It has been approximately one week since my first brew, and it is about time to share what I learned on my first brew day and post the results of my kegerator experiment.
When you get a couple guys together who like beer (Bill, Jeremy, Travis and I), give them a place to hang out (around the beer kettle), give them something to talk about (beer), give them something tasty to drink (Rohrboch’s Scotch Ale), and food (Papa John’s… hey they delivered), you have a pretty good recipe for a fun time hanging out. All in all, I will count the beer brewing process as a success even if it ends up tasting like butt, because I learned a lot and had a great time.
The things I learned:
- You can’t tell how cold it is out, when sitting next to a propane burner
- Apparently I need to listen to more country
- Brewing beer is a lot like making tea, and then letting it ferment
- Jeremy and Travis have fun toys for brewing
- Brewing beer is a slow process
- The grains are rather bland tasting after being boiled
- Cleaning all the equipment is a form of hazing
- Travis gets rather annoyed if you accidentally shoot dirty water at him while cleaning
Thanks Bill, Travis, and Jeremy for helping me brew my first batch it was fun.
The morning after brew day, I worked on finishing up my kegerator. When I first decided to get involved in brewing, bottling was my first choice. After doing some legwork, finding out I had an extra mini-fridge, and realizing the convenience of kegging, I decided to convert said mini fridge into a kegerator. What surprised me was how simple it was.
Step one: Remove the shelving on the door. The shelving on the door takes up a decent amount of room in the fridge, so to fit a keg inside it has to go. There is no real need for it in a kegerator either.
*Note: Removing the shelving on the door opens up a lot of space. I actually did just this step to my other mini fridge so we can fit more beer in it.
Step two: Bend the freezer portion of the mini-fridge upwards. In many mini-fridges there is a metal freezer portion at the top, if you don’t have one, cool. If you do have one however, it will get in the way of the keg. You can’t remove the freezer portion completely because this is the main cooler unit for the fridge. My solution was to simply bend the bottom upwards. To do this I unplugged the fridge and let it warm up and then slowly bent it upwards. It worked like a charm.
Step Three: This is the fun / iffy step. At this point I had a fridge that could hold a corny keg. I decided I wanted a draft tower on top, as there would be less chance of coiling coils on the top of a front opening fridge. Additionally, a tap handle on the door of a mini fridge would be a little awkward. The draft tower necessitated a hole in the the top, and while chance of cooling coils in the top is small, it better safe than sorry. I just grabbed a utility knife, and a laundry detergent cap, and made a hole. The hole I made was not very circular, but by using a utility knife I was able to probe for piping, and thus not puncture a pipe. The fact that the whole wasn’t round would be of little consequence once the tower was on.
Step Four: Add the draft tower. I picked mine up from http://kegworks.com, as it was the cheapest I could find, and since they are located in Buffalo, NY, my 3 day shipping only took 1 day! I just dropped the tubing down the hole I already cut, and screwed down the tower. My kegerator was finished.
Of course, I wanted to really finish off the kegerator, so I needed some real tap handles. I searched high and low for good tap handles that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg, and boy did I get a good deal. If you ever want a tap handle, and are local to Rochester, NY, hit up Kevin at The Old Toad. This was one cool experience, as I got to go into the storage room of The Old Toad, and go through all of the tap handles. Of course, there were some restriction on what I could take; I couldn’t take something if he couldn’t easily replace it, and if he only had one of that tap handle. I was like a kid in a candy store. After going through the massive collection, I walked away with a Stone Ruination, Sam Adams seasonal, Kronenbourg 1664, Beamish, London Porter Label (I can swap this on and off with the Magners label), and Magners tap handles. The Sam Adam’s and the Magner’s taps were particularly cool since I can easily add my own labels to the handles. The important thing to get out of this is this: if you have a local pub that frequently switches beers out, give them a call. The distributor likely gives them new tap handles every time they get something ‘new’ in.
To truly polish off my kegerator I need to get my brew into it. Another 10 days, and we should be good to go.