Brew Fridge – Part III: The Keezing
Its been a week since I tore into this project (literally), and now the reality has brought me back to ground. I’ve spent more than a few cheeseburgers worth of dough since I began brewing in January, and since money does not flow from a stainless Perlick, I’ve approached this project as frugally as possible. My ITC-308 controllers are a sunk cost at this point. I purchased them during the winter to keep the carboys warm in their cabinet.
This cabinet has been stellar so far. I picked it up from BT express for $175 and built a custom insulated rack to hold two 5 gallon fermentation vessels. The inkbirds were mounted on the door and set to maintain temperatures though resistive heaters when the apartment froze over. The cabinet also makes room for bottle conditioning, cleaning supplies, and all of my brewing tools and hardware. Best of all, it locks! I’ve used it as a mural for every batch I brew. I make a label each time, so this provides a nice impetus to schedule a brew day after life piles more shit on, and it also tracks the design evolution of my various styles too.
As I was saying, I have no choice but to keep costs low for the brew fridge. The problem is; kegging isn’t cheap. I have three kegs at this point, but no fittings, distribution blocks, faucets, shanks, regulators, or tank. Since I’m outfitting this with four kegs, this system is $300 through Keg Connection not including the tank and regulator. If I want some nice stainless Perlick faucets, I’m looking upwards of $500. The old adage, spend money to make money, is a concept I’ve had reasonable success with in the past. It’s how I procured those three kegs (among a metric shit-ton of other goodies) and actually made a $20 profit! This has proven more difficult with keg hardware in my experience. That is, until today.
My roommate and I have a C&K Brewing account for savings. So far, we’ve managed to put $100 towards our next purchase. The Keezer above popped up on Craigslist this week for $500. In addition to maintaining a clean and cared-for look, it include this system.
The keezer has four Perlick stainless taps, a 5lb CO2 tank, two regulators (one for serving and an additional line for forced carbonation), a handful of pin-lock fittings, distribution manifold, humidifier, and seven kegs. In addition are a bunch of other goodies including a brand new nitro stout tap, sanke D tap, cleaning suppliers, extra fittings, growler fillers, and more. It’s easily a $1500 system, and though my remaining half of this investment ($200) is a bit steep, I had to jump on it. I took the truck to pick it up and brought it back to my car port to begin a non-invasive tear down.
With the Keezer unloaded, I began taking the main system out. All-in, it took about 20 min. The Perlick taps required a couple turns of the wrench, and the CO2 system was simply screwed into the freezer collar.
The Perlick faucets are real phallic beauties if I may say so. I can’t wait to remove their tip condoms and turn them on for the first time, though I may seriously consider substituting the stout tap in the future. (size doesn’t matter after all). So, where does this leave us? Hopefully profitable.
The previous owner took great care of this chest freezer. He included the dividers and baskets, locking key, and original documentation. After a quick clean, it’s ready to go to a new home. If someone wishes to convert it back to a regular freezer, it’s a simple as removing the collar and turning a small screw in the thermostat.
Since I’ve always been a stubborn idiot, I chose my preferred kegs unwisely. I like the idea of a Sanke keg for taking to parties, and this one has a tap, so I have to keep it. I also like the ball-lock Northern Brewer keg I’ve procured. It’s quite svelte and I already have fittings for it. Rather than go buy more ball-lock fittings, I have a windfall of pin-lock style now, so I will swap out my other two tall boys for two of the squatter beauties. This results in an excess of six total kegs. Time for some math.
Not including gas and time, this project is now $500 in the hole. The side-by-side fridge was free, the controllers we’re on hand before the project began (sunk costs), and my shop has a lot of tools and scrap metal on hand. Assuming $500 has been spent so far, it’s time to call upon the Craigslist revolving wheel of fortune to determine my prize. Corny kegs have become expensive in the last few years. Refurbished, they can cost upwards of $100. With six on hand, I’m asking $50 each. For all six, I will let them go for $250. The freezer is not a new model, but it’s clean and fairly modern. Brand new, a 15 cubic ft chest freezer like this costs $400. I’m asking $300 with free delivery. Perhaps a fellow homebrewer wants to save the hassle of building a collar. I may even just remove the collar and convert it back to a chest freezer.
Best case, I sell everything for my asking price. If I am so lucky, my roommate and I will make $50 each on a four-keg CO2 system including stainless Perlick taps and shanks, fittings, regulators, manifold, and tank among other things. Worst case, assuming I let the fridge go for $200, we will have effectively spent $50 total on the aforementioned system. Our investment risk was $200 each (assuming the C&K funds were sunk), so it’s very likely we will make this money back. Remaining on our list are air vents, fans, wiring, and trim for the fridge. I’m pushing to keep this project under $100 for fun. Let’s find out in Part IV!