Mobile kegerator – draft beer anywhere!

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History

This all started in college when a few engineers (myself, a Chem E, and a Mech E) decided to hack up a fridge and pour black and tans in our house.  It wasn’t a complicated setup but pushed all the edges of different taps (keg couplers), different gases (CO2 and N2), different faucets (standard and restrictive/stout).  Clearly we found out that pouring Guiness in your home is kind of a pain.  That said I was hooked and never went back.

This progressed into several kegerator competitions at work (all of which I or the team I was on won) and one for a charity auction.  This developed a bit of a name among people I knew for eccentric beer pouring options.  This led to my brother asked to pour Guiness at  his wedding, it was in a park and I had to fly to get there so my options were limited…

The Problem

Most kegerators include the refrigerator as a coupled component of the system.  Obviously you aren’t going to fly with a fridge but you don’t need to.  Most people don’t want to just have draft beer in their home or office where the fridge is important.  Most of the time it’s a wedding, a Halloween party, a release party, etc.  I do find the older I get it’s harder and harder to justify a whole keg of beer but there always seems to be a good excuse for one.

The Solution

Get back to the roots, in the early days of mobile kegerators we used recycling bins to be able to hold the ice/water and the keg, wheel it around, keep it discrete (we we’re professionals and this was for “lush” week at the office).  We added internal refrigeration just because we were sick of constantly running down for ice, this isn’t a problem for a one off party so ditch the fridge right out.

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All this picture needs is a keg in a bucket of ice…  Ultimately the only things you need something are the gas and regulator, the keg tap, the shank and faucet, and something to mount it on.  Let’s break it down:

Tank

Obviously I couldn’t fly with a tank full of allygal (N2/CO2 – 75/25 blend – used for Guiness) but that’s okay because this is easily rented full of gas from your local welding supply shop.

Regulator

I prefer one with a CGA-580 inlet (common on larger Nitrogen tanks) and use an adapter to CGA-320 (common on small tanks and almost all CO2 tanks).  If you never have need for the 580 then you can buy a CGA-320 regulator instead.  I personally think that Micromatic premium regulators are the best but there are several out there and I’m sure they all work well enough.  Make sure it’s a double gauge so you can see bottle pressure as well as line/keg pressure.

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Keg Tap/Coupler

Again I think Micromatic makes the best but just make sure you’re getting the right one for the beer you want to pour Guiness uses its own, Bass uses its own, most American beers use the American Sankey, there’s a Slider, a Euro Sankey, etc.  This isn’t fun when you have a keg and no coupler…

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Shank and Faucet

The shank is just the metal tube that you can bolt through something and connect a hose to one side and a faucet to the other.  There are several strange options out there but really there are two, the normal one and the stout/nitro beer one.  I prefer stainless because everything else seems to add a small aftertaste but the stainless is a little pricier and the other do work…

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NOTE: All the way open, all the way closed!! A half open faucet doesn’t have enough space for things to flow as designed and will burst the CO2 bubbles on the way out creating a ton of foam, this is the most common newbie mistake on pouring draft beer!

The Mount

Mine was made with scrap MDF and some left over spray paint on a balcony.  You can weld a trick metal one if you have the equipment or go down to your local maker spot and 3D print one (or upload to Amazon and have them mail it).2015-08-13 09.51.11You need something strong enough to handle the jerk open and closed of a proper pour and that’s about it…

The Tools

Regardless of how much I want it to be true this can’t be pre-assembled and there isn’t some magic pressure for the beer.  You will have to assemble this thing on site and tune it as well.  There are only a few tools necessary but it’s worth having them in your bag to make life easy.

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  • Screwdriver to connect hose clamps
  • Faucet wrench to attach the faucet to the shank
  • Wrench to connect hoses and regulator

Conclusion

Draft beer is a passion of mine and something I have a lot of fun with, if this is something you’re into then here’s the recipe, get out there and bring some life to your next party!

Notable Pictures of the Past

How it all started: Left to Right – IT Kegerator (most techincal one), Software Kegerator (winner of IT vs. Software Competition one), Charity Auction Kegerator (nicest one).

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How it ended: This was the culmination of kegerator building prowess funded by cash and creativity of a financial and intellectual powerhouse… – Yes that’s a touch screen with active level tracking – 5 kegs – 10 faucets – waterjet cut sign, ground effects – and it’s all on wheels!

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Where it is now: Since it’s not at Microsoft anymore it’s been scaled down a bit, but she’s still alive and kicking!

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