New Keezer Finished!

>> Monday, August 05, 2013

I haven't brewed for what seems like months, but I have a good excuse...I've been working on my new keezer. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a keezer is a freezer-based draft beer setup (typically chest freezer); like a kegerator is a refrigerator-based draft beer setup.

There are lots of different keezer examples out there but they tend to fall into two primary styles:
  1. Collar-mounted taps - A collar of some sort is sandwiched between the freezer lid and freezer body. Holes are drilled for mounting the taps through the collar and a drip tray is attached to the front of the keezer.
  2. Tower/Coffin mounted taps - Collars are sometimes but not always used in this kind of setup; it usually depends on how much clearance is needed inside the keezer. The original lid may be used but oftentimes a new lid is fabricated. A tower/coffin is mounted to the lid and the taps are mounted in the tower/coffin.
I went with the tower/coffin style setup and I'm using a collar so that I have enough clearance to fit two kegs on the hump and eventually upgrade from three to five taps. I didn't document things step by step, but here's some basic info.

Most of the wood is 3/4" poplar. The backsplash and top use 1/2" plywood with 1/4" cement backerboard set in thinset and then fastened to the plywood with screws. The cement backerboard should provide a stable substructure for the tile. The tile is glass mosaic and will hopefully be easy to clean if there are any spills.

The coffin and top were assembled with an assortment of biscuit joints, pocket screws, and wood glue...I think I could park my truck on it and it wouldn't break. I also made a dado cut on the lid trim pieces.  These fit snugly over the edge of the plywood lid and should help prevent sagging/warping with the lid. Also mounted on the lid is a 4" x 19" stainless drip tray from Update International (part # DTS-419). It's not quite as nice or heavy duty as my old wall-mount drip tray, but it's good enough.

I welded a very basic cart so the keezer can be easily moved when needed. It's constructed of 14 gauge 1"x2" rectangular steel tubing and 1.5" square steel tubing. I haven't done it yet, but my plan is to attach the keezer to the cart by sheetmetal screws that screw into the "feet" of the freezer.

Inside the keezer is a gas manifold, a tower blower/cooler, and the temp probe is immersed in a re-purposed White Labs vial filled with water. 

The gas manifold is made from a mix of brass fittings courtesy of Harbor Freight and Lowes. As with the previous kegerator, I chose to have the CO2 tank outside the keezer. The reason for this is it seems to work better on the outside (more consistent PSI) and I needed the extra room if I ever manage to upgrade to five taps. 

The tower blower/cooler helps recirc the air which helps avoid temperature stratification inside the freezer (thus helping to eliminate foamy pours from a warm tower/coffin). The cooler/blower design is based on this one. I might add a switch later on, but right now the blower is powered on whenever the freezer is plugged in. 

The temperature controller is a Willhi WH7016C controller which is similar to the STC-1000 controller that a lot of homebrewers are aware of ("eBay temp controller"). The main difference is it's a single stage controller rather than dual stage (heating or cooling rather than heating and cooling). It also displays the temp in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius which is nice for those of us in the US. I made a mounting panel out of some scrap sheetmetal I had and attached it to where the original thermostat was mounted. This controller includes a 30 amp relay, more than enough to handle the five amp draw of the freezer. I also added an 80mm fan that blows on the freezer compressor whenever the freezer kicks on; maybe not necessary but it was cheap and it might help extend the life of the compressor.

The faucets are VentMatics which were on my original kegerator. Shanks vary in length from 3" to 5", some with the integrated nipple and some with a detachable tail piece. These are also from the old kegerator but I can't remember why I didn't buy all 3" ones.

Here are a few random pictures of the keezer. through various stages of the build. Hopefully these will help illustrate how I put things together and may help inspire others that are considering tackling a project like this. This was a fun project, but I'm really looking forward to brewing another batch. On deck is a New Albion clone.

After initial assembly
Operational and waiting for tile
Five kegs, blower hose (middle) and gas manifold (right)
Dry fitting the tile
Bottle opener for...well, bottles
Temp controller replaced original thermostat