Instructables

Beer Keg Smoker

Picture of Beer Keg Smoker
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I've seen some different things to do with an old beer keg on here; all except for the smoker.  Ive had this old beer keg sitting in my backyard for a while so I finally decided to do something with it.

This one is mainly adapted from one I found on google somewhere so I cant take full credit for it, but here are some more succinct instructions so you can make one of your own!

This is my first instructable so be gentle if I left something out or explained something unclearly.

Materials needed:
1 beer keg (oh yes, that is Natty Lite you see!)
1 top grate (the webber replacement grill for the 18" grill worked for me, its about 14" diameter)
1 bottom grate (I used some heavy chicken wire)
1x 10", 1x 12" 3/4"ID black iron pipe nipples 
1  3/4" elbow 
1 3/4" ID pipe bracket + hardware 
1 3/4” ball valve 
6 1.5” 5/16" bolts, w/ nuts and lock washers - used to hold up the top grate 
1 bag of hardwood lump charcoal
A few chunks of hardwood of your choice (Jack Daniels oak barrel wood chips is the way to go!)

Tools:
Shop rag
Angle grinder with cutting wheel (get some extras in case your cutting wheel breaks)
Flathead screw driver
Drill with bits
Safety glasses
A permanent marker
Hammer
Pocket knife (probably not completely necessary, but I always end up needing one)
Metal file
twine
JB Weld (for the chimney, and bottom seals, and where you accidentally cut where you shouldnt have)
Pliers


All of the materials (not including the keg) were around 40 bucks.

 
 
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Step 1: Getting your keg

I used a "half keg" which is pretty much the biggest one you can buy from your local grocery store or liquor store.  I've seen people use the bigger 50 gallon drums which are said to work better, but I think having one made out of a beer keg is pretty cool.
I sure hope you bought that keg legally before you cut into it. Putting a deposit on it at a liquor store when you pick it up full is not the same thing as ownership. It still belongs to the brewery that filled it. The value of a stainless steel keg is significantly more, and at a minimum, modifying the keg is a criminal misdemeanor, if not potentially a felony based on the value of the keg.

I would hope that you have a paper trail proving your ownership before you posted what you did on the internet for everyone to see... and to suggest that it was "ok" for them to simply use a keg from a liquor store.
I agree with this comment. It certainly does belong to brewery unless you can prove it was legally transfered to you. These keg are digitally marked internally and externally, they are traceable just as some pallets are. In fact in one image posted you can actually see the digital marking! These companies do employ folk to find illegal possession and use of their property. Just be aware!
vr6ators (author)  Mindmapper11 year ago
The keg was purchased legally. Please keep comments about the smoker.
vr6ators (author)  Deerslyr1015712 years ago
What a helpful and knowledgable comment... What would the world be without people like you?
vr6ators (author) 1 year ago
UPDATE: after using the keg smoker a few times I've finally figured out some quirks, and got it running at a nice stable 225-250 degrees. I bought a generic grill replacement temp gauge from Home Depot that I installed in the lid. This is a must if you want to get a decent smoke out of it.

The first time I used the keg smoker I couldn't get it under 400 deg, and the second time I couldn't get it to stay above 200. Now I have it where I can maintain an optimal 225-250 with these techniques:
Fill up a coal lighting can (enough to get a nice single layer on the bottom of the smoker) and get them lit (white and ashy). Then dump them in the smoker and add another layer of unlit coals. On top of that, add a layer of wood chunks (whatever flavor u like). Then I fill an old bread pan about 3/4 full of apple juice and set that on top of the coals. This has worked for me, but only after using it a few times to get a nice char on the inside.
I would have thought that you would huge problems keeping the temperature controlled as these kegs are not that huge and thus have a small air space. Judging by what you are putting in as fuel you will be roasting not smoking the food. Smoking is a gentle process not the same as BBQ.
Cleaning: as the keg will have only contained beer cleaing simply need a good hot burn without any food then let it cool and it should be safe to run.
I have been running smokers for years and this would in my experience be too small for effectvie smoking but would make an excellent BBQ roaster.
Be aware of ownership issues especially when you show the ownership clearly marked on your pictures! ;)
csubi1 year ago
Thank you. Any other questions I'll let you know :)
vr6ators (author) 1 year ago
The air pipe on the bottom is not capped. I realize most of the air will go through that, but it seems to work fine. Drilled a small hole about every inch all the way thru the pipe, 90 degrees apart from each other. As far as sealing the pipe in the bottom, I tried to hammer it in as best I could, but I did use some jb weld to get a nice seal. I've used it a few times and the jb seems to be holding up fine. The chicken wire works fine for the coals, but another layer for a water pan isn't a bad idea. I usually use an old bread pan just set on top of the coals with apple juice in it.
csubi1 year ago
Couple Questions. Is the air pipe at the bottom capped? How many holes did you drill into the pipe. Did you use JB Weld epoxy to seal the pipe at the bottom? Would that epoxy burn in the heat?

I see you used Chicken wire for the coals. Any issues with the ashes falling through? I was thinking of making 3 shelfs. Top like yours for the meat. A middle one for a water pan if needed, and the bottom one just above the air pipe. Maybe use a colander or something similar to hold the ashes. Thoughts?

Thanks. PS I'll make sure to have a paper trail of my keg. Never know when the Keg police will come. Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!
friger3 years ago
Cool idea, just a point of clarification, because I am numb sometimes, the section of pipe coming out the bottom with the ball cock on it, can I assume that is your air intake?
vr6ators (author)  friger3 years ago
Yea thats used for temperature control - the more you open the ball valve, the more air let in for the coals, the hotter it is. I'm gonna install a thermometer in the top for my next step.
friger3 years ago
One other cool thing you could do with this would be to use the smoke from the chimney, plumbed into another container or box as a cold smoker.