Instructables

Portable Keg Cooler (a.k.a. R2-Beer2)

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Picture of Portable Keg Cooler (a.k.a. R2-Beer2)
I purchased a kegerator last year to enjoy cold beer on tap at home. Early this spring, I thought that it would be nice to make it portable for camping, parties, fishing trips, etc. After thinking a bit about hauling a refrigerator around (not to mention the need for electricity) I decided to build a large portable cooler designed to hold the keg and CO2 canister.

I considered constructing a jockey box but that got trumped by wanting a more enclosed system.

I looked around online for some ideas and found a few commercially available insulated coolers starting around $180. Too rich for my blood! in addition, those were typically not set up for a CO2 driven system but more towards a one-night keg killer party with a standard air tap.

As with most of my projects like this that drive my wife crazy, I talked about it for a few weeks, researched on the 'net, and had a fairly detailed plan in my head by the time I started buying materials.
 
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Step 1: Materials

Materials:

1. 55 Gallon Plastic Barrel (used) - $10
2. 30 Gallon Plastic Barrel (used) - $10
3. 4' x 8' x 2" Extruded Polystyrene Insulation - $28
4. Shower Drain + Reducer - $??
5. Misc PVC Fittings and pipe - left over from previous plumbing projects
6. PVC Ball Valve - $??
7. Thermos - $5
8. Casters (4) - $12
9. 4' x 8' x 1/2" Faced Insulation - $9
10. Can of "Great Stuff" - $6
11. 4" x 7/8" Corner Brace (2) - $5
12. Aluminum Tape, spray glue, plywood, screws, etc. - Extra stuff laying about

Grand Total = about $105 (figure $20 for the stuff that I don't recall the price)

hjubilee1 month ago

Your R2Beer2 has been an inspiration for
me to build one of my own. I made mine with a different kind of top. I
cut away from the top of the outer barrel keeping the lip intact. The
guy I get barrels from has lids that fit over the top of the outer
barrel. I sandwiched two lids together with some foam board insulation
along with some silver bubble wrap radiant barrier. I added a round
piece of varnished plywood and installed a kegerator tower. I made a
tower cooler whose fan plugs into a USB input for ease of using a
battery/car charger. I taped two small strings of battery powered LED
Xmas lights to the inside of the outer barrel and filled it with pour
insulation I got from Tap Plastic ($40). We used it at a 3 day party in 90+ degree heat. We filled it with 3 bags of ice on Friday, and the picture below shows it on Sunday afternoon with most of the ice still there. I'll post pictures of things
that differ from the original R2Beer2.

10314773_615934688503664_2797550608165548765_n.jpgGas Line Installed.jpgGas line disconnected.jpgbottom gas line.jpgRadiant Barrier.jpgjBatteries.jpgX-30.jpgFoam.jpgcut foam.jpgDaytime finish.jpgLights.jpgwith dolly.jpgIce.jpg
jjoechump made it!1 month ago

Built my first one a couple weeks back, great build! Beer was ice cold and everyone loved it. Built a second one (not the one pictured) and added pipe insulation around the lid and bottom to create a better seal. I use a dolly with inflatable wheels to deal with the rough terrain of camps/farm land rather than typical casters. Overall works very well, highly recommend.

20140602_003615.jpg20140602_003520.jpg
rpeterika1 year ago
I've built two of these (modified slightly) and everyone loves them. Thanks for the well-documented build.

With the two I built...
Modifications include:
1) Didn't insulate top or bottom; oversight on my part, but still performed well (ice outlasted keg by days)
2) I used 3/4" rigid insulation, cut into strips but left the film on one side, so it could wrap the keg like a jacket, then wrapped that with some eco-fiberglass stuff (didn't want to buy more rigid insulation). I inserted the entire wrapped 35 gal drum into the 55 gal drum, as opposed to inserted insulation in between the two. Used one great stuff canister to fill in voids at top, but couldn't get it more than 12" deep into the voids between the rigid insulation, otherwise I probably would have used more.
3) I mounted the faucet on some 2x4s poking out the top and ran lines in through the threaded holes in the cap, overflow beer drained towards the cap and into the ice bath
4) No casters or drain line

Couple Questions:
1) How important is the drain line? I can't imagine a situation where you need to drain the water... maybe because my kegs are always empty before ice/water needed to be drained, so I would just pull the keg out and tip the cooler over.
2) Really just throwing out an idea: for the next set I think I'm going to use marine pour insulation and entrain it with packing peanuts, since the insulation is $40/cf (ft^3), and the void in between the two drums is about 2.7 cf. Any thoughts?
glubash (author)  rpeterika1 year ago
1. I use the drain line when the keg is outlasting the ice. It is much easier than tipping over the barrel when refilling. If you are killing the keg in a day or two, no need for one. If you are using it all week in 90 degree heat, the drain is nice.

2. I like your idea with the peanuts. One reason I didn't use the marine pour was that it is so expensive. I would probably go with extruded styrofoam peanuts if you can find them. The expanded styrofoam will absorb water over time if they are saturated. Of course, if they are encapsulated in marine pour, that shouldn't be a problem.
3. If you have any pictures, please post!
markherm134 years ago
I am a college student and am looking for a little extra cash so i have been selling shrimp at the flea market and been doing so well i need to upgrade from igloo coolers to something larger. I have found a 35 gallon barrel and a 55 gallon barrel and am trying to make a larger cooler. Do you know of anyway to use the co2 canster to help cool the barrel via co2?
For shrimp, you'd really want to use regular ice. CO2 can get expensive if you're not buying it in bulk (the beer guys charge about $5/lbs vs $.75/lbs for 100lbs). Also, regulating the expansion is doable, but not really worth the trouble.

Dry ice would probably freeze everything in about an hour.
glubash (author)  markherm134 years ago
Theoretically, that could be done by plumbing up some type of an expansion chamber (as the CO2 expands it will absorb some heat) BUT, unless you have a free source of CO2, it would get very expensive. The amount of CO2 that it would take to keep a keg cool would quickly outstrip the cost of keeping things cold with ice. Of course, you could always discharge a CO2 fire extinguisher in there! :) If you are looking for a longer-term solution, the keggerator route may be better. I've seen some pretty reasonable ones on Craigslist (~$125 or so, search for "keg"). Good Luck.
Ryan_C5 years ago
Awesome Job! This is exactly what I was dreaming up, just wasn't sure where to find the 55 gal and 30 gal drums. Where would be a few good spots to try? How long does the ice last out in the sun?
glubash (author)  Ryan_C5 years ago
Glad that you like it! I haven't done an outside sun test. Two inches of the extruded polystyrene should give an R-10 insulation factor. The R-factor on the extruded poly is the highest that I could find that was readily available and not prohibitively expensive. The next significant step up gets into very high buck materials or vacuum. Most standard coolers seem to have around 1/2 - 1" or so of insulation and I think the "super" coolers are closer to 2". With the 2" of insulation in this thing and starting out with a cold keg and a full load of ice, I think it will easily last a day in the sun but have yet to try it (have an outing planned in a few months where it will get a full test). As far as finding drums, that took me awhile. I started out with looking on Craigslist and doing a lot of asking around. I did find a businesses that cleans out and recycles drums (they were asking about $25). I posted an add on Craigslist as well and got several responses. I paid $10 for each of my drums. Not sure what the small one had in it but the large one was from a gas station car wash (you could ask there as well). Good luck!
glubash (author)  glubash3 years ago
The ice generally will last around 2 days in full sun and 95 degree heat (with the keg getting hit on a regular basis). Better insulation in the lid would increase this. Additionally, I may paint the lid white.
lemonie5 years ago
Ah, ice-cold suds... L