Pimp My System: Edward's Rockin' Kegerator
After getting back into the homebrew scene in early 2009, I discovered that several people at work enjoyed homebrewing as well. Our company deals a lot with guitar amplifiers, and also holds parties several times a year, so the chance to combine beer with a company event seemed an interesting idea.
Those of us at work who homebrew decided to have a formal competition. Since I'm kind of lazy and hate bottling, I decided I'd make a portable kegerator. It was loosely based off of one I'd seen in Brew Your Own magazine made from a large green trash can. I quickly decided I could do better and blend in the company's products to enhance my chances to win in the competition. From that, the Rockin' Kegerator or Amperator was born.
I managed to scrounge up a beta unit of several different amps and speaker cabinets and began planning. I decided I would shoot for a cabinet to hold the kegs and CO2, with the beer lines passing through an amp on top for visual appearance and proper height, all topped off with Perlick stainless taps on top.
After planning the pieces, I gutted the cabinet of the speakers, added some extra wood framing and cut an access panel on top. I wanted a swing-out back panel, but the weight of the ice and kegs would have made that difficult. I went with a top-load panel, justifying that there should be little need to change out kegs mid-party unless it was a really large gig, and the top load would be fine. Next I inserted the kegs to ensure fit, and planned the tubing locations and how to waterproof the box. I bought a thick shower pan liner and foam insulation to keep temperatures nice and cold.
The next step was to size the glue and insulation on all interior surfaces. I then used PVC cement and Loctite glue to fit the liner on the insulation and seal all edges. Once that was done, it was time for another test fit.
From here, I began closing the box up and sizing the tubing, using quick connects to allow a keg change if needed. I made up a cheap gas splitter to feed both kegs equally, and used a small CO2 tank to fit between the kegs. Inside the amp head unit, I made all the holes for the beer lines and began gutting the amp. The amp had a see-through panel on front, which would show the tubing and insulation, so I blacked it out with some diamond patterned plastic ceiling paneling to give the front a good look and conceal the guts.
The top of the head unit did not lend itself well to tap handles, so I fabricated a tap box with a plastic enclosure from Radio Shack. This gave the taps the right height and extension to allow me to pour properly. I used two new Perlick 525SS's for the taps, attached a stainless bar drain and was ready to test fit.
Once all the pieces were test fit, I was left with the final challenge of finding the tap handles. I had brewed a Bavarian helles lager and an Irish red to go into the kegs, so I needed to find some handle designs to represent my brews. After a few days of struggling and scrounging, I came upon a demo guitar neck at work and thought that would perfectly complete the look. It was a nice blond color, so asking around at work I managed to get a dark reddish brown guitar neck to match. After some careful cutting and tapping the handles to fit into the Perlicks, my system was complete.
The day of the event came and I discovered several great features of this kegerator. First, I had a Honda Accord, but breaking it down and stuffing it into the trunk and back seat was easy.
At the party, I found I had a very slight leak, so used a large heavy contractor garbage bag inside the cabinet to fully waterproof. I loaded in the two kegs and CO2, then dumped in a bag of ice and some cold water and sealed it up.
Everyone loved the design and it worked flawlessly to keep the beer cold (around 38°F) all day. This was on a very hot Southern California day in June, too! The party lasted about five hours, but my helles brew tapped-out around two hours in, and the red an hour later.
Breakdown was even easier, and I had all pieces drained, collected and in the car within 20 minutes. The only problem with the system was the weight of the taps versus the smooth movement of the Perlicks. I had to be careful to make sure the taps did not swing open on their own if someone bumped them by accident. This was not much of an issue since I was constantly serving! I did manage to garner second place and the "Amperator" continues to come out for parties at work and at home.
- 4 x 12 speaker cabinet
- Amp head unit
- Radio Shack black plastic project box
- Flat black spray paint
- ¼" plywood
- ½" 4' x 8' RMAX foam insulation (w/foil)
- Oatey shower pan liner PVC
- PVC liquid cement
- Perlick 525SS taps (2)
- 10lb aluminum CO2 tank
- Beverage tubing | 2 x 6 ft pieces
- Gas tubing | 2 x 2.5-3 ft pieces
- C02 line splitter
- 8" bolts with SS washers and nuts (2)
- 1" x 2" wood strips (2)
- Foam weather-stripping roll
- Black PVC 3" tubing
- Stainless steel drip tray | 3" wide
- Metal clip made from framing brace
- Black PVC tape | roll
- Beverage line disconnects (2)
- CO2 disconnects (2)
- Tap handles | guitar necks (2)
- Kegs (2)