Kegerators, Keezers, and Homebrew, Oh My!

If you’ve already decided to start kegging and have stowed your cornelius keg in a bland old refrigerator, it’s really time you start thinking about a Kegerator.

I’ve seen them called Kegerators, Keezers, and just plain old Keg Refrigerators. What it really boils down to is a refrigerator or chest freezer with a special temperature controller that shuts the fridge/freezer on an off for a desired temperature. External taps and a drip tray are mounted on the outside Here are a few of the homemade Kegerators I’ve seen that just deserve a second look.

All these geniuses deserve a lot of credit for putting together systems that look awesome. I know that if I decided to undertake this project it would come in significantly over-budget and look like a completely ruined refrigerator!

On the other side of the spectrum, you can just go ahead and buy a Kegerator and get to serving your friends and family  right away. This is probably what I’m going to do once I get around to it. I don’t have the time or energy to handle building one myself let alone what a sub-standard build would do to my delicate ego.

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Brodie Sediment Extractor

Brodie Sediment Extractors
Brodie Sediment Extractors

How many times has this happened to you? You’ve created your perfect ale or lager, bottled it carefully, let it sit and condition for what seems like forever until the day finally arrives that you can taste your brilliant concoction. You pop the cap pour into your glass when….dammit! The yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle breaks loose and makes it into your beer!  Granted this is not a major emergency and the yeast wont kill you. But dammit yeast, I’m done with you bitches and I want you out of here.

The Brodie brothers don’t like to drink yeast from homebrew either so they created the Brodie Sediment Extractor. This little device takes the place of capping in that you attach a sediment extractor to your bottle and let it condition upside down. The yeast falls down into the extractor and when conditioning is complete you simply detach that part of the extractor with the yeast in it and pour your beer – sediment free!

I’m not positive if you would want to use this with certain styles such as wheat beers, which rely on the yeast as part of the flavor profile but I could see this working very well with nearly any other style. I know I’ve had a few ruined pours in my time where giant chunks of yeast fall into my otherwise clear beer so I can definitely see the desire for something like this.

33Beers Beer Journal

My first real beer festival was at the Penn Brewery in Pittsburgh Pa. It was a magical session of tasting a cornucopia of different beer styles and flavors, all produced in Pennsylvania. I made a mental note of all the beers and styles that I enjoyed best so that I could buy or try to clone them later that year. I was having such a good time I decided I didn’t have the time to wait in line for the free lunch. Things got hazy near the end and I remember sleeping draped across an ottoman back at my house for several hours. I was also greeted by an outstanding 10 pm hangover that kept me awake until the early morning. What beers did I enjoy most from that excursion? Hell if I know.

The gentlemen over at 33beers.com got it right when they created their beer journal. If you’ve every gone to a beer festival with intentions of finding styles or brands you would buy again, you’ve found that by the end of the festival your memory has failed you (for some reason).

The 33beers Beer Journal is a compact booklet that can fit in your back pocket. Aside from general notes and ratings this journal incorporates a unique ‘flavor wheel’ that allows you to visually represent how the beer tastes to you. This is important because it’s easier to fill in some dots on the Flavor Wheel while on your 20th sampler rather thank trying to make a note of or god forbid remember the characteristics of the beer.

The Electric Brewery

Electric Brewery Control Panel
Electric Brewery Control Panel

There are lots of cool ways to use electricity to improve your brewday. Heat sticks, Heat exchangers, and Automatic Temperature Controls can take some of the burden off of you and leave more time for quiet contemplation and drinking.

I have a partial electric brewery in that my hot liquor tank automatically heats itself to a desired level without any input from me. This is great because before that I was heating my mash and sparge water in a pot with a propane burner and then dumping it into the HLT. This became a real problem when I had kids because managing all these tasks takes a long time and is outright dangerous with curious monkeys lurking around.  My setup involves a March pump, a hot water tank heating element and a Ranco temperatur conroller. I based most this off of John P Subsavages designs and I felt pretty special about myself when it was done.

The Electric Brewery” on the other hand, is not screwing around. When I found this site (thanks Reddit) I couldn’t believe my eyes. This guy created a brilliant, beautiful brewing setup.  On top of creating this masterpiece, he provides a complete parts list and how-to on his website so you could do the same.  This setup and website are, in my eyes, perfection. It’s actually a little jealously inducing. Not only has this guy created a jaw-droppingly beautiful brewey AND bar. He’s done it while raising two little ones himself. Well played sir.

The overall cost of creating this system is under $6000 and that’s actually pretty great considering it’s made from all new parts, looks amazing and costs about $2 per session to brew your batch. I think with some Kickstarter funds and a Brewers license one could easily start up a Nanobrewery or small Brew On Premises business relatively easily.

Make Your Own Stir Plate

Stir Plate
Image Courtesy Of BYO.com

Brew Your Own magazine provides a great article on making your own stir plate. Having a stir plate allow you to keep your yeast starter in constant motion, thereby allowing the yeast constant access to it’s food source and oxygen. Your starter will end up being much more active and healthy which is good because it lowers the risk of bacterial infection during primary fermentation.

Another benefit of the stir plate is that you get to feel like a fancy scientist.

The stir plate is super cheap to make and possibly free if you have the parts laying around. If you don’t, mostly everything you need is available at your local hardware or electronics store.