How I converted a mini-fridge into an affordable Beer fridge for brews on-tap at my home bar.
The whole thing started because I wanted to enjoy homebrew on tap in my garage. I was getting tired of that medium range class of beer I call “garage brew”. What could be better than a pint of home brew with the boys in the garage?
So I dusted off my old home brew equipment, but it had been years since I used it. Most of the equipment was 2nd hand pots, pipes and tubing. Frankly it was embarrassing to be a grown man still using this stuff. I needed to upgrade so I bought a shiny new brewing pot and a massive, I mean really massive propane burner. So wonderfully, dangerously oversized. Anyway, I got the new brewing equipment (and SS kegs) and got about to brewing. Trouble was all this global warming, climate change I don’t really know but my garage would not stay cool enough to keep the kegs cold. So I bought a fridge…..
I entered my Visa number on the Homedepot.com website (here’s the number if you need it 86753098675 309) for a brand new Danby mini fridge. I had reserached this model and found many craft brewer enthusiasts chose this same model for an easy conversion into a DIY Kegerator. Also it was cheap (< $200). Anyway, I entered my order had dinner, went to work the next day, came home and the dang thing is sitting in the middle of my driveway. Glorius!
I grabbed that Danby and took it downstairs as fast as I could. I immediately starting tearing it apart. Didn’t even have a chance to enjoy that new fridge smell. The door interior had to be removed to make room for those bloated kegs that would soon reside inside.
The Following details the steps I took to convert a mini-fridge from Homedepot into a Kegerator worthy of my home bar.
Find a safe place to drill hole for CO2 line.
First step is to smother the outside with a mixture of corn starch and vodka. The mixture will dry quickly wherever a refrigerant line is hidden underneath. I found a spot (no lines) at the back left corner. It’s really the only good thing that can come from a bottle of vodka.
Drill from Inside first
Demonstrate an over-abundance of caution and drill from inside first. This gives you some extra time to stop cutting/drilling just in case you missed a line. The lines are closer to the metal exterior than the inside plastic.
Then drill metal exterior
Insert CO2 line into fridge.
Insert CO2 Tubing
I also added some internal bars to prevent the kegs from hitting and damaging the interior coolant plate. I’m overly cautious I know I know.
Find a safe place to drill hole for the Tap Tower
And more Vodka… Use cornstarch and vodka mixture to find a refridgerant free area on top. Most of my fridge top was clear. I then marked a spot 10″ from the left and 5.5″ from the back.
Cutout plastic from inside
Starting again from the inside, I cutout a large square of the interior plastic and cleared the foam to make room for all my bolts. Note: This pic is a step ahead but shows how the plastic was cleared.
Drill from top
Plastic board added for stability
The black pipe seemed to rock around too much sitting on the sheet metal top, so I added the board for more strength.
Build the Beer Tower!
Black pipe components were all 2″ diameter. Flange, 6″ straight pipe, two angled street pipes, T-connector and a 2″ to 1″ adapter for the ends.
Heat those 3/16″ lines to get them on
I used Stainless Steel Perlick 630 SS faucets and 1 3/4″ long end adapters.
Take a moment to marvel at the shiny faucet
Route lines and tighten fittings
Connect internal lines to kegs and celebrate with a Beer
It’s done and I love it. Was it worth all the time and trouble? Nope, not based on the money savings. Which is kinda like home brewing isn’t it? We don’t brew, clean and wait 3 weeks for homebrew just to save a few bucks. All in, I spent around $400 on the fridge, pipe and faucets. A double tapped Kegerator at Costco is around $500-600, so the savings isn’t significant. I do believe however that the quality of my finished product is much better.
The fridge is the same mechanically from the Kegerator but because I used my own labor I could afford to add top of the line Perlick faucets and the hefty 2″ black pipe. Tomorow the Amazon man is delivering a SS drip tray. Then I’ll make custom tap handles (Sommbeer logo attached). This is becoming a money pit and I know that it’s ok.