Building R.Shea Brewing: Week 14, November 3-9, 2014

Building a Keg Cooler

It’s time to build this thing!  The last few weeks I gathered materials with my Dad for the walk-in cooler for keg storage.   The cooler will primarily be for the draft system and in-house keg storage.  I also had to make sure it was big enough for some limited keg distribution to some local areas.  I chose a cooler for the draft system as opposed to a bunch of kegerators behind the bar to preserve space (they take up a lot of space!), to be quieter (don’t need to listen to three compressors kicking on) and to overall have an easier time cleaning the draft lines.

I have been using a kegerator at home for a few years on the pilot system and have figured out that I DON’T want to be using it on a large (though still nano) scale.  Cost-wise it makes no difference, getting two more kegerators for 12 beers on tap would cost me $2-3 thousand.  I can instead build a walk-in cooler WITH a draft line chiller/with lines for the same price.   Plus I now get to have serious keg storage.  It’s a no-brainer.

Cooler size

I have spent a few months thinking about ‘right sizing’ this cooler and running the math.  Yes, it IS all about size.

  • How high can I stack kegs and still easily access?
  • Given three 3.5 bbl fermentors and two 0.5 bbl fermentors at a two week average turnaround time running full speed, how many kegs, on average, will the cooler have?  What if I expand to four 3.5bbl fermentors (growth)?
  • A bigger cooler will take away from patron floorspace.
  • Making the ceiling big enough to stack three kegs while also allowing Jesse to not hit his head – but not tall enough to warrant taking down the drop ceiling.

These are the questions that needed answers.  I ran the math, and ran it some more.

The initial mockup of the cooler.  the circles represent kegs.
The initial mockup of the cooler. The circles represent kegs.

Above is the floorplan I played around with for nearly a month.  With this plan, I was able to get around 60-70 kegs in if you can believe it.  This should be more than enough for the first year.  Though this plan is predicated on the fact that I am stacking 2-3 rows high and will need a ‘keg jockey’ that is half dolly, half crane to lift kegs high.  Though with this, I can’t stack kegs directly on top of each other as I need space for the keg jockey’s legs to go under.

With that, we started the build.  John, my Dad and I started early Sunday morning.

*Note, I chose to screw everything together with decking screws instead of using framing nails.  I may need to move this thing in the future, I would like to preserve all the wood for something else or put this up in another location.

Building a frame of 2" insulation board inside a 2x8 frame with 2x4s as cross braces.
Building a frame of 2″ insulation board inside a 2×8 frame with 2×4’s as cross braces.
Filling in the 2x4's with rolled insulation after sealing the edges.
Filling in the 2×4’s with rolled insulation after sealing the edges.
John laying the subfloor.
John laying the subfloor.
Starting to frame the walls.
Starting to frame the walls.
The cooler is starting to take shape!
The cooler is starting to take shape!
Starting to feel like a cold-room in here.
Starting to feel like a cold-room in here.

This is about all we got done Sunday.  I ran out of wood for the ceiling as I forgot to figure in the wood I would need for the 2×4 headers and footers.  Duh.

The following week, my Dad and I finished the insulation of the walls and made the ceiling.

More rolled 2x4 insulation for the walls.
More rolled 2×4 insulation for the walls.
Sealing up the outer walls with another layer of 2" foam insulation.
Sealing up the outer walls with another layer of 2″ foam insulation.
Finishing up the inside insulated walls.
Finishing up the inside insulated walls.
Framing the ceiling.  We are making them in 4" pieces so that we can easily take them off if needed to access drop ceiling.
Framing the ceiling. We are making them in 4″ long pieces so that we can easily take them off if needed to access drop ceiling.
More insulation...
More insulation…
The cooler interior is sealed!
The cooler interior is sealed!
Nice!
Nice!

You wouldn’t imagine how much materials a little 15′ x 8′ cooler sucks up.  Optically it didn’t make sense.  With nearly 8-inch insulated floors, walls and ceiling, this thing will easily stay cold.

Next Week

  • Finish up the cooler floor and drywalling the outside.
  • Call the Feds to check on application status as it will be about a month.
  • Get fingerprinted for the State background check.
  • Order the CoolBot for the cooler
  • Have the brew system delivered.

Thanks!

A special thanks to John for the first day of building/framing – he did most of that.  I now believe him to be part machine.

My Dad also helped me with the doorway framing and building the housing for the air conditioner the rest of the week.  Thanks Dad and John!

Resources

Build your own cooler plans

The Coolbot

Keg Jockey

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