We’re creeping into Fall but I think ice cold beers are good any time of year so I thought I’d share this project while I had a chance!
My family & our close family friends were chatting about how much beer we needed for a cottage weekend and trying to figure out how we were going to keep it all cold without taking up all the fridge space we needed for 10 peoples worth of food.
A small at-home kegerator seemed to solve a lot of our problems at once and also seemed like a fun weekend project. Our rough step-by-step is below!
Kegerator kit - this includes the valves and hoses you need to connect the CO2 tank and keg to the regulator and the regulator to the tap. You can buy these online but we found ours from someone on Kijiji who was going to build a kegerator and hadn’t gotten around to it
Tower/tap and handle - this we did purchase online - this will mount on the top of your fridge and control the flow of beer
Mini-fridge - used is great for this, just make sure there’s enough room inside for the keg size you want along with the CO2 tank!
Top - we took an extra step and added a wood top to ours, cut from a garage sale coffee table
Drip tray - after a few beers it’s likely you overfill a glass or two with foam. Save yourself some cleanup by buying a drip-tray online and setting it into your top, you can just lift it out to empty.
CO2 tank - you can google the best place to buy or fill these in your area, you just need a small one!
1. We started by cleaning up the fridge and removing the door. The freezer portion of this fridge was a metal shelf but there was a coolant line attached so we couldn’t just cut it out. Instead we bent it down so it would be out of the way. Shelves protruding from the door didn’t give us enough clearance for the keg inside so we sawed these off.
2. Next we drilled a hole through the top of the fridge to run the hose to our tap handle. It’s really important that you figure out where the coolant lines run on your fridge and avoid cutting one when you drill - one leak and your fridge is toast. I’d recommend cutting through the top layer and then digging around gently through the insulation to make sure you’re clear before drilling the rest of the way through.
3. Our next step was measuring and cutting the wood top to fit and carving out a space for the door hinge.
4. We cut a hole for our tower to attach to and marked out where we wanted the drip tray to sit before cutting that out too. We added a spray sealant to finish the wood and protect it from any spills.
5. Next we used construction adhesive to attach our precut and sealed wood to the top of the fridge.
6. The tower was mounted to the wood top with screws and attached to the hose inside the fridge.
7. I thought it would be fun to add a decal to the front of the fridge so I threw one together with one of our family’s favourite sayings and cut it out with my Cricut. My dad utilized some of his car decalling skills to apply it.
You can typically buy kegs from the Beer Store in several sizes, our kegerator holds a 20L keg. Many craft breweries will also fill kegs for you, contact your local brewery and ask! When you’re ready to use your kegerator you’ll need to make sure your CO2 tank and keg are hooked up to the regulator and adjust a little to ensure the right carbonation. This can take a couple test pours while you get used to it.
Once hooked up you should be able to keep your keg for several months - assuming it lasts that long. Since we share our kegerator between 4 households we take turns using it for parties or events and then whoever had it last usually stores it in their basement or on a deck until someone needs it again.
Let me know if you have questions or want details on anything. There are lots of tutorials for these online but I really wanted to convey how simple this was. We spent about 3 hours and only a few hundred dollars putting this together and it’s gotten so much use already! It’s not terribly heavy when you remove the keg and CO2 tank and it fits in the back of most SUVs or hatchbacks with the seats folded down so it’s been feasible to move it between houses every few weeks as needed and even to bring it up to our rented cottage in the back of my dad’s pickup truck.
From a cost standpoint it is often only a little bit cheaper to buy kegs vs. cans or bottles but from a practicality standpoint it’s really nice that we don’t have to constantly keep tabs on empties, restock as often, or rotate beers in and out of the fridge. Calling this one a win!