Kegerator Project 2 year review

unnamed 2 years ago I tapped my first keg. I learned a lot about pressures, temperatures, cleaning techniques with this project. Even though I’ve only had a few different beers on tap, it’s also pushed me to try more variety.   I’ve tried to stay local with what I have on tap. I’ve only ordered kegs from craft breweries. I started with 1/6 barrels, but moved to 1/4 barrels when I found it fit (just barely). The 1/4 barrels are a better value and allows me to not have to clean out my lines every few weeks.

In 2 years the kegerator has held 27 kegs:
- (16) 1/6 barrels
- (11) 1/4 barrels
-Totals - 1,354 pints (167.81 gallons)
- (2.5) 5lb co2 bottle fills
- (3) beer lines (replaced regularly)

Temperature.

temp

I’m nearing the two year anniversary of building my Kegerator. I’ve modified components, dialed in pressures, and stabilized temperatures during this time. Occasionally, during the hot summer months the temperature would rise and take a long time to come down if I opened the door or was swapping kegs or cleaning lines. I also had one close calls where the door did not have a perfect seal or the fridge was going through a defrost cycle and the temperature rose. Because of that, I’ve tried to keep the temperature as close to the low 30′s as possible. Unfortunately this lowers the amount of CO2 the beer and also masks flavor. Slowly over the past few months I’ve been raising the set point of my Johnson Controls temperature controller and right now I’m hovering around 40*. Keeping it between 38* and 40* is a safe point where there should be no spoilage, but the carbonation and flavor is not diminished. Allowing the beer to sit for a bit to warm up gets it right to a sweet spot, at least for the IPA’s I normally keep on tap.

To monitor this a little closer I’ve placed a Pinoccio scout in the kegerator to report the temperature. I have to play with the placement of the scout for the sake of accuracy. Right now it’s resting on the plastic handle of my CO2 bottle, which is nearly in the middle of the refrigerator. The Pinoccio usually reads a few degrees higher than the Johnson Controls Controller. The scout talks via a mesh network to another scout that is connected to a USB port for constant power. That second scout has a WiFi board on it and talks to the internet. The temperature reading is displayed on the header of this website in real time. The only hurdle I have to pass is implementing a sleep setting when Pinoccio includes that function in their API. The scout in the kegerator is running on battery and only lasts for 3 days. Setting it to sleep and wake up every so often will greatly extend the battery life.

A week without the Mac Pro

macpro

Back on July 4th the video card in my 2008 Mac Pro died.  Luckily the card was an Nvidia 8800 GT and was completely replaceable.  Unfortunately it took a week to receive the upgrade ATI Radeon 5770 HD card.  In that week I was able to do almost everything except for budget/bills work because of the software and files I keep on the Mac Pro.  My home office was a little cooler as well, the Mac Pro acts as a mini-furnace.

I reflected on this specific computer during this process.  I’m torn.  This machine has been the longest running “main” computer.  I’ve been using it for over 5 years now, and except for the video card, it has been trouble-free.

The though of the ‘silo’ style Mac Pro is promising.  Great performance.  But very little internal storage and few replaceable parts (memory/SSD only).  I suspect one day I’ll have to make the jump.  When my 2008 Mac Pro won’t support the current OS X, or it has unrepairable hardware problem, I’ll have to upgrade.  It’ll be missed when it happens.

ACTC 10.8

Certified_Tech_Coord_10

Between being busy at work and home it’s been harder to keep up with education and certifications.  Luckily Apple makes recertifying a painless process.  As I mentioned when I took the OS X 10.7 test, the annual release cycle make for odd timelines.  I had almost been using OS X 10.8 for over 8 months by the time I took the test.  I did some minimal review and ‘winged’ it with good results.  The cycle starts all over again as I turn my focus to OS X 10.9.

Now tapping 1/4 Barrels

vin I put a dozen 1/6 barrels through the kegerator before I took the plunge towards the 1/4 barrel. According to the measurements on the internet it shouldn’t fit with my mini fridge. It was close enough though that my local supplier talked Capital Brewery into bringing over Continue…

The Sanitation Department

sanitation

Recently I made a big change in my sanitation process for the kegerator and I’ve been very happy with the results. For the first 10 of so 1/6 barrels I religiously ran a powder based sanitizer and rinse through the beer lines between each keg. Continue…

Decode co2 Bottle Markings

bottle-stamps

After a dozen 1/6 barrel kegs I knew my co2 pressure was a little low. Normally the gauge was 500 psi. Before this last keg went in it was a little lower and after the keg was empty the co2 bottle was reading really low. However there was still gas in the bottle. Continue…

Kegerator Update

It’s been a few months since I’ve built my kegerator. I’ve put about 31 gallons of beer through it, mostly Sam Adams Summer Ale, but I did take a crack at a keg of Boulder Brewing Co’s Mojo IPA. For fathers day my wife and son got me a drip tray along with a Sam Adams Seasonal tap handle. As we approach the fall season I picked up my first Oktoberfest keg and decided it was time for some maintenance. Between each keg I’ve ran cleaner and rinse through my beer line along with cleaning the faucet and coupler. The chrome plated brass shank had seen better days and all of the chrome flaked off and ended up as floaters in a pint every so often. Continue…

Blast from the past

Recently I was digging through some older CDs and came across this gem. It was the first Linux distro that I downloaded and installed.

I had picked up an old computer from a friend and installed it and had it running on my home network. My NT4 server that was soon loaded with Win2k was more useful at the time so the RHL box faded away. Surprisingly, 14 years later the disc still works and I created a VM from it. It doesn’t recognize the VMware NIC so there is not much that the VM can be used for, but it was just interesting to briefly ‘go back in time’.
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Kegerator Build Project

Recently I was given a Danby DAR452BL mini fridge by a friend. This fridge lacked a freezer compartment and made the perfect base to for a kegerator project. I first tested it over night to see how cold it could really get, I needed it to hold in the low 30′s. Anything below 30F would result in frozen beer, and anything over 38F would cause excessive foaming as the co2 escapes the beer. I made two modifications to the fridge itself after removing all the shelves and the light bulb.
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