Jeff – this one’s for you. The sooner you start kegging, the happier you’ll be. It saves so much time and effort (even if you don’t include cleaning up bottle bombs) that you’ll find many more opportunities to brew. As you brew more, you’ll get better, you’ll have some to spare and finally -you’ll bring us some samples.
Here’s my setup. The fridge I used is a Frigidaire Model FRC445GB, and the full conversion instructions can be found at HomeBrewTalk.com – jump to page 7 for the full instructions. I’m not sure this exact model is still available, but if you look through the current postings, I sure you’ll find something similar.
The 3 main things to look for are:
1) a small compressor hump in the back because you need to be able to put your kegs in
2) no freezer, or a freezer compartment that doesn’t have the freon tubes entwined in the shelf. This is not so much of an issue if you go with a taller fridge, or 3 gallon kegs. Again, just be sure you have enough room to fit the kegs in.
3) no freon lines in the front if you’re using front taps, or top if you’re using a tower. You just have to nick or kink one line to convert your fridge to trash.
One nice feature about this model is that all the ‘shelves’ on the door are actually bins which you’ll have to remove to get the kegs to fit in. But then they make great see-through storage containers for all the little odds and ends of brewing like air locks, valve parts and miscellaneous chemicals and test strips. Some people have hot-glued one of the small bins on the front of the fridge as a drip tray. I would opt for this classier version (as opposed to the towel on the floor) if ours was not in the basement.
To do the conversion, you’ll need a kit like this one from KegConnection – 2 Faucet Refrigerator Conversion Keg Kit – I’m pretty sure this is where I got mine from. You can add on the CO2 tank and a keg or two if you don’t find them locally. Don’t forget to check craigslist – there are often kegs and CO2 tanks there. Also, Hydrobrew usually has kegs, and they always have replacement gaskets which you may want if you get a used keg. You can’t keep the pressure in the keg if the gaskets are shot, and sometimes the gaskets from sodas can impart a peculiar flavor or aroma to your beer – best to start with new gaskets.
And the PVC keg and fermenter washer sprays high pressure jets of hot water into all the nooks and crannies. Since I use BetterBottles instead of glass carboys, I’m reluctant to get in there with a scrub brush because I don’t want any scratches on the inside.
And… maybe this will give you a little more inspiration… here’s the recipe for one of the beers on tap now:
Amarillo Pale Ale – 3 gallon batch
6.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.50 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)
0.25 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM)
0.25 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (60 min)
1 whirlfloc (15 min)
Immersion Chiller if you’ve got one (15 min)
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (5 min)
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (0 min)
Heat 5 gallons water to 157F and add crushed grain to hit 152F mash temp.
Walk away for an hour.
Make sure the grain bag is not touching the kettle bottom as you heat to 170F mash out temp
Let sit (or stir if you’re so inclined) for 10 minutes
Remove the grain bag (suspend above kettle to drain).
Bring wort to boil and start 60 minute timer.
Add hops and whirlfloc (and chiller) per schedule.
Chill, aerate, and pitch your favorite ale yeast – I used US-05.
OG: 1.060 SG
FG: 1.012 SG
ABV: 6.26 %