Sunday, December 26, 2010

Major Score!!!

I have mentioned that I have decided to get into kegging my homebrew.  I have dutifully started doing research and comparing prices.  On a whim, I checked Craigslist for keggerators (the ones that serve commercial kegs).  There were three types or price points represented.  The first and most expensive were the commercial units.  While they were super cool, the cost was anywhere from $600 to thousands of dollars.  The second group were the specialty appliance category.  A specially made kegerator sold commercially for home use.  These are the units that are the size of a 1/2 barrel keg and fancy enough to park in your kitchen or recreation room.  The used prices on these ran $300 to about $600.  The last category were the home made and converted refrigerators.  These were solidly in the $200-$300 range, some slightly less without a co2 tank or some other critical component.  The problem with the converted fridges is that they also usually look like shit and come with a full freezer (who needs that?).

So imagine my surprise when late one night up pops a full kegerator system with an old school 1930's fridge for $100...not only that, the co2 tank is a 20 pounder (most  of the $200 systems come with 5 pounders).  The problem is that it is in Gilcrest, Colorado.  Gilcrest, in case you don't know, is about 50 miles north of Denver, about 3/4 the way to Greeley up US Highway 85.  I tossed and turned all night, and in the morning on a whim, decided to call on it.....and it was available, but I couldn't get out there until later in the evening.  I expected it to be long gone, and from the sound from the guy who was selling it, it had a lot of interest (no wonder, it is cheap).  I was surprised that it was available that evening, so I went to see it.

It was a beast.  It was owned by an old guy, who hadn't used it in 2 or 3 years, but it was set up by his son (who was a refrigeration mechanic) so it had good parts.  The fridge itself was a Westinghouse and yes it was from the 1930's or 40's, maybe 50's, it was beat to hell and dented on the top but it still ran.  I got the fridge, the 20# tank with some CO2 left, a CO2 regulator, a Sanke tap, a chrome plated brass faucet, a Miller Lite tap handle, a stainless steel drip tray, an empty keg, and all the hoses and fittings....for $100.  A similar system purchased new from Northern Brewer with a 5# tank and no fridge costs $263.  The 20# tank new would be $125, the regulator $75, the Sankey Tap$30, and even the drip tray new would be $30 and the empty keg will save me $50 when I go to get a new keg of beer....probably a $250-$300 value for $100.  I was feeling pretty good.

But, it gets better.  After hauling the fridge down to my home and muscling it into the garage for the night, I discovered that the fridge weighs well over 200 pounds!  I used to work for an appliance retailer and I used to move appliances by hand all the time, but I could barely move this 4 1/2' tall fridge.  I decided that there was no way this was going to fit in my basement.  I have my chest freezer that I converted for use as a lagering/fermentation chamber.  I can use that with very little modification.

So, I put the fridge on Craigslist....and sold it in an hour for $40.  I guess I should have asked for more, because it was gone fast and I had multiple people calling for it.  So, I got a fridgeless kegerator system for $60.  After cleaning all the hardware, I purchased new hoses, and new connectors, as well as the stuff to put homebrew in (the 5 gallon Corny Keg and connectors), but also bought a gas manifold to use both kegs (and future unbought kegs) simultaneously.  All told, I spent another $100.  All I need are a couple of two by sixes, a keg of beer, and another faucet or two, some time and I am in business.

I hope to rig it for use with one commercial keg by my birthday.

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