Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Draft Beer at the Homestead.

If you want, you can purchase a kegerator from any number of locations. However, if you haven't figured it out by now, that's just not my way. I endeavored to give my beer dispensing refrigerator a bit of home brew style much like the beverage I hope to create for it one day. Turns out, the hardest part of the process was finding a suitable chiller. Most mini fridges these days are designed with the cooling element at the top and the compressor at the rear-bottom of the inner compartment. This arrangement is not conducive to the measurements of a 1/4 barrel keg. Fortunately, I found just the right model at Walmart online. (Danby Mini Fridge Model# DAR440BL). You'll need it shipped to a store near you. It had a flat cooling plate oriented along the backside of the interior. However, a bit of modification was still needed to ensure the proper opening.

I began by removing the plastic injection molded panel from the inside of the door. An electric screwdriver made short work of this. Needing to maintain the suddenly absent vapor barrier, I cut a sheet of 1/8" lexan to size and drilled the appropriate holes. Looking back, I really should have done something to cover the visually exposed insulation in the door. But it's on the inside so it really doesn't matter that much to me. Now that I had the required interior dimensions, it was time to create an opening for the liquid hose and design up a riser/keg tower to house the tap and shank. I like the industrial look of cast iron pipe and thought it appropriate given the nature of what I was building. And the flanges were convenient because they terminated the pipe nicely as well as provided a great connection point to the fridge and shank adapter. At 3/4", the pipe was wide enough to snugly fit both the 1/4" clear plastic tubing and 1/4" foam insulation. Gotta keep that beer cool.

I had the round white shank adapter machined as more a placeholder than permanent design element. Though I've come to like it. It's clean and makes a good transition between the pipe and faucet. My original thought was to create an electronic display using that space. It would house readouts for temperature and remaining beer. I'll make that one day but not until I finish a couple other projects on the drawing board. At the moment, having ice cold beer on tap is good enough for me.