hot.

Hope thats a useful overview anyway,
cheers
Kev

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mikemelga
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Re: [Newbie] Beer dispenser

Post by mikemelga » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:16 pm

Kev,

Thanks a lot for your help!

I think I have already a basic idea on how everything should come together. So... correct me if I am wrong:

1- I will test the temperature and see if it needs additional freezing. If it needs, the DIY you mention is something like connecting an STC1000 thermostat like this one? (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/12-24-220V-S ... 3309682985)

2- Thanks! I will look for those features: pressure gauges, adjustable pressure and pressure release valves.

3- I will be making my own tower. Since my bar will be outside I prefer to make a custom stainless steel tower. All I need is the faucet and it's adaptors. Something like this? https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Adjustable-D ... 1693504256

4- So I will use 3/8" for gas and will test 3/8" and 3/16" for beer. Both beer lines and gas lines will be short. I guess 60cm to 1 meter max.

5- I did not know about those python lines. I'll try to get some info on that. Thanks!

Thanks again for your help! :)

Regards from Portugal

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Kev888
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Re: [Newbie] Beer dispenser

Post by Kev888 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:05 pm

No worries:

1 - Yes the STC (or similar) can replace the maxi's thermostat. Unless the current thermostat is breaking/broken (which isn't uncommon), normally with a standard water maxi there will already be ice form around the edge of the cold bath. But you may wish it warmer for traditional ales, or for very cold lagers there is a possibility of adding non-toxic glycol as an antifreeze to allow setting a temperature somewhat below freezing.

3 - sadly I've no personal experience of that particular tap/faucet, although the configuration is fairly common. Possibly others will be able to say something about it, or make more specific recommendations.

4 - the length of line would ideally be based on the keg pressure rather than cut to the shortest length to reach. There are ways of calculating it, but you can also just experiment (cutting progressively shorter until the flow rate is just sufficient for a sensible pour). At those sort of lengths, I would only really consider 3/16" for the beer line (unless short bits of 3/8" were needed to fit/adapt into coupler or tap); 3/8" is just too free flowing to offer any useful restriction unless much longer.

5 - the python lines are really just a bundle of beer lines plus an extra pair for the recirculation (there and back), wrapped in pipe insulation (such as armaflex) and sometimes PVC tape wrapped over the top to hold it all in. For one or two short lines on a maxi110 it would be fairly easy to make your own up if necessary - with 3/16" line(s) for the beer and two 3/8" lines for the recirc.

Cheers,
Kev

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mikemelga
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Re: [Newbie] Beer dispenser

Post by mikemelga » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:17 pm

Kev,

Thanks again. I guess you covered all my doubts.
I'll let you know how it goes :)

One last stupid question: How do I empty the water bath of the maxi? Do I just lean the machine for it do exit via the overflow or is there any easier way?

Regards

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Kev888
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Re: [Newbie] Beer dispenser

Post by Kev888 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:44 pm

Apparently it isn't good to run fridges too soon after they've been on their side, the maxi works in the same way so I guess it would be quite similar. In general I try to avoid tipping them up at all, just to be doubly safe, and instead syphon the majority of water out.

There are very few occasions where it actually needs emptying though. The gunky state of some of the ex-pub ones I've had suggest they've probably been topped up and nothing more since installation.
Kev

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Re: [Newbie] Beer dispenser

Post by mikemelga » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:02 pm

Ok. Better to leave it alone :)

Thanks!

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