Fresh, delicious beer on tap right in your own home — it doesn’t get much better than that. Which is why we decided to take a stab at building our very own Bespoke Post kegerator for our new offices.
You can buy ready-made kegerators, sure — and if you want beer on tap with the least amount of effort, then they’re a good option. But most can only accommodate one keg, are just as (if not more) expensive than building your own, and tend to look like dorm room mini fridges, which isn’t ideal for a sophisticated pad. So we opted to build what’s known in beer nerd circles as a “keezer,” or a modified chest freezer.
- Chest freezer
We went with this one.
- Commercial or home-brew keg kit
Be mindful of which one you buy, since kegs from your favorite brewery need different fixtures than home-brew kegs do to get the beer flowing, and vice versa. You could buy all these parts separately, but Keg Connection packs together everything you need and it comes as pre-assembled as possible, which saves a ton of time and effort.
- Five pound CO2 tank
Don’t bother buying a shiny, new, expensive one — find a used one online, instead. Most places that fill the things will simply take your new empty one and give you a used full one to save time.
- A pre-wired temperature regulator
This is what changes your freezer into a fridge. Most come unwired and require some soldering to suit your needs, but you can buy them ready to go if, like us, you don’t want to do that.
- Wood, cut to size for your freezer
- Drill with a 1” spade bit
- Caulking gun
- Paint roller and tray
First, unscrew the bottom part of the hinges that connect the lid to the freezer. You want the hinges to still be connected to the lid, but not to the freezer. Be very careful when you’re doing this, and have a friend help to hold down the hinge while you unscrew, since they’re spring-loaded and can jump up and injure you when the screws come out.
Paint the freezer with two coats of primer. If you were to just add a coat of paint directly onto the plastic exterior of the freezer, it’ll peel and scratch off much too easily since the paint can’t cling well enough to the surface. We learned that lesson the hard way.
Once the primer is dry, add two coats of your paint of choice. We went with black chalkboard paint, so that we could write beer descriptions and whatever else onto the freezer for some extra personality.
Now, time to build the “collar” — the wooden section that goes in between the freezer and the lid, which is where the faucets will come out of. You’ll need to measure your freezer and cut wood to size accordingly. If you’re well-versed in woodworking, you can do a mitre joint, but we opted for a humble butt joint to make things easier. Carefully measure and drill holes, then attach the boards with screws.
Our wood was slightly warped, which caused gaps in between the boards at the corners. Filling the gaps with caulk was an easy and cheap fix.
Once all of corners are joined together, lift it up and make sure it fits perfectly onto your freezer.
We wanted to add some Bespoke Post character, so we decided to paint the collar our signature orange-ish red rather than staining it. First step is to sand the whole thing thoroughly to give the primer a slightly rough surface to adhere to.
Paint the collar with two coats of primer and let it dry.
Measure where you want your tap handles to come out of the collar, then drill all the way through with the one inch spade bit.
Add two coats of paint to the collar and let dry.
Put painter’s tape around the edges of the freezer and then use your caulking gun to apply plenty of heavy-duty sealant around the top surface of the freezer, going all the way around. This is what holds the freezer and the collar together, so make sure to use plenty of the stuff.
Use a paper towel to wipe up the excess sealant that drips out. The painter’s tape should catch most of it, and any on the collar that can’t be wiped off can be easily painted over with a quick touch-up when dry.
Rest the lid on top and make sure everything fits like it should, then add whatever heavy stuff you’ve got laying around on top of the lid to exert pressure while the sealant dries. Let it sit for 24 hours.
Once the sealant is dried, attach the tap lines. The Kegconnection kits linked above are dead simple to set up; just thread the pre-assembled shanks through the holes you’ve drilled, screw the tap faucets onto the front, and tighten on both sides of the collar.
Plug your freezer into your temperature regulator — ours had an outlet built into its plug, like christmas lights that connect together — and then plug that into an outlet. Place the temperature probe in the freezer, ideally in a glass of water for the most accurate temp regulation. Set the temperature at about 35 degrees on your regulator.
Add in your keg(s) and CO2 tank, then connect your CO2 regulator onto the tank. Your tank should have come with a small plastic washer — ours was zip-tied on — which you’ll need to put in between the tank and regulator connections when you attach them to keep from leaking the gas.
Connect the lid to the collar by drilling holes and screwing the hinges tightly to the wood, just like they were originally attached to the freezer’s base.
Once everything is in place and the kegs are thoroughly chilled, you need to connect the tap and CO2 lines to the kegs. We used commercial kegs, so the ends of the tap and CO2 lines need to be attached to a coupler, which then attaches to the keg. Screw it on, then lower the handle on the coupler to engage it.
When you first attach commercial kegs, keep the CO2 valves — the little brass pieces on the regulator that can be moved to point either parallel or perpendicular to your CO2 lines — in the off position (perpendicular). Turn the knob on the CO2 tank so that it’s all the way open, and then very slowly turn the screw in the middle of the regulator counterclockwise until the PSI gauge reaches 10.
Now you’re ready to start pouring beers. The CO2 that’s already present in the keg may be enough to pour your first few. Once it stops flowing, turn the CO2 valves to the on position, which will take care of the rest. If you were to have the CO2 on right from the start, the beer would be over carbonated and your pours will be mostly foam.
And that’s all there is to it. Got any questions about building your own, or tips on how to make one that's even better?