After years of making my own wine, I decided to up my game and jump into the world of homebrewing beer. While I enjoy most of the process, I did not enjoy sterilizing, filling, capping, labeling, and storing dozens of bottles of beer. It was the bane of my homebrewing experience. After 3 or 4 batches of successfully bottled beer, I decided to build my own kegerator. This eliminated the need for such bottling detail and also allowed me the opportunity to expand my beer collection to local breweries that would fill a corny keg.
I started by doing research on different styles of DIY kegerators and after weighing all of the different options, I landed on a cost-effective model that could store 4 individual corny kegs; the keezer. A keezer is basically a chest freezer, converted into a beer dispensing machine. This meant I could keep 2 homebrew batches going at all times and also rotate through some of my favorite local breweries.
Step 1: Supplies
I started by creating a list of necessary materials:
Chest Freezer – I shopped around and was able to find a good deal on a 7 cu. ft. chest freezer from Sam’s Club.
Wood – I needed several feet of 2”x6” pine to create a collar for the taps. This ended up being 2 – 96” boards. I definitely purchased more than I needed for this project.
Chrome Beer Faucets – At the suggestion of a homebrewing friend, I went with stainless steel. While this keezer can technically hold 4 corny kegs, I decided to start with 2 faucets in the beginning.
3” Shanks with Nipple Assemblies - These shanks would pass through the wooden collar, allowing me to connect the faucets on one end and the beverage hoses to the other.
Beverage Tubing – I went ahead and purchased enough tubing to create 4 individual lines. 20 feet of 3/16” tubing.
Gas Tubing – Again, I purchased enough to create 4 individual lines. 20 feet of 5/16” tubing.
Liquid Quick Disconnects – I purchased 4 disconnects which allowed me to connect all 4 lines to the top of my corny kegs. (Note: there are different styles and sizes of disconnects depending on line size and keg type. Purchase accordingly.)
Gas Quick Disconnects – I purchased 4 disconnects which allowed me to connect all 4 lines to the gas manifold.
4-Way Gas Manifold – Allows me to split my CO2 tank between 4 individual kegs.
10lb CO2 Tank – This included a double gauge regulator to monitor pressure to the lines and amount of CO2 left in my tank.
Corny Kegs - Corny kegs (Cornelius Kegs) are a homebrewers best friend, allowing me to fill and pressurize my kegs as needed. They were originally used by the soft drink industry.
Temperature Controller – Since we originally started with a chest freezer, we need the ability to control the temperature inside the keezer so the beer will not freeze.
Random Accessories – Door gasket tape, screws, clamps, stain, polyurethane, silicone, etc. (Details in build plans.)
Step 2: Disassemble the Freezer and Building the Collar
I started by removing the lid from the freezer. I removed the hinge from both the freezer body and top. (I later determined it was only necessary to remove the hinges from the body.) I then measured the wood pieces I would need to build a collar on top of the freezer body. 2 pieces of 2x6 pine @ 34” and 2 pieces @ 17 5/8” would allow me to build a collar that flushed up against the outside frame of the keg. After pre-drilling the holes (using a clamp to ensure everything was properly in place), adding a line of glue to each of the ends of the 17 5/8” pieces, I screwed the pieces together using 3 inch screws. I let the glue dry overnight as I wanted to ensure a perfect bond.
Step 3: Prep for Staining Collar
The next morning, I added wood putty to the screw holes and after the putty set, I spent some time finely sanding the entire collar.
Step 4: Staining the Collar
I gave the collar its first coat of stain. I opted for a quick drying, dark stain that would help hide some of the imperfections in the wood. After 4 coats of stain, I reached my desired color choice and gave it a few layers of polyurethane to protect the wood. The staining and sealing process was the most time consuming and messy piece to this project. Being said, I am glad to have taken my time and done it properly.
I didn’t realize how long it actually took stain to dry and while waiting anxiously, decided to build a new set of cornhole boards. (Maybe an Instructable on that later.)
Step 5: Attaching the Collar
It was now time to affix my newly crafted collar to the freezer body. After cleaning all edges, I applied a generous amount of silicone to the top edges of the freezer body, making sure that a perfect seal would be made after applying the collar. Once it was properly set in place, I added weights to the top of the collar to ensure a tight bond. I left this over night.
After removing the weights and giving the collar a little shake to make sure it was properly set, I added silicone to the outside and inside seams where the collar met the freezer. I also added silicone to the internal seems of the wooden collar to make sure everything was properly sealed.
Step 6: Adding the Hardware
It was at this point I started to add the internal hardware to the keezer. I attached the 4-way manifold to the backside of the collar, giving me full access to turn the gas off to any unused lines. I also drilled 2 holes (just large enough for the shanks) in the front of the collar. I laid out the position for the shanks to give me enough room inside to work on lines attached to the shank. I then attached the gas and beverage lines, each 5 feet in length, to their matching connections and also added the Quick Disconnects.
Step 7: Putting the Top Back On
I laid the freezer top on the assembly, marked the edges of the gasket, and added a layer of door gasket tape to the top edge of the collar. While not necessary, I figured a better seal would be created between the lid gasket and collar using this method. (I am glad I did add the tape as there is absolutely no leak of cold air when the lid is shut.)
I then attached the lid by marking the hinge screw locations to the back of the collar and screwing them in place using 1 inch wood screws.
Step 8: Installing the Temperature Controller
I then needed to drill a small hole in the back of the collar to insert the Temperature Controller Probe. After feeding the wire into the hole, fixing the probe to the plastic coated separator in the freezer, and attaching the Temperature Controller box to the outside of the collar, I filled the probe hole with silicone to seal it in place.
The Temperature Controller allows me to shut power down to the freezer once the internal temperature reaches the desired coldness for beer.
Step 9: It Found a Home
After everything was installed, I moved the keezer into it’s final resting place and turned the beast on. I am very happy to say that this keezer has been running without an issue for a little over 2 years now. Instead of adding the additional 2 taps, I use the remaining area in the keezer to store bottled beers and random liquors which need to be chilled.
I followed http://www.mikebeer.net/ for the general layout of my keezer.