Faucets and Shanks for Keezer

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by minderbender, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. minderbender

    minderbender Aspirant (212) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    I am building a keezer, and right now I'm in the planning/parts-acquiring phase. I have never owned a kegerator, so this is a learning experience for me. My goal is to be able to serve my homebrewed beer on tap. However, I also plan to keep a keg of seltzer on hand, and I might occasionally want to serve wine or cider on tap. Also, I sometimes brew sour beer. I imagine I will continue to bottle any beer that's really sour (since I consume it fairly slowly and it sometimes benefits from aging in the bottle), but I might want to keg sour beer on occasion as well. So in other words, from time to time I will be serving beverages in a lower pH range than you would get if you were only serving clean beer.

    My keezer will have four faucets (as mentioned above, one of them will probably be dedicated to seltzer). I am thinking about buying two Perlick 630ss faucets (currently on sale at Adventures in Homebrewing) and two Edge-Tap (manufactured by Krome) 316 stainless steel faucets (also available at Adventures in Homebrewing, but not currently on sale). I would use the Perlicks for clean beer and the Edge-Taps for everything else—sour beer, seltzer, cider, and wine (also sometimes for clean beer if I happen to be serving more than two at a given time). My thinking is that the 316 stainless is more suitable for the really low-pH stuff, while the standard 304 stainless Perlicks are adequate for clean beer.

    So my first question is, am I thinking about this correctly? Is pH a concern with sours/ciders/wines or would I be better off just getting 4 of the Perlicks? Or would it be smarter to get all 316 stainless so that everything is interchangeable? (By the way, I don't care about the effect that mixing and matching faucets would have on the appearance of my keezer—I'm just thinking about functionality, maintenance, etc.)

    My next question involves the shanks that I will need. First, I am going to get all stainless shanks (of course), but I assume that if I go with the 316 stainless faucets, I will also want 316 stainless shanks and tail pieces for those faucets (like this one). Is that right? It seems to me that it would defeat the purpose to go with 316 stainless for the faucet and then 304 for the shank. Also, that 316 shank I linked to has a 1/4" bore, instead of the standard 3/16". That seems as though it's not good, right? Should I try to find a 3/16" shank instead? (It's easy to find 3/16" shanks in 304 stainless but I'm having more trouble finding them in 316 stainless.)

    Second, my keezer collar will probably be an inch thick. About how long a shank would you recommend? I am thinking I could get away with a 3 1/8" shank (like this one), but should I maybe go with 4 1/8" instead? (The woodworking part of the project is still up in the air, so I might end up with a thicker collar, but the effect on the required shank length should be pretty obvious.)

    Finally, what about a nipple shank (like this one)? It seems good to me but there may be some factor I'm missing that makes it a bad idea. Maybe it's harder to clean?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
  2. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (443) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    I'm not a wine/cider person so will skip the ph-related concerns.

    Shank lengths should be the distance between the plastic flange (outside of keezer) to the fully seated lock nut (inside the keezer). This is the portion that will be concealed by your collar. If suppliers list that differently they should make a note (or someone should tell me I'm way out in left field). But that isn't total usable distance because you will be adding a hexnut/washer/tailpiece to the very end of the shank. That will take up another 1/4" of thread. So, through a 1" collar you would need a 1 and 1/4" shank. Realistically you'd go up to the next size (2") and have no worries. In my portable bar I mount a pair of 1" shanks through 5/16" plywood with plenty of room left over. There is a disadvantage of having too long of a shank, they get in the way when lifting kegs in/out.

    That said, a 1" collar is woefully inadequate (IMO). Wood is an excellent insulater, but more wood is excellent'er. I would also worry about strength. My collar is 1.5" with .5" insulation behind it.

    Shank diameter of 1/4" is no problem. All of mine are that size and fairly certain there is no operational difference from a 3/16". Larger is a mite easier to clean.

    I'm not a fan of having the tailpiece permanently attached. In theory it works, I prefer the flexibility of having it separate. I use a 90° tailpiece which allows beer line to come in from below . . . functionally it is identical to straight tailpiece. Cost a bit more but looks/works well and streamlines the interior.

    For a first build you'll be uncertain as to what works best for you until you start to put a few things together. I recommend buying one faucet/shank/tailpiece/hexnut and assembling on a scrap piece of wood. This gives immediate feedback on how it looks/works. Either exchange or buy in quantity once you see a single faucet in operation.

    You didn't ask, but spare parts are a biggee . . . remember, you will be the only keezer repairman you can call. Buying in bulk makes sense, I see where AIH sells their shank washer for $1.19 . . . look around and find them for about 30¢ (@billandsuz probably gets them for a nickel), you'll need twice as many as your faucets. Amazon sells a 100-pack of diptube washers for two bucks . . . don't expect to see them for 2¢ at a retailer. Bite the bullet and buy a faucet wrench, line cutter, and dental pick (o-rings), you'll end up with them and this saves some frustration.
    billandsuz and minderbender like this.
  3. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (386) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    It appears that you have thought this out well. My opinion and advice regarding faucets is that you could use either 304 or 316 SS. The Perlicks are great and we try to use them every installation. Except when we have wine or cider, then we like to use the Krome 316. But you are not serving 52 kegs of wine or sour a year on a line, and the 304 SS Perlicks will not corrode. At all. So don't worry too much about the grade of SS. You must use a good SS faucet and a good 304 is better than a no name 316. Same thing with the shanks. 304 or 316.
    If you like the idea of 316, no problem. The difference is no that great.

    The Kromes pour differently than the Perlicks. Not better or worse though. They are great for wine for example because they look elegant and fill a wine glass with velocity. It also makes the wine or cider offering stand out against a row of 20 beer faucets.

    You must have a flow control for seltzer. It is difficult to get good seltzer out of a corney keg. You really need a motorized carbonator (google McCanns Big Mac). The keg will have 80 psi of pressure, so it's going to flow out of a regular faucet like a fire hydrant. We use 1/8" line to gain as much restriction as possible and it is still difficult. 1/8" tubing is special order, for food grade and pressure rating too.

    I'm no fan of flow controls but the latest Perlicks are are a lot better than previous designs. Check out the Celli flow control too. They are Italian. Elegant. Expensive as hell. Rare. Completely different than anything else and loaded with small parts. But damn they are sexy. And they require a unique shank. Buy them together. We have 4 of them in service and just recently had to replace one after less than a year because the flow control broke. Could be the bar staff. Likely. Could be Celli is owned by Fiat.

    As far as length, tough to say for certain. Make sure they have a return policy. Just send them back if they don't fit. Each shank will protrude out the front differently making an exact measurement difficult. And if you use a nut and tailpiece, which you should, that will need a half inch of thread too.

    Why use the nut and tail piece? Personally I would avoid a welded nipple. Every time you drop a full keg into the keezer you risk clipping the nipple. They do snap. A nut and tail piece is a better idea, but if you are careful then sure.

    I think that covers a lot, but feel free to ask away.
    #3 billandsuz, Apr 18, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
    minderbender likes this.
  4. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (386) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    When you build the collar, place a corney keg on top of the compressor hump and see how high the top extends out of the freezer. Consider making your collar an inch taller. Then you can keep a cold one in there untapped if need be.
    minderbender likes this.
  5. minderbender

    minderbender Aspirant (212) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    This is all very helpful advice, thanks very much to both of you. I'm glad I asked before I ordered anything. I figured I would have to keep seltzer at a high pressure but I didn't realize how high, I am reconsidering whether I want to bother with that.
  6. KeyWestGator

    KeyWestGator Crusader (776) Jan 21, 2013 Florida
    Society Trader

    Goes without saying that Bill gives great advice, but I did exactly this and it was the best part of my build. In my case I used a 2x8 instead of 2x6.
    billandsuz and minderbender like this.

    BRUKER Initiate (38) Feb 3, 2003 Ohio

    Don't know if you've looked into them but check out the Intertap faucets. Similar but yet different from the Perlicks. I used them in a keezer build last summer and they work great.