Let’s stop talking about our (my) problems for a minute and talk about something cool – like gadgets. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I have a problem when it comes to gadgets and tinkering. It could be that I’m an engineer and that’s just the way we work, but I think it’s deeper than that; I think it’s genetic. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a TV repairman back when there were actual vacuum tubes in those things (TV’s not grandfathers). And my father is always building, repairing or modifying something in his house – currently he’s bugging me to get some infrared emitting diodes so he can make a bunch of battery-powered Wii sensor bars…for real. It only makes sense that I’m a tinkerer – and infuse all my hobbies with that tendency. I put together mash tuns from Igloo coolers and made a little wort chiller from some cheap copper tubing from the hardware store. So what would be next? Behold!

3l-keg.jpg
You are a blinding brilliant light from heaven.

Now I may be biased, but that has got to be, without hyperbole, the coolest damn thing mankind has ever and will ever know.

Alright, I’m a little biased. But do you even see what that is? That’s a 3 liter soda bottle turned into a KEG! I’m just a tad bit excited about this, as you can see. Now I know this isn’t the most original thing in the world – a google search or a browse through some of the more popular homebrew forums will show you that this has been done before. Now you’re saying,”Well, so what? You did something that a bunch of other brewers already did? What’s the big deal?” To be honest, it probably isn’t a big deal, but I’ll explain what I did anyway and you can decide if it’s cool or not.

Parts:

3/8″ brass female tee
3/8″ brass close nipple
3/8″ brass couple
3/8″ threaded liquid-tight strain relief
3/8″ threaded quick-disconnect socket
1/4″ barbed quick-disconnect socket
2 x 1/4″ barbed quick-disconnect plugs
1/4″ barbed schrader valve
5/32″ vinyl tubing
1/4″ vinyl tubing
picnic tap
CO2 tire inflater
hose washers
steel shims
teflon tape
3L soda bottle

3l-keg-fitting.jpg
I am born anew in your genius.

Assembly:

This should be pretty obvious from the pictures, but I’ll run through it anyway. Wrap teflon tape around all the threaded fittings. Run the 5/32″ tubing through the tee (as shown) and slip the liquid-tight fitting over the “out” end and tighten it up (not too tight, you need the beer to flow smoothly). On the other side of the tee screw on the threaded quick-disconnect and on the bottom of the tee (where the tubing is coming out) screw in the nipple. Now drill a hole in the top of a 3L soda cap 5/8″ in diameter and screw that onto the nipple – it should sit tightly against the bottom of the tee. Put a hose washer and some shims in the cap and screw the coupler onto the nipple tightly (I used a wrench for this, everything else I just hand tightened). Heat up some 1/4″ tubing and push it over the “out” end of the 5/32″ tubing – this is a tight fit and may take some work, but it’ll go. Put the 1/4″ barbed female QD on the other end of the 1/4″ tubing and the main body is done.

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Nor indeed was the world, nor history, nor anything that the human eye has ever captured.

The parts that I added that I didn’t see on anyone else’s version of this “keg” are the quick disconnect fittings. I thought it would be neat if this could be treated just like your average keg. So take some 1/4″ tubing and stick a QD plug on one end and the picnic tap on the other and on another piece of tubing stick the other QD plug and the schrader valve. Now you can pump some CO2 in and dispense.

3l-keg-pour-1.jpg
Unbelievable. You are a modern master.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying to yourself,”A schrader valve and tire inflater? That’s not ‘just like your average keg’ at all!” And it’s not, but with the QD fittings I can get a CO2 tank and regulator and hook that up to this and then it would be just like your average keg – except very small. Small enough, in fact, to fit in the door of your average refrigerator if you got a paintball CO2 canister, which is my plan. I needed to verify that this thing would work before getting the regulator, though.

3l-keg-pour-2.jpg
It is like looking into the face of god and seeing him smiling back saying, “You are my most wondrous creation”.

As you can see, this does work. Not the best pour in the world but I’m just getting used to it. For now I’ll be priming the 3L bottles and using CO2 to push them but hopefully I’ll be able to force carb soon and can set the carbonation a little more precisely. Now you may be thinking to yourself,”This is cool and all, but how is it any better than / different from a Tap-A-Draft?” The answer: it really isn’t much different except for the ability to use a tank and regulator and that you get to put it together yourself.

Keep in mind, if you plan on doing this, that beer should not be stored in these bottles for very long. They are both light and oxygen permeable, so if you want to age your beer for more than, say, six months you should bottle them in brown glass or actual steel kegs. For beers that are going to be had young or for taking to picnics or parties, this could be a cool gadget to have around.

If anyone wants part numbers from McMaster-Carr, which is where I got almost all the pieces, shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll hook you up.

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Scrumtrillescent!