Introduction: Beer Keg Smoker
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.
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!)
Angle grinder with cutting wheel (get some extras in case your cutting wheel breaks)
Flathead screw driver
Drill with bits
A permanent marker
Pocket knife (probably not completely necessary, but I always end up needing one)
JB Weld (for the chimney, and bottom seals, and where you accidentally cut where you shouldnt have)
All of the materials (not including the keg) were around 40 bucks.
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.
Step 2: Release Pressure
Now you're going to want to release the pressure from the keg (after you drink all the beer out of it, of course!). My keg had been sitting around for quite a while, so I really didn't want any beer residue shooting up in my face. Best thing I found to do is put an old shop rag or t-shirt over the ball valve on the top and press down on it with a screw driver or other various tool you might think of. once the pressure is gone, you are ready to cut!
Step 3: Cutting
Now for the fun part. First, take your sharpie and make a line around the outside perimeter of the keg at the bottom of the widest part of the first rung from the top. If you look at the picture you can get a better idea of where this is. This is done for two reasons. first is so you have plenty of room for your food under the lid, and second is so the outside of the lid will fit nicely over the inside of the bottom section. When cutting, the easiest way is to use an angle grinder with a cutting wheel (make sure you have some extra wheels in case one gets messed up). If you have something crazy like a plasma cutter, however, go crazy. whatever you decide to cut it with, make sure you are careful!!! Wear safety glasses, closed toed shoes, pants, and have a fire extinguisher ready. These are dangerous tools, and if you actually decided to do this I can't be held responsible for you being an idiot.
Now that you are ready to cut, go slow so you get a nice even cut along your line. After that comes the tedious part. Get your metal file out and start smoothing out both edges where the shell was cut. This part is important to take your time on so that you have a nice finished product in the end and not a piece of crap. it also helps the top and bottom fit together. Also if there are any dents in the edges, make sure you hammer them out.
Step 4: Clean!
Probably the most important step. Get some bleach if you feel it necessary, but make sure you clean out the inside really well and rinse it (especially of your keg is old).
Step 5: Making the Bottom Vent
Now you are ready to make the vent in the bottom. Cut a hole in bottom lip of the keg large enough for the 10” 3/4” ID pipe to fit through – make sure the bottom of this hole lines up to roughly 1/2” above the inside bottom of the keg. Next mark out an oval shaped hole in the side of the convex bottom of the kettle so that the pipe will slip through and sit with it's opening in the center of the bottom. See the pics or this will make no sense. The idea here is to minimize the amount of void-space around the pipe where air can leak in uncontrolled.
Take the pipe that you are sliding into the bottom and drill some holes in it for better airflow as well, and assemble the pipes as shown.
Step 6: Grill Support
Wrap a piece of twine around the top portion of the kettle to determine the circumference just below the rib where the top was cut off. Lay the string out on a table and measure it, then divide that number by 6 and mark the string by that increment. Wrap the string back around the keg, taking care to be sure it's even and level, and transfer the marks. Drill 6x 5/16” holes around the top, and tighten the 5/16” bolts, nuts and washers into the holes. I had problems finding fully threaded 5/16 bolts so I ended up having to use a bunch of washers, so if you want to change up the size a little, feel free. Just make sure your bolts are at least 1.5 inches long or else they wont hold up the grill.
Step 7: Making the Chimney
You should be able to remove the sankey keg valve fairly easily. there is a ring clip holding it in on the top. Just get a screw driver in there and it should come out fairly easily. now grab the tube and twist it a bit to the left and it should come right out. Now you can disassemble the spring portion on the bottom of that by compressing the spring and turing the casing a bit to the left and it should come right off. Now, you can get the ball valve out simply by grabbing the rubber around it with some pliers and pulling really hard (its just pressed in there, I promise it will come out). Now reassemble the whole thing upside down and JB weld that beast to the top!
Step 8: Finishing Up...
Now you need to get some heavy chicken wire and cut it out so it fits in the bottom to hold the coals. Once you have finished that, clean the metal pieces out once more and you are ready to roll! Put some coals in the bottom and light them up. after about 25 min the should be white and chalky and put some of your favorite wood chips on there (make sure you soak them in water first). Now put the grill on the holders and slap your favorite meat on there!
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