Cold Box Rebuild

When I graduated school and my fraternity was unceremoniously booted from campus, I inherited some junk from the house. Among it was an old cold box that had seen its share of keggers. In case you're unfamiliar with a cold box, basically, it's the same system that bars use to deliver cold keg beer, just in a portable format. My system was set up for two kegs, and it mounted two taps to the front of this ancient cooler. I used it a handful of times, including at the infamous SposBash band parties during the summer. But by and large, this rig had been sitting in my garage, not getting a lot of use.

This past weekend's project was to get the cold box working again, so we could have it for the upcoming Underscore Holiday Party. Thankfully, most of the parts are simple brass fittings and tubing you can find at The Home Depot. The only exceptions are the fittings that go on the kegs themselves and the pressure regulator for the CO2. My pressure regulator was old and corroded, so I ordered a new one here.

The CO2 pressure pushes the beer up a hose, and it travels to a coil within the cooler. As it travels through the coil, which is surrounded by cold water and ice, the beer is cooled off. The coil is connected to a tap, which is where you fill your glass.

My first step was to get rid of all the hoses in the system and replace them. You don't want your beer traveling through hoses that have been sitting around with moldy beer in them for over a decade. I replaced the beer hoses and gas lines, and constructed new coils out of polyethlene tubing. My gas fittings were all good, but just to be safe, I made an entirely new gas system out of brass fittings, including three 3/8" ball valves so I can select each keg or shut the CO2 off entirely.

Finally, I mounted the taps to a new cooler, which I got at KMart for about $15. If you've never drilled into a brand new cooler with a 7/8" Speedbor bit, take my advice - don't. Insulation and red plastic gets all over the place. Thank God for Shop Vacs.

I'll post pics of the system when I remember to take them, but you can see it in action at the Underscore Holiday Party this Wednesday night if you're around.