Saturday, March 26, 2011

Refrigerator Draft Beer Tap Installation

After buying about 100 one liter PET bottles and using them exclusively for bottling my homebrew for almost a year I decided it was time to try kegging instead. It's not that I came to hate bottling I had by this time gotten really efficient at it. I used a priming calculator to determine how much sugar I had to add to each bottle to hit the right carbonation level for the style of beer I was bottling.

Perlick 'Perl' 575SS Sanitary Beer Faucet With Creamer
I guess what bothered me the most was the small amount of trub at the bottom of each bottle and the fact that most folks didn't know how to pour a glass without stirring the trub up making the rest of the beer cloudy. Filtering my beer sounded like an expensive time consuming process that I wouldn't want to do, but kegging now that sounded promising.

I had picked up my kegging system complete with 5 pound aluminum Co2 tank, regulator with high and low pressure gauges and the assortment of tubing, valves and beer in and beer out ball locks needed for a kegging setup. I had also bought two 2.5 gallon kegs to hold my beer and initially put the whole setup, including a cobra picnic tap to serve the beer, inside my refrigerator. Things were now starting to get interesting the idea of having fresh homebrew on tap was awesome!

Co2 Kegging System Tank, Gauges And Kegs
We soon realized that going inside the refrigerator to pour a beer and having to open the door open each time was a pain. This would become really expensive during the summer as well when temperatures inside the garage can reach 100 F and holding the door open would cause the compressor to run continuously. The best idea was to mount a beer tap right into the sidewall of the refrigerator, this would be more convenient and save a lot of energy.

Perl Tap Mounted In Refrigerator Sidewall
In order to mount the 2.5 inch beer shank in the refrigerator wall we used a 1 inch hole saw and an electric drill. We measured from the floor up to the center of the beer shank 41 inches, using an average person's comfortable pouring height, and marked the center of the hole.
Use A 1 Inch Hole Saw To Drill The Shank Hole
The Perl tap was screwed onto the shank on the outside and then the shank nut was used to tighten the tap assembly from the inside of the refrigerator. The length of 5/16 inch ID vinyl tubing was then pushed onto the 5/16 barb on the shank and held in place with a small hose clamp. The other end of the 50 inch long tubing was then connected to the beer out ball lock using 2 small hose clamps to hold the 5/16 inch ID vinyl tubing to the 1/4 inch OD barb on the ball lock.

Inside Shank Connection Shown With Beer In Tubing
Next we mounted the Co2 tank and gauges on the outside of the refrigerator, this was done to give back some much need room to store beer and other items and to provide more accurate gas pressure gauge readings when adjusting the Co2 regulator. A 5/8 inch diameter hole was drill through the wall and a small rubber grommet was pushed into place to protect the vinyl gas line from being cut by any sharp metal edges.

Small Rubber Grommet In 5/8 Inch Hole For Gas Line
A screw fastened to the garage wall and a length of electrical wire was used to protect the regulator and gauges from crashing to the floor in case they were carelessly knocked over. A grommet was also used on the hole inside the refrigerator to protect the tubing and provide a more finished look to the installation.

Keg, Gas And  Beer Lines Are All Ready To Pour
After all the holes were drilled, the beer and gas lines run and connected, the beer keg was placed inside the refrigerator and the ball locks snapped tight. The Co2 valve was opened and the 6 psi serving pressure was applied to the keg, our first pour was only moments away. The Perl faucet dispensed the beer perfectly the very first time, pouring a full glass of beer in in seconds with no foam over.

Extra Room Inside The Refrigerator Is Another Benefit
Now that the draft beer tap has been properly installed and setup to pour a perfect draft beer every time my next challenged is going to be in keeping up with the demand. A full 2.5 gallon keg of beer can be properly force carbonated and ready to drink in less than a week which knocks off about 10 days wait time when bottle carbonating.

The Perl Beer Faucet Dispenses A Perfect Poured Draft Beer Every Time

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