Instructables

DIY Jockey Box! (Beer tap/cooler)

A Jockey Box is a simple way to drop the temperature of keg beer down to a more palatable temperature, ideally 38°F.

I'll show you a fairly simple way to put one together out of easy to use plumbing parts.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Assemble parts and yer tools!

IMG_8194.JPG
IMG_8195.JPG
IMG_8196.JPG
IMG_8206.JPG
First off, gather up all the materials and tools you'll be using. Follow along in the pictures.

- A medium sized cooler, say 30 quart or so, it doesn't need to be huge.

- At least 20' of copper tubing. I used 1/4" ID. I would not go any larger than that. The outlet tubes in the Pepsi type kegs that this is for are about 1/4" ID, and you don't really want to be larger than that if you can help it. Being larger in diameter would give the beer time to expand on its way to your glass, resulting in a glass of foam. Boo.

- Tap w/ 4" shank. The length of the shank doesn't really matter so much, so long as it fits through the wall of the cooler.

- A short length of think-walled vinyl tubing to go from the fitting on the back of the tap to the copper tubing.

- Fittings to adapt the vinyl tubing to the copper tubing. For the copper tube fittings, I chose compression type fittings for their ease of use.

- Pipe seal (Teflon) tape.

- Not pictured: wrenches of various sizes for tightening the fittings together.

- Adapter from garden hose to nipple, same size as all the others.

- Cheap vinyl tube to fit the nipples from garden hose to inlet, for leak-testing and cleaning. The stuff I got is rated to 45psi.

- Step drill bits, or standard drill bits, in the sizes you'll need to put the holes in the cooler.

- Sharpie.

- One cat, preferably white.

- Zip ties. Lots and lots of zip ties!

I've been purposely vague on the sizes of the fittings, and the sizes of wrenches and tools for the simple reason that you may not be able to get the exact same sizes of adapters that I did.

All of the fittings were purchased at Homebrew Heaven, in Everett WA. The copper pipe was picked up at my local Lowe's, which I paid too much for, but I wanted to get all the parts all on one trip.
Made one of these this weekend. Decided I wasn't going to worry about the copper and just try not to leave beer sitting in the lines for more than a couple days, store it with the lines filled with Idophor (sanitizer solution that doesn't react with copper), and pour out the first couple drafts if beer has been sitting in it for a while. If I still get copper poisoning I'll be sure to report back.

I did mine very similar. Used 20' of 3/16" ID copper and 5' of 3/16 ID vinyl tubing for the beer line

I did some experimenting and found the keg needs to be chilled (~50 F or less) for it to not pour foamy. I was hoping this could serve cold beer from a room temp keg (wouldn't have to ice the keg), but that will get you nothing but foam. Maybe everyone already knew this, but I sure didn't. For the beer to remain properly carbonated at 70 F the CO2 will need to be set around 25 PSI. This jockey box does not have enough resistance in the lines to get a good pour with the system set at 25 PSI so I added 30' of 3/16 ID vinyl tubing to the system. After adding that I could get 70F beer chilled to ~45F and not pour foamy.
Copper seems attractive for it's ability to transfer the temp- make the brew cold.

Has anyone considered Food grade plastic tubing/fittings?
Sol5012 years ago
Great instructable! Thx for sharing - but where do i put the cat? ;)
Legeir0073 years ago
Your instructable is great, but I need address the copper and tubing to use: This jockey box video explains it the best but you can soak copper peices to remove lead and you can use draft tubing instead of copper. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62TEjH2E2ds -James
kilabe4 years ago
Nice instructable! glubash was on point when said that it should be used for a weekend trip or a day-out and not long term. You should always flush your lines before and after usage with a sanitizer. Personally, I would use SS tube in place of the copper.
novafire4 years ago
4-101.14 Copper, Use Limitation.* High concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused foodborne illness. When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food. Carbon dioxide may be released into a water supply because of an ineffective or nonexistent backflow prevention device between a carbonator and copper plumbing components. The acid that results from mixing water and carbon dioxide leaches copper from the plumbing components and the leachate is then transferred to beverages, causing copper poisoning. Backflow prevention devices constructed of copper and copper alloys can cause, and have resulted in, the leaching of both copper and lead into carbonated beverages. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and contains lead which is used to combine the two elements. Historically, brass has been used for items such as pumps, pipe fitting, and goblets. All 3 constituents are subject to leaching when they contact acidic foods, and food poisoning has resulted from such contact. The steps in beer brewing include malting, mashing, fermentation, separation of the alcoholic beverage from the mash, and rectification. During mashing, it is essential to lower the pH from its normal 5.8 in order to optimize enzymatic activity. The pH is commonly lowered to 5.1-5.2, but may be adjusted to as low as 3.2. The soluble extract of the mash (wort) is boiled with hops for 1 to 2½ hours or more. After boiling, the wort is cooled, inoculated with brewers yeast, and fermented. The use of copper equipment during the prefermentation and fermentation steps typically result in some leaching of copper. Because copper is an essential nutrient for yeast growth, low levels of copper are metabolized by the yeast during fermentation. However, studies have shown that copper levels above 0.2 mg/L are toxic or lethal to the yeast. In addition, copper levels as low as 3.5 mg/L have been reported to cause symptoms of copper poisoning in humans. Therefore, the levels of copper necessary for successful beer fermentation (i.e., below 0.2 mg/L) do not reach a level that would be toxic to humans. Today, domestic beer brewers typically endeavor to use only stainless steel or stainless steel-lined copper equipment (piping, fermenters, filters, holding tanks, bottling machines, keys, etc.) in contact with beer following the hot brewing steps in the beer making process. Some also use pitch-coated oak vats or glass-lined steel vats following the hot brewing steps. Where copper equipment is not used in beer brewing, it is common practice to add copper (along with zinc) to provide the nutrients essential to the yeast for successful fermentation.
psi30005 years ago
I love this idea. However I do have a question. Wont beer sitting in the copper pipe cause oxidation (patina) and cause the beer to taste very bad? Not to mention patina is toxic.
dugie90 psi30005 years ago
Copper kettles have been used historically (and currently with the microbrewing revolution) for years. Copper is a common component in brewing equipment and in the industry.
TexBob dugie905 years ago
Yes that is true, but no one uses copper in the post fermentation process. The low PH of beer will react with the copper. FDA Regulation 4.101.14 prohibits serving beer, wine, seltzer and soda to the public with any copper or brass component in the storage or delivery system.
glubash TexBob5 years ago
I would say that in general, a jockey box isn't for long term usage but more for a weekend fishing expedition, picnic, or party (I'm sure there are exceptions). If long term use is what you have in mind, you may want to substitute Stainless Steel for the copper pipe to avoid potential issues. Good write up!
I have a dual tap jockey box and it works great!
pyro2225 years ago
Dude Nice! I love Instructables dedicated to beer.
combine this with the best method for cooling beer cans (ice+salt+water) and you'd get awesome cold beer! good 'ible. makes me want to go get a keg just to have an excuse to make one!
Damn fine first instructable, even thou I prefer my beer warm.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!