Hungus Driling HolesFinished FrontIt is a bit embarrassing that it has taken me this long to finally invest in a jockey box. I would just always fight with keeping the keg cold and using a picnic faucet. While that works well, to serve multiple kegs of homebrew, a jockey box cannot be beat.  A jockey box is basically a cooler (or other insulated container) with draft faucets mounted onto it. There are two general methods of cooling beer inline which is either through a cold plate or a stainless steel coil. There are pros and cons to both methods. A cold plate is cheaper when running more than one faucet but does not have the same cooling power as a coil. Stainless steel coils have much more cooling power but are significantly more expensive and require a larger cooler for multiple lines. The coils can be built to different lengths to give more cooling power. A 50 ft coil has more cooling power than a plate but a 120 ft coil can continuously bring a keg at room temperature down to below 40 degrees. Generally the cooling length in a plate is 18 ft. Basically the longer the cooling line the warmer the keg can be. A keg through a cold plate should be in the 50’s, a keg through a 50 ft coil should be in the low 60’s, a keg through a 75 ft coil can be in the high 60’s, and a keg through a 120 ft coil can be room temp (or warmer but then you risk beer staling). Obviously this is just a rule of thumb and depends on the rate of pour. If you are constantly pulling that handle than the keg should be as cool as possible. If you are sporadically pouring beers then the beer has some more time to sit in the cooling lines.

There are specific ways to manage the ice/water in these two different cooling methods. When using a cold plate you should continuously drain the water and ensure that only ice is in contact with the plate for maximum cooling. This ensures the water that has been warmed by the beer is drained away and replaced with ice. When using the stainless coils, you should use ice water to ensure full contact on the lines. You can even add some salt to the water to lower the freezing temperature. Serving pressure also varies on the two different systems. Basically the longer the line length the more pressure you need to serve. This is not an issue, but you should be sure to turn the gas off or down if letting the keg sit over night. A common mistake when operating jockey boxes that are having foam issues is to turn the pressure down. Often times the solution is to turn the pressure UP.

Coolers pre modificationHoles DrilledSince I wanted a four faucet jockey box, I decided to go with a plate for cost and size purposes. My friend Todd built a mirror image version with me so that we can use this at homebrew club events for a uniform 8 faucets. These will also be used at my wedding in September! I started with a coleman cooler that was chosen because it has a drain plug and wheels. The first step was drilling the holes for the four faucet shanks on the front of the cooler. We used duct tape to ensure we were drilling along the same centerline and spaced the holes evenly apart. Once their positions were all marked up we used a 7/8″ hole saw to make the cuts. It cut through with ease. After the front was done it was time to move onto the back of theRear Pass Through Shanks cooler. We needed to make four more holes to mount the plastic pass through shanks. We decided to use these so that the beer line could be pushed back into the Rear Pass Through Shankscooler during transport. It also saved us a bunch of money over threaded shanks. Initially we wanted to mount the four plastic shanks along the top rear of the cooler, but realized that they were not as long needed and the plastic between the handle was thicker. This forced us to drill two holes on either side.

After all 8 holes were drilled we mounted the shanks. We were able to use rubber gaskets on the faucet shanks inside the cooler, but not on the plastic. I am going to look into getting longer plastic shanks in the future. This actually forced us to mount the internal nuts backwards so that the thread would catch. It looks a little silly but will get the job done for now. Next up was dropping in the cold plate and hooking up all of the tubing. I screwed the flare barbed fittings into the plate. There was no need to use teflon tapeFinished Inside since the flare came with plastic gaskets similar to how the keg quick disconnects work. We used 30″ of tubing to connect the out side of the plate to the nipple shanks Finished Inside with beer line pushed inand chose this length simply to facilitate cleaning. This would allow us to pull the plate out of the cooler. For the beer lines from the kegs we used 6ft of tubing to ensure there was plenty of line to reach kegs underneath a table. All of the beer line was 3/16″ internal diameter.

All of the gas connections are pretty standard so I won’t go into details about that. I plan on using a 4 way gas manifold from a 20lb co2 tank to run the kegs. Lastly I cut apart an old refrigerator wire shelf and bent it in half to make a stand that can hold the plate off of the bottom of the cooler. This will allow me to pack ice underneath and let the water drain out.

I purchased the cold plate from Soda Dispenser Depot. They seemed to have a pretty good price and it came with the barbs. The shanks and tap handles I purchased from Micromatic and the faucets, quick disconnects, and beverage line came from Adventurers in Homebrewing. The total cost with shipping for the entire setup was approximately $480. The real cost was a bit less since I already had the QD’s and two of the faucets.
Finished Rear

So I think I have a pretty worthy jockey box here. Wire rack to keep plate off bottomHopefully the plate will be able to chill my kegs fast enough. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter next friday night for its first test drive at the National Homebrew Competition Club night.