Kegerator - half price beer

My great uncle Bob had a kegerator about 35 years ago. It was a simple device wherein a quarter keg was hooked up inside of a full-size refrigerator, and he had a tap on the outside much like a water dispenser, except it dispensed cold beer instead of cold water.

For him it was a great convenience and part of his approach to frugal living. He could enjoy his beer anytime he wanted, and he could enjoy it in style - served in a glass. I remember well that he used short wheat beer style glasses that were commonly used in bars to serve beer.

Those were the days - fishing at the lake and watching my uncle Bob enjoy his cold beer at discount prices.

Well, those days of quality frugal living aren't necessarily over if you have one of the many types of beer keg refrigerators known as a kegerator. They're a bit more sophisticated than the old pump up style units back in the days of uncle Bob and aunt Winnie, but the idea is the same - cold convenience at discount prices.

There's a bit of investment up front for the equipment and the refrigerator, but from then on it's a beer tap inside your rec room, on your patio or inside your garage, and no more cans and bottles.

Expect to save about 25% to 50% over the price of canned or bottled beer, and expect your beer to be smooth and easy to drink when it comes out of a tap. That's been my experience.

My young friends Chance and Spencer are beer drinking aficionados. They have made their own beer keg refrigerator for their bachelor pad in Laramie, Wyoming by using a commercial kit like the one shown to the right, and a used side-by-side refrigerator that they picked up on the cheap.

Chance and Spencer have selected a full size beer keg refrigerator to satisfy their thirst and their interest in convenience and fewer trips to the liquor store. Their keg refrigerator holds a half barrel, which is about 15 gallons of beer.

I'm getting bloated just thinking about all the beer.

Here are some shots of their creation: Kegerator viewed from the inside.

A view of the all important internals of the kegerator.

Everything is hooked up and ready to go.

Temperature probe to make certain the beer stays at optimal temperature.

A temperature probe measures the inside temperature of the unit. The satisfaction of tapping your first keg.

The satisfaction of tapping your first keg and enjoying beer at half price.

If you want to build your own kegerator, here's what you'll need:

  • Keg coupler to let the beer out of the keg and allow CO2 in to keep it pressurized.
  • Hose (shown above in red) from the CO2 regulator to the keg coupler.
  • Pressure regulator (shown above in red) with two pressure indicators, one measuring pressure feed to the keg and the other measuring pressure left in the CO2 bottle (shown above as brushed aluminum with a gray top).
  • Clear hose from the keg coupler to the dispensing tap on the outside of the refrigerator.
  • Dispenser tap.
  • Drip tray mounted far enough below the dispensing tap to allow for pitchers as well as tall glasses to be filled.
  • Temperature gauge to measure the inside temperature of the kegerator.

For this kegerator project, Chance and Spencer spent about $150 for the kit, about $75 for the used side-by-side refrigerator, about $80 for a barrel of beer, and they picked up the CO2 bottle separately.

The half barrel is 15 gallons of beer, or 1,920 ounces. That's 160 beers that would normally cost about $1 a beer. Based on my rough calculations, after about 3 kegs, the whole outfit is paid for, and the rest of the beer is consumed at about half the price of beer in cans and bottles.

Chance and Spencer ought to have this thing paid for many times over before too long. Keep drinking guys!

My young friends suggest that 39 degree F is just about perfect for keeping the beer cold. They also suggest the CO2 line be pressurized at 8 to 12 psi.

They also warn that foaming will occur for the first two pitchers of beer, so use a pitcher to catch the foam and let it settle down into something you can drink. I volunteered to help them consume the first two pitchers so they wouldn't have to put up with the foaming from their next keg. A true friend will always be willing to "take one for the team."

Anyway, there are places to get these kind of taps. Chance suggests Micromatic as a good place to start browsing for a kegerator or the necessary equipment to create one yourself.

Enjoy your frugal living kegerator and it's nearly endless supply of beer, and of course, enjoy it in a responsible manner.

Here is an excellent video showing how the Micromatic equipment is installed and operated.

Done with Kegerator, take me back to Frugal Living Tips

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.