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first of all thanks for reading my question, so I did a jokey box a while ago, it required ice, and the kegs to be refrigeraated beforehand, it would serve rather well, sort of studied the thermodynamics of beer, now I want to build a different approach. I want something automatic and electric, in which I can swap kegs at ambient temperature. Like in this image:

Fast cooling process for beer dispensing

I have read about Glycol Chillers but it's like it's an extreme overkill because it seems that this kind of equipment is designed to be used when you have your beer very far away, and it looks like you need to have your kegs refrigerated =/

Do you guys know of any process in which I can plug a keg and it will be like some sort of aggressive electric heat exchanger with a pump which draws the beer from the keg and gets it COLD in a tower for dispensing?

Any input will be highly appreciated, cheers!

  • Wouldn't a regular kegerator work for you? – Robert Apr 29 '17 at 14:05
  • Hi, a regular Kegerator would be way too slow, I need to be able to swap ambient temperature kegs, and get them cooled by the equipment. I'm talking perhaps continuos flow of cold beer, something like emptying the keg in 1 hours or so, not enough time to get the next cooled. – Shoag_A Apr 30 '17 at 5:17
  • I'm curious what's the ambient temp? And what situation happens to not have refrigerated kegs to start with? Usually kegs are kept cold once filled to the point of sale. – Evil Zymurgist Apr 30 '17 at 14:10
  • We intend to use this dispenser in outdoor events, since we have for some other purposes anyway to have a power generator with us, it made sense to make it electrical. The reason that the kegs can't be refrigerated it's because sometimes the rules of some events say that everything that will be mounted in your stand will have to be there one day beforehand, like for safety of the visitors, nothing can be carried into site that precise day. Hence even if we start very early in the morning with cold barrels, they warm up through the day. Ambient temp would be 25 °C – Shoag_A Apr 30 '17 at 18:32
  • @Shoag_A we to have events like this SCHA this weekend for example. Our solution was to make large ice chests that double as the bar. Contructed from RMAX for insulation. Then a pond liner to hold ice and kegs. Ours keeps ice for 48 hours easy. – Evil Zymurgist May 1 '17 at 13:48
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If you have or can arrange an abundant supply of ice, this old-style (and low-tech) soda fountain solution may work for you: http://www.sodadispenserdepot.com/how-it-works/

Scroll down till you see the cold plate, OK? I looked into these because I happened to pick one up for cheap at a garage sale. Never actually used it, though, so I can't tell you how effective they are.

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In my experience the kegs need to be as cold as possible or pouring anything but foam gets hard.

Jockey boxes are the norm with chilled kegs but as the kegs warm up and the pressure needed to push the beer through 100 feet of coils tends to just blow foam from over carbonation as the beer Keg warms up.

I've been working on a beverage chiller plate using peltier chips for cooling, as an all electric jockey box. But I it's still sitting on my work bench as an unfinished prototype.

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  • Hi, we did experience this issue when we built the jockey box, and we did solve it like you say, you get your kegs cooled beforehand, I'm looking however not to do this :( – Shoag_A Apr 30 '17 at 5:18
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If you're looking for a self-contained electric solution (which it sounds like you are), you may also want to look at the "counter electric dispenser" type setup also mentioned on the page that Glasseyed linked to.

Note, however, that this problem is actually a lot more complicated than it first seems, and likely has no "silver bullet" answer. The problem is that carbonation of beer is a tricky thing (a lot more so than for soda), and just getting it cold before it gets to the glass isn't necessarily good enough. As beer gets warmer, its capacity to hold CO2 decreases. This means that if your keg is not at the correct temperature, it will not have the right amount of carbonation. When you reduce the temperature, it increases the capacity for carbonation, but this isn't an instant process (it can take several days for carbonation levels to equalize inside a keg when force-carbonating it, for example). The end result is that even if you manage to chill it to the perfect temperature just before serving, you'll be serving perfectly-chilled flat beer.

Now, you might be able to compensate for this somewhat by keeping the kegs at a higher pressure, which will get the right keg carbonation level at the warmer temperature. The problem with this is then that you'll be dispensing with an unusually high CO2 pressure, which means the CO2 will come out of solution faster when it gets to an ambient-pressure environment (open air), which means foam.

You'd also need longer beer lines to account for the extra pressure so that the beer doesn't come out of the tap too fast (again, foam). Also, the longer the distance between the keg and the chiller, the less the effective pressure will be when your beer reaches the correct temperature, which means it may well already have lost some of its carbonation in the line and not have enough effective pressure to push more in even once it's cold enough to want to take it. Therefore, you probably want to mount your chiller as close to the keg as possible, up the keg pressure somewhat more than normal, and have long dispensing lines after the chiller (which is probably going to be an interesting balancing act), but this also means you've got a lot more cold beer in the lines that needs to be kept cold until it gets to the tap, so insulation/cooling of the long tap lines is critical as well.

Even if you manage to get all of that right, I suspect you may well end up with a setup where the carbonation level keeps changing depending on things like how frequently you're pouring from any particular keg, and may just end up varying back and forth between cold foam and cold flat beer..

(I'd love to be proven wrong, though, so if you do find a solution that works, please do share!)

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