Kegerator! The Plan.
If my last post didn’t indicate that I LOATHE bottling, I’m not sure what I could have said to get that point across.
While bottling has the cost part down (a 6-pack of bottles costs around $10 and comes with free craft beer), it has a number of disadvantages:
- Bottles are breakable
- Bottles take up a ton of room
- Capping 30-50 bottles at a time is no fun
- There’s no reliable, easy way to store clean bottles
The last point may be what has aggravated my wife. Despite the basement being “mine”, she is not at all happy with the several 6-packs of bottles in the middle of the floor. They’re in the middle courtesy of a crack in my foundation that leaks after extreme rains. Which has so far been twice, the second time left several 6-packs of empty bottles in a puddle. So they’ve been moved out for now. Into the middle of the floor.
The Plan – “Begin With The End In Mind”
My ultimate goal is a three tap keezer. One tap will (occasionally?) be a stout faucet. 95% of my beer is consumed by me, so I can have an IPA, a stout, and something else on tap. And nothing says that I can’t bottle the remains of a keg if it gets low, although the bottle guns I see look like a pain to use.
After looking at this guy’s nice keezer build on Reddit, my wife feels that it must be black and I must build a similarly nice looking collar. However, she feels mine should have a red pinstripe on it because it would make it look good with University of Cincinnati Bearcat decor. It’s really cool of her to say that since her degree is from Southwest Florida College, mine are from UC and University of South Florida.
After looking at my budget, my first few kegs will be with picnic faucets. I have more budget numbers, but they’re boring. I have more plans, but that’s boring too. The overall plan is something like:
- Paint Keezer Black, fix temperature sensor issue, and run it (for now) with the Raspberry Pi
- Begin using (seriously, I LOATHE BOTTLING ENTIRELY!)
- Build collar (may be done before #2, depending on many things)
- Add nice faucets
There’s a few other things I want to do. I’d love to have some way to know how much beer is left in a keg. One way I can do this is using a flow meter (such as in this article on Adafruit’s website). I don’t like the idea of a flow meter. Adafruit’s has a 1/2″ inlet and outlet, and the beer lines are smaller, so the geeky engineer in me questions the accuracy, and the homebrewer in me questions what happens to the beer in this thing. Then I thought about using weight sensors that I saw on Sparkfun’s website. As I was typing this, I found a post on HBT that even points to Sparkfun’s tutorial on their kegerator. While my implementation might deviate from this, it will be with inspiration from Sparkfun… although the first thing I thought of was this.
The Mystery Cylinder
I have a 5 lb beverage cylinder that I evidently purchased for another use in May of 2000. Yes, fifteen years ago. The gas shouldn’t go bad, but there was no label on the cylinder ever. I thought I’d call the place that I purchased the cylinder from (because it was either “air” or “CO2”, IIRC), but it appeared they went out of business many years ago (they may not have, but earlier I thought they did). I looked into things and found that as long as your tank was filled by a legitimate business (and this was), the ONLY valve on top of the tank should be a CGA 320… Okay, it could be Methyl Flouride, but I’d be shocked if I got that from a Fire Suppression Store and that it’d have a green collar on it, normally flammable stuff is red (but I could be wrong, I didn’t look into this).
I know of no other tests, but since I’m 99% sure this is CO2, I’m going to go with it.