Building a keezer, a freezer converted into a beer keg dispenser, can be an incredibly rewarding project for beer enthusiasts. A keezer maintains your homebrew or commercial kegs at perfect serving temperatures, making it a superior option for beer storage and dispensing. This guide provides comprehensive instructions on how to build a keezer, allowing you to enjoy your favorite beverages at their finest.
The DIY task of creating a keezer may seem daunting, but with some basic tools and guidance, you can build a personalized beer dispensing system. Not only does a keezer provide an efficient way to enjoy your beer, but it also adds an appealing feature to your bar or entertainment area. So, whether you’re a craft beer aficionado or a homebrewing champion, read on to understand how to build a keezer that suits your needs.
How to Build a Keezer
Choosing the Right Chest Freezer
The foundation of your keezer is the chest freezer. It’s essential to choose a chest freezer that suits your space, storage, and serving needs. Size is the primary factor; it needs to accommodate the number of kegs you plan to use, plus the additional components. For example, a 5 to 7 cubic feet freezer is ideal for storing two to three 5-gallon kegs.
Beyond size, other factors to consider when choosing your chest freezer include energy efficiency, noise level, and brand reputation. You may also want to consider if the freezer has a lock, particularly if you have children or live in a shared space. Lastly, consider whether the freezer is manual or automatic defrost—manual is usually preferred for a keezer to avoid temperature fluctuations.
Proper Keg Storage and Keg Types
Proper keg storage is crucial in maintaining your beer’s flavor and carbonation. Kegs should always be stored upright and refrigerated to keep the beer fresh. Overexposure to high temperatures or drastic temperature changes can affect the beer’s taste and quality.
Understanding the different types of kegs available will also help in setting up your keezer. Cornelius kegs, or “Corny” kegs, are a popular choice for homebrewers. Originally used by the soft drink industry, they’re easy to open, clean, and fill, making them a convenient choice for home use.
However, if you’re planning to serve commercial or draft beer, you might need a Sankey keg, which requires a different tapping system.
Building a keezer requires several components. Apart from the chest freezer and kegs, you’ll need a temperature controller to maintain your beer at the ideal temperature. This is crucial because beer served too cold can numb the flavors, while beer served too warm can be flat and tasteless.
Next, you’ll need a CO2 tank and regulator. The CO2 provides the necessary pressure to push the beer out of the keg and through the lines, while the regulator allows you to adjust the pressure to the correct level for your specific beer style.
Other components include beer lines, gas lines, faucets, and a drip tray. You may also consider optional accessories like a tower cooler to keep your beer lines cool, a fan for improved air circulation inside the keezer, and a dehumidifier to reduce moisture buildup.
Temperature Control and Monitoring
Temperature control in a keezer is critical. Beer is a delicate product that requires a specific temperature range for optimal taste. Most beers are best served between 38°F and 42°F. To maintain this temperature range, an external temperature controller is a must.
Temperature controllers like the Inkbird ITC-308 or the Johnson Controls A419 are popular options. These controllers override the freezer’s thermostat, allowing it to maintain temperatures above its normal freezing range. They are easy to install, reliable, and affordable.
In addition to the temperature controller, it’s wise to have a separate thermometer to independently verify the temperature. This will give you peace of mind that your controller is working correctly and your beer is being stored at the right temperature.
Assembling the Keezer Collar
The collar is an integral part of a keezer. It provides a way to install faucets without drilling into the freezer body, and it adds extra height for larger kegs or additional kegs. To make a collar, you’ll need lumber, typically 2x6s or 2x8s, depending on how much extra height you need.
Measure the outside dimensions of your freezer and cut your lumber accordingly. You’ll want to build a rectangle that fits snugly around the top of the freezer. Join the corners using wood screws, and then seal the inside seams with silicone to prevent cold air from escaping.
Once you’ve constructed the collar, you can stain or paint it to match your freezer or give it a customized look. When the collar is ready, attach it to the freezer using silicone adhesive. Let it dry thoroughly before moving on to the next step.
Installing Taps and Faucets
Once the collar is securely attached to the freezer, you can begin installing your faucets. First, decide how many taps you want. The number of taps usually corresponds to the number of kegs you plan to keep in your keezer, but you can install extra taps for future expansion or to dispense other things, like soda or cold-brew coffee.
Use a hole saw to drill holes into the front of the collar for your taps. The size of the hole will depend on the size of your shanks. Once the holes are drilled, you can insert the shanks and attach the faucets. Make sure everything is tightly sealed to prevent any leaks.
Gas and Liquid Lines Setup
Setting up your gas and liquid lines correctly is crucial for proper keezer operation. The gas line carries CO2 from the tank and regulator into your kegs to maintain pressure. The liquid lines carry the beer from the kegs to the faucets.
When setting up your lines, the lengths are important. Beer lines should be long enough to provide resistance to the flow of beer, preventing it from being dispensed too quickly and foaming up. On the other hand, the gas lines can be shorter since CO2 pressure doesn’t need resistance.
When attaching the lines, use hose clamps to ensure a tight seal on all connections. Check for leaks by spraying all connections with a mixture of water and dish soap. Any leaks will cause bubbles to form.
Finishing Touches for the Keezer
With your keezer operational, it’s time to add the finishing touches. The aesthetic appeal of your keezer can enhance the overall beer drinking experience. Consider giving your keezer a custom paint job or adding decals to represent your favorite breweries.
The tap handles are another area where you can showcase your style. From basic black plastic to custom designs, there’s a tap handle to suit every taste. You can even find tap handles that can be written on with chalk or dry-erase marker, so you can easily identify what’s on tap.
LED Lighting and Accessories
LED lighting is a popular addition to keezers. Not only does it add visual appeal, but it also helps you see what’s inside without having to open the lid. LED lights are energy-efficient and come in a variety of colors and styles.
Consider adding a strip of LED lights around the inside of the collar, or use an adhesive-backed strip to attach the lights to the inside wall of the freezer. Some LED light strips can even be controlled remotely or programmed to change colors.
Beyond lighting, there are other accessories you might consider for your keezer. A drip tray installed beneath the taps will catch any spills, keeping your keezer clean and dry. A fan inside the keezer can help circulate the cold air, ensuring a consistent temperature throughout. You could also think about adding a lock to the lid if you need to secure your keezer, especially in a shared or public space.
Cleaning and Maintenance of a Keezer
Maintaining your keezer is as crucial as setting it up correctly. Regular cleaning ensures the quality and taste of your beer, prevents any potential issues like mold and mildew, and prolongs the life of your equipment.
First, the lines that deliver the beer from the keg to the faucet need to be cleaned every time you change a keg or at least once a month. Line cleaning kits are available, which include a hand pump, connector, and cleaning solution. These allow you to force the cleaning solution through your system, removing any yeast, sugar, or sediment build-up.
Regularly defrosting the freezer is also an important maintenance step. Over time, frost builds up in the freezer, reducing its efficiency and taking up valuable keg space. To defrost, simply turn off the freezer, remove your kegs, and allow the frost to melt. Make sure to place towels inside the freezer to absorb the water.
Lastly, inspect your keezer regularly for any wear and tear or leaks. This includes checking the condition of your CO2 tank and regulator, the seals on your kegs, and all of the connections in your gas and beer lines. Catching small problems early can prevent bigger issues down the road.
How to Build a Keezer FAQ
What components are needed for building a keezer?
The primary components needed for building a keezer are a chest freezer, kegs, temperature controller, CO2 tank and regulator, beer lines, gas lines, faucets, and a collar. Depending on your specific requirements and preferences, you might also need items like a drip tray, tower cooler, fan, dehumidifier, LED lights, and custom tap handles.
How do you construct a keezer collar?
A keezer collar is made from lumber, usually 2x6s or 2x8s, cut to fit the outside dimensions of the freezer. The pieces are joined together with wood screws to form a rectangle, and the inside seams are sealed with silicone. The collar can be stained or painted, then attached to the freezer using silicone adhesive.
Which temperature controller is best for controlling keezer temperature?
Popular choices for keezer temperature controllers include the Inkbird ITC-308 and the Johnson Controls A419. These external controllers override the freezer’s thermostat, allowing it to maintain temperatures above its normal freezing range. Both are easy to install, reliable, and affordable.
How do you connect a keezer kit to the main setup?
Connecting a keezer kit to the main setup involves setting up the gas and liquid lines. The gas line, connected to the CO2 tank and regulator, delivers CO2 into the kegs to maintain pressure. The liquid lines carry the beer from the kegs to the faucets. It’s crucial to ensure all connections are tightly sealed to prevent leaks.
What are the pros and cons of keezer vs kegerator?
A keezer typically has a larger capacity than a kegerator, allowing it to hold more or larger kegs. It also tends to have better insulation, keeping your beer cooler. On the other hand, a kegerator is usually more compact and may fit better in smaller spaces. Keezers require a temperature controller, whereas kegerators are designed to hold beer at the right temperature.
What is the estimated cost to build a keezer?
The cost of building a keezer can vary widely depending on the specific components you choose. A basic setup with a small chest freezer, a couple of used kegs, and basic taps might cost around $500. A larger, more elaborate setup with a new freezer, multiple new kegs, premium taps, and accessories like a drip tray, tower cooler, and LED lighting could easily exceed $1,000.
In conclusion, understanding how to build a keezer and maintaining it properly allows beer enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite brews at the optimal temperature and freshness. While it does involve an initial investment of time and money, the results are rewarding, offering not just excellent tasting beer, but also a unique, personalized feature in your home or entertainment area. As you continue your journey in beer appreciation, the knowledge of how to build a keezer will prove invaluable.
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