When I got back into home brewing after a over a decade away, one of the things that I knew I was going to do differently was to keg instead of bottle. Of all things brewing, bottling was the one thing that always felt like a chore.
I was fortunate enough that a friend of mine had a single keg and CO2 bottle that he was not using, so I was able to keg my first batch without too much hassle.
Of course, one keg is never enough, as you all know, so nature took it’s course and the keg count in my closet began to multiply. I soon started thinking about just how I was going to serve all the beer that I was going to be filling these glorious stainless steel beer cans with, when I came across a picture on the interwebz of a beautiful chest freezer conversion by a gentleman who goes by the name BrewPastor on another forum:
I was hooked - I knew I wanted to have a chest freezer/coffin box beer dispenser in my living room! I had recently started fiddling around with a free 3D design tool called SketchUp, and I came up with a basic design for my ‘Altar of Beer.’
I even came up with a name for my project: The Keezer. Everyone had been referring to this type of conversion as a kegerator – a combination of the words keg and refrigerator, of course! But this wasn’t going to be a fridge, it was going to be a freezer! So you put keg and freezer together and, voila, you get Keezer! I had never seen the word used before on the brewing forum I was reading, and even a Google search didn’t turn up its use, so I guess I made up a word – yay me
My plan was to put a wood shell on the freezer, and attach the whole top to the lid, making construction as straightforward as possible. To accommodate the coffin box tilting towards the wall when opening, I would put the freezer on a base with casters. This would allow the whole unit to be rolled away from the wall to provide clearance for opening.
I thought I was going to be having 5 taps based on the size freezer I was looking for. Luckily, I couldn’t find the freezer I wanted and I had to get one that would hold 7! It’s a Kenmore 13 cf. After bringing the freezer home, I test fit the kegs
If it was 1/2" wider or deeper, I could fit 8, dammit!
Soon after I posted my intentions, I received some feedback about the wisdom of enclosing a freezer that uses the exterior to expel heat. I was not aware when I first started looking into this that today’s freezers use the exterior skin to shed heat. To provide ventilation, I decided to add an air gap of 1” and place a cooling fan in the base to draw air in from the bottom, up the sides of the freezer, and out the overhanging lip of the lid. The fan would be connected to the same temperature controller as the compressor, a Ranco single stage unit, so that whenever the compressor came on, so would the cooling fan.
Just FYI, the 1" spacers are not drawn full height - I was just trying to get the details for the venting. They will go all the way up to the lip of the freezer.
The final design differs slightly from this, and is much simpler. The construction photos should explain it pretty well.
About this time, I had a party and needed to have something on tap – pretty ghetto, but very effective!
Not long after, I put together version one of my (rather leaky) CO2 manifold.
Then I found a really cheap source for regs and built this (still leaky) manifold.
In a later (non leaking) version, I added check valves to protect the regulators. There was some commentary at the time that this manifold was complete overkill, and that nobody needed 7 different serving pressures. Any the commenters were completely right, and I don’t give a rats ass! The regs were ridiculously inexpensive, and I wanted to go all out, so I did.
In a burst of expenditure, I ordered a bunch of hardware for the project.
Next up was to order the stone and get some lumber. I was gonna say wood, but…