New bar room

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by Kzaker, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Kzaker

    Kzaker Initiate (26) Dec 4, 2018 New York

    First post here aside from my intro, which this is a modified version of...

    My wife and I host a lot of gatherings in our home. We have decided that it would be beneficial for us to add a couple kegs to our den/card room. I have done a bit of internet googling but still don’t know what I need (specifically). I have room in my basement for a chiller to store a couple 1/2 barrels, located within 10’ or so of one of our proposed tap locations... I also have a wall in that room shared by the garage that I could possibly fit a chiller for two kegs- neither is set in stone because I admit: I don’t know the fundamentals yet and don’t want to buy crap that I didn’t need out of haste. I am pretty mechanically inclined and have access to some commercial equipment for a refrigeration unit but from there- I’m not sure where to go from there. I see used brand name regulators?worth the savings?
    I see used brand name taps?worth the money?
    I have read about 5 different kinds of hose, single regulator or multiple regulators? And why multiples? Lol. I am looking at 3 used commercial towers with 1 tap each and keg adapters on each- seems like a good idea for the price since I would have to buy them separately but is it worth buying used? (Or is a single tower with 3 taps the way to go for cooling?)

    Between us and our company, we polish off between 30-90 12oz beers a week- sometimes more in the summertime so I’m pretty sure it’ll save some cash AND provide me some absolutely fantastic beer! I’m really looking to keep a keg of labatt blue light and a keg of Michelob ultra, possibly a 3rd 1/4 keg of specialty or seasonal.

    I’m Hoping someone will post a couple links to get me started. I did look on here but am unfamiliar with the layout of the page so I didn’t find anything directly like a “keg at home 101”. I am a fairly quick learner and have taken on a little distillation (of water and essential oils of course), built a fairly large still and operate it effectively with all of the variables involved in that so, I should be able to get a couple kegs running in my new TAP ROOM fairly quickly.

    I will do some reading between those darn adult responsibilities (and hockey games) and try to become knowledgeable enough to sound like I just might know what I’m doing:slight_smile:in the meantime, if anyone would like to help the new guy to some reading materials- I’d be grateful!

    I would prefer to buy much of my items used because I’d assume taps and such are rebuildable if they are of a brand name quality product to begin with.

    Anything I should obtain FIRST? I was thinking I could establish my keg storage location that makes cooling to the tower(s) easy and also a place that the taps work. It SEEMS easy enough to get it all together but I’m trying to avoid some of these issues I have read about on here associated with hose length and cooling.

    Thanks in advance!!

  2. DougC123

    DougC123 Disciple (313) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    There are installers who frequent the pages here, I'm not one of them. You have a lot going on in your message, but if I'm reading it correctly you are hoping to store the kegs in one location and dispense to the taps somewhere else. The biggest issue you have is the distance between the two, because anything beyond 8-10' (long draw) is gong to require gycol cooling for the lines which is costly and more complicated. People talk about getting forced air to work in distances beyond that, but I think you'll find it to be problematic. You need to figure out your distance first. Then figure out how you are going to cool the kegs as you stated - the most effective way to DIY that is using a chest freezer (keezer), although you need to test your arm and back strength if you plan on lifting half barrels up 3.5'. There is nothing wrong with using used parts, but putting in 3 separate towers is a waste of time, space and effort. I'd say focus your thougths on using the common wall, and then decide if you are putting a counter in that area for a tower. Another cool way to do it is put a shadow box in the wall and use shanks with faucets to pour. Very sleek look. Google 'through the wall beer taps"
    billandsuz and Kzaker like this.
  3. Kzaker

    Kzaker Initiate (26) Dec 4, 2018 New York

    Either direction, I can be within 10’. I’m going to check out warehouse tonight to see what is there for cooling unit: I really don’t want to lift them but it would be a deal breaker. I like the shadow box idea, it would go good with the 50’s style of red patent leather, wood paneling and stone walls. Thanks.
  4. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Remote systems are really not a DIY project. Well, they can be, but expect a lot of expense and headaches.

    Look at it this way.
    When a plumber completes a bathroom, the single most important thing to get right is plenty of hot water in the owners shower. If that doesn't happen, expect a phone call.

    When a draft system is installed, the beer needs to be the exact correct temperature, from keg to glass. And it must be the right temperature from the first ounce too.The flow must be the exact correct rate, and there is not way to adjust it either. The carbonation must be exactly correct and maintained from start to finish.

    Kzaker likes this.
  5. Kzaker

    Kzaker Initiate (26) Dec 4, 2018 New York

    I’m a plumber by trade and also do a bit of hvac, I’m hoping those skills will help me get it done without loosing an entire keg with trial and error. By the looks of it, I will be locating the cooler (commercial milk cooler that operates down to about 30 degrees (adjustable) in the garage, directly opposite the tap location and after looking at DougC123 suggestion of a shadow box, that is likely how it will end up installed. Going to rig a stainless steel box that I can install the taps on and MAYBE actually have a drain going back out into the garage into a bucket (not the best choice but it’s that or no drain at all). I do maintenance for a living and drink beer part-time.:slight_smile:

    billAndSuz: when you say “remote”, what does that mean? Is remote anything other than kegerator?
  6. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Hmm. I'll give you the downside first.

    If you have patience and tools you can install a glycol chilled draft beer system. Depending on elevation lift and distance between keg and faucet you are looking at $1,500 to $2,000 without the cooler. The add 25% to correct your mistakes. Then add $700 for a gas blender if you have too much lift or distance (how much is too much? depends). Then add $70 for a nitrogen regulator. Then add an unknown cost for rough and finish carpentry. May as well add $100 worth of Oetiker clamps you will be buying.

    A remote draw system is when the kegs are separated from the faucets, so yes anything other than a kegerator.
    Briefly, a draft system has 3, and only 3 variables that must be balanced.
    Going remote adds significant complexity and cost to the first three, and requires some knowledge and relatively minor calculations for resistance.

    Now, the good news is that it can be done and it is not rocket science or music theory.

    I know a business that works in New York too, so there is that.
  7. Kzaker

    Kzaker Initiate (26) Dec 4, 2018 New York

    You really make it sound so daunting:slight_smile: if the TOTAL run is 8’ with a rise of maybe 3’: where is there a need for $3000 worth of expense? I have no need for a supplier of a chiller unit, I am capable of chilling the lines from the cooler to the tap without glycol, which if needed- I would make one, I do some hvac work and have some experience with glycol (but why would I need it in the first place?) I THINK I know who makes quality taps and faucets but would be grateful for opinions and advice, I THINK I have seen enough examples of the correct size (and incorrect) lines: not that I totally understand why yet, I have no issue obtaining a certified regulator and co2 tank- what am I missing here besides the experience of making some mistakes and wasting some line to find the correct length and asking those with experience where I have went wrong? I’m not beyond calling in a professional but at this point, the system (in my 100% totally inexperienced mind) doesn’t justify that. Am I THAT FAR OFF?
  8. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    8 feet of line, if it is straight, is do able.

    You'll need a squirrel cage fan, and the cooler needs to be robust.
    We have a bunch of posts on faucets. Search in this forum. Dont install anything cheap. Believe me, draft beer should not be an impulse buy or a Saturday morning project. Take the time.

    You can try to make your own chiller, I've seen it done. Ive never seen it work. You can't use the cooler as the refrigeration. That won't work because it needs to be 29F glycol and the cooler needs to be 38... which is why air cooled systems are never perfect. For a homeowner it could be good enough though. After you blow 700 in equipment you'll find that a 700 1/7 hp unit is what you needed.

    A wall unit is not suited for air cooling unless modified or against the cooler wall, and a huge waste of energy.

    Look for a Pass Through tower for air. There are some that can be wall mounted if you get the short extensions and swap them out at a 90 angle.

    You need 1/4 inch id oxygen barrier beer tube.
    Its poly, google it Kuriyama brand is typical. You'll need s/s fittings, male to male. You'll need 3/16" choker line, its PVC beverage line, and it must be beverage line. You'll need a bunch of tail pieces, and those are unique... so here you need to figure the proper sizing... because a 1/4" od barb will fit a 3/16 PVC choker but a 3/16" barb is too small. Of course... and the poly tube is also unique. Because.

    You'll need a PVC pipe for the chase. Foam insulation. A blower bracket to mount the blower. A wall receptacle inside the cooler. It runs 24/7. The air goes through the tower and back into to cooler. It can not dead end. 30 cfm is plenty.

    Oh if I get some time I'll beer mail a parts list. This can be a fun job and I'm not trying to be a kill joy. Just realize you probably have less than half of the required experience. Carpentry and hand tools sure, but every part must work together and the vast majority are very specialized. You van not get any of it at Home Depot.

    Feel free to ask
    Mothergoose03 and Kzaker like this.
  9. Kzaker

    Kzaker Initiate (26) Dec 4, 2018 New York

    So instead of posting the message I spent 15minutes writing: ideally, what would a professional install in this situation? I mean, I’m not exactly sure how going through a wall and having the entire chase climate controlled is not a fairly decent option? Essentially, it’s a kegerator with 8’ of hose inside isn’t it? How far above the top of a keg is the tap on a kegerator? 16”? Is it a deal breaker if it were 36”?
  10. Kzaker

    Kzaker Initiate (26) Dec 4, 2018 New York

    And brass is ok for the pressurized gas side correct? I’m not excluding the possibility of a glycol chiller, just not sure how much of a benefit it’ll have at the end of the day...
  11. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    You don't need a professional installation really. You do need to be willing to spend a fair amount of time getting all the correct parts and designing this system correctly. That is the part that requires knowledge but not necessarily any new skills. If you have worked with Pex then this is not too far off. This is where things like, how do I get the lines to go into an air duct attached to a blower? How do I get the air to return to the cooler? How to I cut into a refrigerator without destroying the chill lines? How much choker? What line do i use to connect to the coupler?

    Brass is fine for gas side, everything must be pressure rated and the threads need to be gas tight. If the system is mostly horizontal you don't have to calculate lift into your resistance, but you still need to calculate the total resistance from keg to faucet so you can determine the correct amount of choker. Probably going to be around 6 feet in reality for a home bar.

    If this were my project I would like to see the cooler most of all. Forced air cooled systems are a compromise. The air is not very good at maintaining temp in the line, the beer warms slightly, the CO2 breaks out of solution and you pour 8' of foamy liquid until the clear beer from the keg arrives. Then you do it all over again in 10 minutes. It is very wasteful. A kegerator has 14" of air cooled space not in the appliance by comparison, and those too pour a slight bit of initial foam.

    The benefit of glycol is that it works. Your air cooled solution can, at best, sort of work. If it were an acceptable solution there would be no need for glycol. All this thing does is pour cold beer. One job. If that is compromised then the system is a failure. If you can live with dumping a half glass of foam, every time you pour a pint, then fine. Probably 90% of draft system problems are related to maintaining 38F from keg to glass. I can't stress enough this requirement. Even a 3 degree rise in the line will cause foam.

    Your cooler needs to be 1, cold at 38F 24/7 2, opened rarely 3, large enough to mount a blower 4, have enough cooling capacity to refrigerate more volume then it was intended for.

    What you can do is browse the Micromatic website, look at other forced air draft systems, get an idea.

    Don't buy retail from Micromatic if it can be avoided, good equipment terrible mark up. You may even want to establish a commercial account with your business at a wholesaler such as Foxx or Canadian Beverage Supply. They can be up to half price of MM, but also not really available to hold your hand.

    Kzaker likes this.
  12. Kzaker

    Kzaker Initiate (26) Dec 4, 2018 New York

    I’m going to shop around for components. I will also consider your very solid points about maintaining a 38F. I’m not sure there is anyone who is immune to leaks, but I work with a lot of gas line / pilot lines and air lines throughout commercial buildings as well as pex installs. I understand that much of these fittings are specialized for the industry, just as tri-clovers, PTFE, and silicone are to the food industry and distilling so I won’t be using JB weld on any fittings:slight_smile:. Since my milk cooler is no longer available, I’m back to the drawing board for a cooler (a refrigerant leak inside of one of the walls). I do have a dismantalled walk-in freezer that I can reassemble as a smaller cooler of fairly high efficiency, as long as I can find the other components to overbuild it (robust as you say). I have seen a few glycol chillers on eBay in the $500 range so like I said: not a deal breaker either. I’m weighing all options for the point of dispensing; I don’t want a BAR, I just need taps, it’s a room for playing cards and although spacious, I don’t want to add a bar area. I REALLLY appreciate all of this valuable input that you have provided and will be sure to take it down as notes. I don’t plan on doing this on Saturday morning so I’ll likely revisit as I move forward because (as expected), I’ll surely have some issue that I won’t understand why are occurring.