Intro: DIY Stainless Steel Pipe Draft Beer Tower
I've seen quite a few beer tower projects made of black iron pipe and although I like the 'industrial modern' look I don't like the rust that eventually forms on the pipe fittings. Painting black iron pipe with clear paint isn't the answer because the gloss finish takes away a lot of the effect.
So, I decided that the right answer is to build a 2 faucet draft T-tower out of all stainless steel pipe fittings.
Step 1: The Parts List
To build your own beer tower you will need:
- 1 - 10" X 2" 304 Stainless Steel nipple
- 1 - 2" Black Iron Flange for mounting plate - the only non-stainless part of the project
- 1 - 2" 304 Stainless Steel Threaded Tee
- 2 - 2" X Close 304 Stainless Steel Threaded Nipples
2 - 2" 304 Stainless Steel 90 Degree Elbows
2 - 2" X 1/2" 304 Stainless Steel Threaded Bushings
- 2 - 1-3/4" Beer Shanks
- 10' - 3/16" X 10' of heavy duty beer line cut into two 5' lengths
- 2 - 13.3MM Oetiker clamps
- 1 Roll of Teflon Tape - I like Blue Monster tape
Note: For this project, the Teflon Tape is not used to seal the pipe threads. Your beer tower threads don't need to be sealed. The tape is used to prevent galling when you tighten the fittings. Thread galling is a form of cold welding where stainless steel threads will actually bond together. Once threads gall it's impossible to further tighten or loosen the fitting.
Step 2: Drill Both 2" X 1/2" Bushings to 7/8"
Standard beer shanks fit through a 7/8" hole, which does not exist in plumbing.
I've seen some projects where the builder used a 7/8" washer on the front of a 2" X 1" bushing, but I think it's not a very clean solution.
To me the right answer is to start with a bushing with the closest under size hole then mill or drill the hole up to 7/8". And this is exactly what we did for the two bushings we bought for our beer tower.
Step 3: Test Fit Your Beer Shanks
Before moving to the next step you should trial fit your beer shanks.
I don't have the shanks I'm going to use in my beer tower yet but I do have a 4" long beer shank that I used to test my drilling - and the shank fits both perfect.
Here is a link to the type beer shank you will want to use for your beer tower.
This shank includes a black plastic flange that you would throw away or use with another project.
Step 4: Paint the Mounting Flange
The flange fitting or mounting plate is the only part of my beer tower not made of stainless steel. I wanted to use a stainless steel flange but I discovered that stainless steel flange fittings are extremely expensive!
Since this is the only part that will rust without protection I painted the flange fitting with Krylon gloss back paint.
Step 5: Wrap Your Threads With Teflon Tape
Don't Skip This Step!!! If you do and your threads gall you will be throwing out expensive stainless steel parts and starting over!
If I were applying this tape to seal the pipe joints I would wrap three full wraps of tape the entire width of the threads. But because I only want to prevent galling and I want the tape to pretty much disappear as I screw the fittings together I carefully wrapped 2 turns of tape onto the first 3 - 4 threads of each threaded part. This way the tape disappears as I assemble the parts.
Step 6: Assemble the T Tower
Using a bench top vise and a large pair of slip joint pliers or plumbers wrench, assemble all the fittings.
The threads need to be tight enough to not move but not torqued down super tight.
Make sure you check your fitting alignment.
Step 7: Add Teflon Tape to the Bushings and Install Your Beer Shanks and Beer Lines
Since I'm waiting for my beer shanks to ship from Amazon, I just applied tape to the bushings and trial fit them.
For your project you would install your beer shanks, then attach 5' beer lines to your shanks.
Then wrap Teflon tape on the first 3 - 4 threads of the bushings and install.
Step 8: Almost Done - Waiting for Beer Shanks
You can see that this makes a very nice 2 Tap Beer Tower that would be the perfect addition for any 'industrial modern' themed home bar or man cave. The center point of my beer shanks are right at 10-1/2" from the bar top which is plenty tall enough for any of my beer glasses. If you want more height just add length to the 10" nipple I used for my tower. Threaded nipples come in 2" steps, so you can easily make your height 12-1/2" or 14-1/2" from your bar top with a simple part swap.
Step 9: Adding Beer Shanks
Beer shanks come in a variety of lengths, are available in Stainless Steel or Chrome Plated Brass, and have attached or removable beer line nipples. The ones I used are 1-3/4" long and have attached beer line nipples.
Beer shanks also ship with a stainless or black front flange fitting. I removed the flange for this beer tower because I believe the tower looks better without them. If you decide to include the flange fittings on yours just make sure you order longer beer shanks to compensate for the length the flanges take up.
Step 10: Assemble the Beer Shanks
Assuming you drilled the holes right the beer shanks should just drop into the holes, then you spin on and tighten the nuts from the back.
You'll see that the beer flanges have a small lip towards the front. This lip will sit on the front of the fitting, leaving clearance for the beer faucet nut to spin free. If yours drops all the way into the holes then you have drilled the holes too large.
Step 11: Attach the Beer Lines
Next you attach your beer lines. I use Oetiker clamps. Oetikers are used by most of the beverage industry and they are great clamps.
I attached 5' of heavy duty 3/16" beer line to each beer shank.
Step 12: Fish the Lines Through the Beer Tower
The beer lines will make the outside turn easy but you will need to make a tool to pull the lines out of the bottom of your beer tower.
I made a tool out of a piece of scrap aluminum but you could also use a metal coat hanger.
Step 13: Final Product!
Here are pictures of the beer tower sitting on my bar.
You'll have to admit - it's a great looking beer tower!!!
If interested in buying instead of building your own, these are available from our Amazon Store.