BEER + WINE ISSUE: A monster kegerator just took over my kitchen!
The kegerator idea came in when he realized he was spending entire evenings cleaning out old bottles, only to use the same bottles for the next batch of homebrews, usually enjoyed in our own apartment with friends, or at the park.
He started with the smallest piece of the equation, hence why I was so surprised by the final, monstrous outcome. At first, it was just the miniature gift box-sized temperature controller, which he got the idea for off a homebrew forum. The STC1000 is the part he got off Amazon.com, which is just the switch and the temperature probe. He attached that to a plastic project box, which he got at a hardware store.
Gathering up parts for the eventual kegerator, he found a deal online for four Cornelius (Corny) kegs on a homebrewing site. His kegs have the pinlock type of closure, and were originally used as syrup containers by the Coca-Cola company, likely at a fast food restaurant.
Next came the beast itself: the chest freezer, which would eventually hold the Corny kegs, a 20-pound CO2 tank, and that little temperature box attached to the outside, controlling the temp of the beer fermenting inside.
He picked up the chest freezer from another hobbyist on Craigslist, who lived in Oakley, near Antioch. The man raised pitbulls for show, had a garage full of fishing lures, and also raised pigeons — which explained why there was bird shit all over the chest freezer at first. It's since been vigorously scrubbed down and lacquered with appliance paint then spray painted white.
On a sweltering weekend afternoon a few months back, our friends in Oakland helped us build a wood collar, which sits between the lid and the body of the chest freezer to give it extra height. It makes it roomier for the Corny Kegs and that oversized CO2 tank — which will likely fill around 20 to 30 kegs before it needs to be refilled. They also helped drill holes to attach the taps, because how else are we going to transform our apartment into a brewlab?
The beast was trucked to our third-story walkup and dragged into the kitchen with the help of those same friends. And now it sits, all seven cubic feet of it, chilling and cleansing two brand new batches of homebrew.
We cooked up both in the past week, one a pale ale and one an IPA. I used "we" liberally here, as I'm more of a sous chef, holding up pots and stirring when needed. The pale ale is a typical West Coast ale, in which we used Chinook bittering hops and cascade, and newer hop Amarillo, which "supposedly has a pineapple flavor."
The IPA also includes a lot of Amarillo, along with simcoe for bittering, and citra at the end. The husband fears the IPA might be a bit too bitter for most palates, hence the more balanced pale ale, which will be ready to spill forth from the first tap come next month. The IPA might take slightly longer, as fermentation processes vary, and can take anywhere from a few days to months.
And to answer your question: yes, you're all invited to the next tasting party.
For more information on the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild, see our Q&A.