Author Topic: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?  (Read 2025 times)

Offline phillamb168

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Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« on: January 04, 2011, 02:30:26 PM »
I've already got a kegerator inside (room for two corneys, meh. want a keezer! wife not want. not get keezer) but I'd like to have something I can put out on the deck and leave there. For special occasions I suppose I could just bring out the kegerator, but I've heard that moving them around means you have to wait 24 hours before using it... And if it's cold out, 24 hours is a lot to ask.

Is there a good bare-bones dispensing system that I could just leave outside? I've considered a jockey box, but the problem is if there's any liquid in the lines at all, and it freezes, I have to build a brand new one. Also believe it or not it's super hard to find bags of ice here (I have NO idea why, it's the strangest cultural thing I've seen in France to date) so filling one of those things up with ice water before use is pretty difficult.

I already have electricity running out to the deck so if it needs to be plugged in that's no biggie. I don't currently have any covered areas on the deck but am building one this spring (which is why I'm asking about this now, so I can plan for any additional space requirements).
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Offline hamiltont

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2011, 04:44:09 PM »
Don't know if this will be any help or not. I use a plastic garbage can filled about 1/4 full of water & ice (I make my own blocks of  ice with food storage containers). Then just a picnic tap & CO2 (spare tank) out the top under the lid. The keg will start to float & lean a little when it gets empty so I just remove some of the water at that point... Crude, yes. Functional, yes.  Cheers!!!
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2011, 05:32:50 PM »
I built a portable kegerator out of a Ice Cube rolling cooler.  It wasn't my idea, I stole it from here and other sites.

The build is easy, just cut a keg sized hole in the lid of the cooler, insert keg, remove lid and add ice then reinstall lid.  We use a 2.5lb. CO2 tank and a cobra tap to serve.

I did fill the lid with expanding foam to make it hold the cold longer.  One big load of ice will last 2 to 3 days which is usually longer than the keg does.

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Offline oscarvan

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2011, 05:43:21 PM »
I am following this with interest as we go to an SCA event once a year that lasts two weeks, and it's outside and hot. This year will be the debut of my home brew so I have a stake in making it come out right.

Problem I have with the above techniques is temp control. Keggies need to be at a constant temp, 45-ish is my house temp, for the balanced pressure concept to work. In ice water they would theoretically be 32º, but unless submerged probably more, and not very controllable.

Same problem with the jockey box.......keggie temp all over the place (and waaaayyyy too hot in my case 80, 90º+) and pressurization all over the place.

How do people deal with this?
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2011, 05:53:41 PM »
Personally I ignore it.  My friends and family don't really care if the beer pours perfectly they just care that beer comes out.  :)

A bit more seriously, people are generally used to keg beer at an outdoor party being ice cold and not having much of a head so no one really notices.  I don't do competitions and I don't serve in a commercial setting.

As with any other facet of this hobby how much detail you worry about is up to you.  I make the best beer I can, roll in with a keg and then go throw horseshoes.   :)

Paul
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Offline hamiltont

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2011, 06:27:52 PM »
Problem I have with the above techniques is temp control. Keggies need to be at a constant temp, 45-ish is my house temp, for the balanced pressure concept to work. In ice water they would theoretically be 32º, but unless submerged probably more, and not very controllable.
How do people deal with this?
Ice water & a shorter beer line on the picnic tap. ~3 feet. The picnic tap is prone to foam anyway, IMO.. Cheers!!!
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Offline BrewArk

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2011, 08:31:29 PM »
I'm still struggling to get my jockey box dialed in for both temp and pressure. 

But I agree, very few people ever complain about free beer even if it is not up to my standards.

In France I wouldn't worry about it - they all drink wine & wouldn't know how the beer is supposed to be. ;D

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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2011, 05:53:10 AM »
A friend of mine built one out of a garbage can.  You could even cut a hole in the top and put a tower on it :)  The garbage can is big enough for 2 or 3 kegs.

As for temp control, chill and force carbonate in your normal setup, move the kegs out right before the party and RDWHAHB (while you toss shoes with Slowbrew).  The water/ice mixture works well to keep it cold, I've got some one-liter bottles in the freezer all of the time, use whatever you have on hand.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2011, 09:40:47 AM »
These are all things I've considered (I particularly like the garbage can with a hole for a draft tower)... But ideally I'd want something that I can just leave out there. Remember that my freezer is TINY TINY (8 cu ft) so frozen water bottles are difficult and I can't get ice in bags. Are there any options for something like cold-liquid recirc? I'm thinking along the lines of an all-weather AC compressor hooked up to some recirc pipes with glycol in them or something. Don't they make those jackets for lagering cylindroconical fermenters? Maybe I could get one of those and put it inside a big styrofoam box lined with plastic?

Or do I need another coffee?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2011, 11:49:02 PM »
I'd go with a garbage can then, you can insulate it on either the outside or inside.  That should help keep the kegs cold.  Can you get dry ice at grocery stores there like you can here?  A little of that will go a long way to keep your kegs cool for a few hours, especially with a little insulation.  Just make sure it's not directly touching the keg, Arlen at Rogue froze a keg of Charlie a few years back when the AHA had a rally at their Issaquah Brewhouse ;D
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Offline beerocd

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2011, 03:52:05 AM »
Same problem with the jockey box.......keggie temp all over the place (and waaaayyyy too hot in my case 80, 90º+) and pressurization all over the place.
How do people deal with this?

I have parties in the summer, start with a cold keg next to  the table sitting inside of a 5 gal igloo cooler with a bit of ice around it. (not much fits)  120 foot SS coil inside jockey box, I get great pours.
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Offline bfogt

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Re: Best outdoor all-weather serving method?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2011, 03:09:58 AM »
I had some engineer friends postulate about running a cooled channel of beer lines under our patio and up into a lazy susan style draft tower once.  Wouldn't that be fun and easy to maintain?

At the same party, a friend brought his beer from a long way away.  He uses plastic garbage cans that have handle which can hold a 1x4" piece of lumber with faucets mounted in them.  I know you're not looking for a temporary solution, but this was pretty nice.  Eventually, he added a drain some distance from the bottom to drain water off so the kegs wouldn't float a lot.  You could still tell when they were empty, though.

I was carrying pitchers from the basement, so he out-poured me at my own house.