Sunday, December 9, 2012

Building a Keezer

We've been brewing for a little over a year now, and we've decided to take the plunge and start kegging.  We bought some kegging equipment (2 used cornelius kegs, a CO2 bottle + dual regulator, and associated tubing) from a local homebrew store, and assembled a keezer (keg + freezer) over the course of a weekend.

Most keezers have homemade or purchased temperature controllers to keep it warmer than freezing, but we opted for a chest freezer that had a refrigeration option instead.  After 24 hours of being plugged in, we confirmed it stabilized around 40 F.  

Here's a materials list and rough step-by-step guide with pictures.

10 ft 2x6 (cedar)
8 long wood screws
8 short wood screws
1 cabinet handle
1 wall-mounted bottle opener
6 1/4" disc neodymium magnets
1 bar magnet
2 3" L brackets
1" spade bit + power drill
1" thick pink foam
indoor/outdoor sealant
wood stain, black appliance spray paint, chalkboard paint

Optional steps to paint: Begin by removing the lid hinges from both the lid and the body of the chest freezer, as well as any grates on the side.  Use painter's tape and cardboard to block off all openings you don't want painted.

Using appliance-grade spray paint, and give an even coat over everything.  One bottle barely covered the body of the chest freezer and the edges of the lid.  We painted the lid with chalkboard paint.

Measure and cut your 2x6 board to fit the top of the freezer.  You can opt to miter the edges for a cleaner finish, or you could do butt-joints for an easier cut-and-assembly process.  We went with butt-joints for this build.

Measure where you want your taps to be placed.  Keep in mind the width of your drip tray, as well as the diameter of the plastic washer on the tap (you don't want them too close together, otherwise the multiple taps won't fit).  We went with 5" apart, but probably could have done 4".  Use a small drill bit and drill a pilot hole all the way through the board. You'll have to drill the spade bit on both sides to get all the way through, so this pilot hole will ensure your two cuts line up.  

Attach the four pieces together using the long wood screws (again, be sure to drill pilot holes with a small bit).  Once together, do a quick fit check on top of the freezer and then stain the wood.  We opted for a light cherry stain.

While the paint and stain are drying, cut your insulation blocks using a sharp box knife.  You can either leave the right-angle edges, or bevel the sides in to accomodate the lid.

Once the stain has dried, attach the cabinet handle for your towel bar (another spot for pilot holes...).

Since a 2x6 is thicker than most cabinet doors, you may find that the included fasteners are not long enough for your towel bar.  If this is the case, you can either buy longer fasteners, or use your spade bit to drill out half of the board thickness.

Use indoor/outdoor sealant to attach the collar to the top of the freezer, as well as for attaching the insulation.

Once it's all in place, use the remaining sealant at all cracks along the insulation.

Now's a good chance to fit-check those 4" shanks on your tap!

If your 2x6 is slightly warped like ours, you may find the board doesn't sit perfectly level.  We used our heaviest text books to "clamp" everything down while the sealant cured for a few days.

Once the sealant has dried, reattach the hinges to the lid.  Align the lid, and then screw the hinges into the collar using the short wooden screws.

Success!  We have a working lid.

For final hardware, we also included a wall-mounted bottle opener.  We first placed a small neodymium magnet underneath for our cap-catcher, but its maximum capacity ended up being 6 caps.  We will either switch to a bucket or a bar magnet.

Testing it out...

It works!  "Bravely Done," says the Deschutes bottle.

Final piece of hardware: the drip tray!  Some liquid will come out of your tap after you are done pouring.  Some people will use the drip trays to rest glassware and let foam overrun, but we just wanted ours to keep our floors clean.  We went with this plastic/stainless steel combo, which is much less expensive than all stainless steel.

Since the drip tray didn't have to hold anything other than its own weight, we used two painted-black L-brackets to keep the tray up.  The L-brackets are affixed to the fridge with six neodymium magnets superglued to the back (three each).  We also used some wire glued to the bottom of the drip tray to stabilize it and prevent it from being knocked off accidentally.

A quick peek inside of everything together!  The freezer comes with a small basket, which we use to chill our glasses or store bottled beer.

The chalkboard top is decorated with chalk paint markers.  Much cleaner-looking than traditional chalk, but it requires water to clean it off.  We named her "Bierstadt" after a mountain in our home state.  It translates to "city of beer," which is also fitting!

Finally, she's done!