From Smeg-to-Keg: How to Convert a Smeg Refrigerator into a Kegerator

Converting an old refrigerator into kegerator isn’t a new concept. But generally, when people undergo this DIY project, they choose an old and ugly fridge that has decommissioned for the dump. But, that’s not our style. And it may not be yours either. This is why we chose to convert a Smeg refrigerator into a kegerator… or as I like to call it, a “Smegerator”.

Before we get started, here’s a quick video reviewing the process. I also wrote out detailed, step-by-step instructions below.

This is how we did it.

Please note: These step-by-step instructions will loosely work with that old, ugly refrigerator you bought off of Craigslist or have sitting around in your garage.

But for this specific DIY project, however, we will be specifically referring to the Smeg refrigerator featured in this article.

The only difference that may pose a problem for you is the amount of insulation that your refrigerator has. And yes, that did cause a minor, and unexpected, headache for us.

Additionally, when you buy a refrigerator-to-kegerator conversion kit, similar instructions will be included.

Gathering Your Tools & Components

The first thing you need to do is buy a Smeg refrigerator, as well as collect all the components you need. You can go about this a couple of ways. Either order all of the pieces separately, or order our “Smegerator conversion kit.” I’d recommend the conversion kit, as everything you need is right there and you won’t have any surprises in store for you (like we did… but more on that later).
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Growlers 101: Why Every Beer Geek Should Own One

Over the Memorial day weekend, I was walking into a local pub I like to frequent to get my growler filled. While walking in with this big container, a group of people stopped me to ask what it was and why I had it. I was a little flabbergasted that they didn’t know what a growler was, so I gave them a quick explanation of what it was and why I was bringing it into the bar.

And then it hit me. If this group sitting at a bar doesn’t know what a growler is, then surely there’s a ton of other people out there missing out on the joys of a growler.

While a kegerator is still my preferred method of drinking draft at home, a growler is a great way to take draft beer with you on the go. Or maybe just get to try a beer without committing to an entire keg.

Let’s take a closer look at what growlers are, how to care for them and why every beer geek should own one.

What Is a Beer Growler?

Simply put, a growler is a container or vessel that is used for the transport of beer. It can also be described as an air-tight jug, typically made out of glass, ceramic or stainless steel that allows you to take draft beer from one place to another without a degradation of quality.


A Quick History of Growlers

The origin of the term “growler” is the subject of debate, and likely, the true story will never be known. But as the story goes, in the latter half of the 1800’s, growlers referred to metal pails that were used to transport beer from the local tavern to an individual’s home.

Glass Growler

There are those who believe the term arose from the sound that the pail’s cover made from the escaping carbon dioxide, while others believed the growling came from another source. The latter belief is that either the bartender or the customer would be responsible for the growling, as the bartender was supposed to fill the half-gallon container with only a pint of beer, while the customer wanted to get a pail that had much more than just a pint. Whichever party was left dissatisfied would “growl” about the issue, hence the very apt term.

There was actually a period of time in which the use of growlers was outlawed, mainly stemming from the fact that children were often sent out to pick up a pail full of beer for their father. This chain of custody issue caused alarm in many of the same types of people who worked in support of prohibition, and the alarm led many cities to outlaw the use of these containers altogether. The growler eventually regained popularity, and the present form of container is among the most widely used for transporting craft beer from its source.


Types of Growlers

Like most beer accessories, there are a few types of growlers that you should be aware of. Knowing the differences between these different types will give you a better idea of which one is right for you.

2 Liter Glass Growler

Glass:
This is easily the most popular type of growler you will see people with. You can typically buy them in both clear and amber glass. Although, I would personally recommend NOT buying a growler made out of clear glass, as the beer is likely to go bad if it sits in the sun.

One of the benefits of using a glass growler, is that you can see inside of it which helps during the filling process. The downside of glass growlers is that they will crack, chip and shatter if you handle them carelessly.

Stainless Steel Growler

Stainless Steel:
This type of growler is very popular, as they are easy to carry around and unlikely to break if you drop them. The stainless steel build will help insulate your beer, keeping it cold for you while you’re on the go.

If you are going for a hike or camping with some friends, then a stainless steel growler would be highly recommended. The downside of stainless steel, is that you can’t see inside which may make it somewhat harder to fill.

Ceramic Growler

Ceramic:
This is another popular type of growler, but not my personal favorite. Aesthetically, they look nice, but they can tend to be very heavy to carry around and somewhat difficult to clean. Because you can’t see inside of it, you may have some problems during the filling and cleaning process. Unfortunately, ceramic growlers are still susceptible to chipping or breaking if dropped or handled carelessly.


4 Benefits of Growlers

  1. Easy way to transport draft beer
    Growlers are incredibly easy to take with you. Despite the many sizes and shapes, most growlers will have a handle for you to carry it by. Even when filled with beer, they’re not too heavy. It’s easy to carry and transport multiple ones at the same time. Since they are air-tight, the beer will remain fresh even when transported.

    Instead of trying to offer a description of your new favorite beer, or having to wait until the next time you both can go to the bar or brewery, that beer can be easily transported to your friend’s home so that you all can experience it firsthand.

  2. Bring Home Beer From the Local Brewery
    This one depends on the brewery and laws of your area, but one of the best benefits of owning a growler is that you can bring home beer right from the brewery. There’s nothing quite like that first sip of a beer that you got directly from the source. But keep in mind, not every brewery will fill up a growler for you, and those that do may likely have rules they want you to follow. So make sure you call ahead and verify that they will fill it up.

  3. Share your homebrew
    As homebrewing continues its rise in popularity, those same brewers will want to share their brew with their friends and family. Obviously, bottling your homebrew is a pretty easy method to share the joy. But what if you don’t want to put in the work of bottling, and instead prefer to keg your beer? Since this is my preferred method, I’ve had to cross this bridge before.

    If I want to bring my latest brew to a friend’s house, then I have one of two choices: bottle it or fill up my growler. Because I prefer kegging, filling up one of my growlers is the easiest way for me to transport my brew without completely ruining it.

  4. Tap a New Keg
    For bartenders and party hosts alike, growlers can serve a very practical and important purpose. When the keg begins to get low, the remaining beer can be put in one or more growlers. This enables a new keg to be tapped, while also ensuring that there is beer still available.

    For a bartender, this is especially important, as there will be no gap in service and the keg can be tapped without the stress of waiting customers. For a party host, it may take more time to tap the new keg or there may not be several taps available, so having growlers on hand will ensure that beer is always available to guests.

Top of Growler
Flickr: joyride1x1

The Importance of Keeping Your Growler Clean

This should just be common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t clean their growler after using it. If you fill a growler that wasn’t properly cleaned, then you won’t be able to experience the true flavors and aromas that the brewer intended.

In extreme circumstances of uncleanliness, mold and other nasty stuff may start to grow inside your growler. This is a sure bet that what you drink won’t taste right, or even be drinkable at all.

How to keep it clean:
  • Rinse it Quick:
    Directly after you pour the last of your beer, give it a rinse with hot water. If you can rinse it out pretty quickly after it’s finished, then that’s all you really have to do to get it clean and ready for the next fill.
  • Detergents & Cleansers:
    If you let the growler sit for awhile before rinsing it out, then you’ll want to use some sort of cleanser to help get it clean. If you do this, it is wise to not use a fat or oil-based soap. These will make it harder to completely rinse out, possibly leaving residuals behind that will, ultimately, ruin your next fill. If you have any homebrew cleansers sitting around your house, then I would recommend using those.
  • Consider Using a Brush:
    If it’s really nasty inside, then it may be best for you to use a brush to give it a good scrub. A carboy brush or baby-bottle brush will do the trick. However, it is not recommended that you use a brush with metal wires to clean a glass or ceramic growler, as it may damage the container.
  • Let it Air-Dry:
    Now that you’ve cleaned out the inside, it’s best to just let it air dry. I will turn mine upside down and lean it against the wall at an angle to help expedite this process. If you try to dry the inside with a towel, then you will likely leave tiny fibers behind, which will affect the overall quality of your next fill. It would also be a giant pain to try to hand-dry the inside of a growler. So, pack some patience and let it dry on its own.

Depending on where you take it get filled, they should offer to sanitize it for you. If so, take them up on it. Even if you just got done cleaning it out, this extra sanitization will help ensure that you get the best tasting beer. Unfortunately, not all places will offer this to you, so it’s still wise to make sure your growler is clean and ready before you even leave your house. If you do find a place that offers it, then you should continue going back to them, as they clearly know how to handle a growler.


How to Fill Your Growler

Now that your growler is clean, you may be wondering what now? First you’ll need to find a place that fills them. Unfortunately, not every bar that serves draft beer will be willing to fill your growler. A simple internet search should give you a good idea of what establishments around you will fill it for you. I’ve also found that places that have a great selection of craft beer on tap will sometimes fill a growler, even if they don’t advertise it to the general public. Just ask the bartender at your favorite watering hole and see what their policy is. You may be surprised at how many places will do it.

Once you find a place that fills them, just bring in your growler, tell them what you’d like and then closely monitor how they fill it.

Filling Methods

Filling your growler is more than just opening the cap and filling it up from the beer faucet. There’s a couple of ways you may notice your growler being filled.

  • Bottom-Up Filling:
    This is the more traditional method of filling a growler, and what you will see the most. The bartender will attach an extension tube to the faucet. This tube is then inserted into the growler and fills it from the bottom up, much like you would do when bottling your own homebrew. This method will lessen the overall amount of spillage and the filling time. Unfortunately, using a bottom-up filling tube may also increase the amount of oxygen inside your growler, leading it to go stale quicker than it should.
  • Counter Pressure CO2 Filling:
    Another method that may notice, is the use a counter pressure CO2 filler to help lessen the amount of oxygen. This system works by purging the oxygen out of the growler before it is filled. This helps prevent your beer from becoming oxidized, which will give you a little more time to drink it before it becomes stale.
  • Pouring it From the Tap:
    This method of filling up your growler consists of putting the growler up to the beer faucet, and simply pouring the beer into the growler. As you could imagine, this is going to create a bunch of foam head, possibly leading to a lot of wasted beer and a big mess to clean up. Not to mention the degradation of the beer contained within the growler in the end. This is not a recommended method of filling up a growler, and should only be used as a last resort.

Safety Concerns

As fun as growlers can be, there are some safety issues that you need to be aware of. Mainly, an over-filled or over-pressurized growler does pose a risk of exploding in extreme circumstances, including both hot and cold temperatures. If you leave it in a hot car or forget about it in the freezer, then it’s likely that the growler will crack, shatter or explode as a result.

Safety Tips:
  • Keep it at a Desirable Temperature:
    First and foremost, treat your growler like you would treat a bottle or can of beer. Keep it cold in the fridge, and do your best to avoid extremely hot or cold temperatures.
  • Do Not Overfill:
    You may be tempted to squeeze every single drop into the growler before sealing it. However, it’s recommended that you leave some space at the very top for the foam head. Most growlers will have a fill line etched into the side. If so, then it’s easy to know where to stop filling.
  • Inspect Before You Fill:
    As tedious as it may seem, before you take in your growler to be filled, it would be wise for you to look it over for any possible chips, cracks or dents on the container. Once filled, these may lead to further damage of your growler and/or the degradation of the beer inside.

Local & State Regulations

Depending on where you live, and the local laws of your area, you may have some trouble filling up a growler. Some states allow you to fill a growler directly from the brewery, while others don’t. Some states require your growler to be labeled with identifying information, including brewery name, net contents, production details and a government warning.

Some breweries and retailers are required to “exchange” your empty growler for one of their sanitized, but full, growlers that they cleaned in-house. While inconvenient, it’s considered a safety issue

Every state is different and has different requirements. The Brewers Association is a great resource to find out what the regulations are in your area. So, before you buy a growler, it would be wise to know what they will and won’t do in your area.

Other Articles You May Like:

How to Grow Your Own Hops

Growing Hops Right At Home Is Easier than You Think

Home brewing is becoming increasingly popular as more and more beer lovers discover just how easy it can be to a cook up a batch of your very own creation. An integral part of the home brewing process are hops, which infuse beer with its signature flavor. While some home brewers choose to purchase hops for the brewing process, many are choosing to grow hops on there own.

What Are Hops?

Hops are the female flowers of the plant known as humulus lupulus. Hops are used as a means of flavoring beer, as well playing a role in preserving the beverage. Hops offset the sweetness of malt to create a complex flavor profile that beer lovers crave. Depending on how much and what type of hops are used will determine how bitter a beer may be.

Hops were used as a method of flavoring beer as far back as the 11th century. Before then, many brewers imparted flavor to their beer by use of a variety of herbs and flowers. The resulting brews contained far less alcohol content, and were also more susceptible to spoilage. Today, hops are an integral part of the brewing process, with many growers taking a scientific approach to this age’s old traditional preparation.
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The History of Saint Patrick’s Day (And Why We Drink)

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of St. Patrick’s Day is aware of the fact that the celebration is inexorably tied to the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. While some may believe that this is just another example of lively individuals taking advantage of a celebration, there is actually a solid reason why alcohol has long been a part of the holiday that is now celebrated worldwide.

While there is a justifiable reason for drinking somewhat excessively in celebration of St. Patrick, there are plenty of misconceptions that surround the history of the holiday and the man in whose honor the celebration occurs.

Who Was Saint Patrick?

Saint Patrick is considered the most recognizable of all of the patron saints of Ireland, though he was not of Irish descent himself. St. Patrick was born in Great Britain, and was first brought to Ireland as a slave after having been captured and taken from his home.
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VIDEO: Love. Your. Beer.

From all of us here at Kegerator.com, we’d like to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. Forget about flowers and chocolate, here’s how we will be celebrating:

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The Homebrewer’s Guide to Secondary Fermentation

If you are new to brewing your own beer, it is important that you learn how the process of fermentation works and the steps you should take to make the perfect homebrew. For some beers, you may want to follow a secondary fermentation process. This conditioning process is a little more complicated, but if you understand the phases, you will be a pro-brewer in no time.

Here’s our tips for understanding the process of secondary fermentation, how it works and when you should do it.

Understanding the Phases of Fermentation

In order to make beer, you must allow it to ferment for a short period of time. The first few phases of fermentation occur fairly quickly. In the aerobic phases, or first phase, the yeast cells become accustomed to their environment and begin to multiply. This multiplication happens very quickly, but not a lot of alcohol is produced.

Oxygen is needed during this phase by the yeast for it to work. The first phase lasts a few hours and you will not be able to see what is going on unless you have a microscope. Once this process is complete, it moves into the anaerobic phase, where the yeast will metabolize the sugars into Ethanol and CO2. This reaction causes there to be foam, or krausen, at the top of the beer that is fermenting. This active phase of fermentation will usually last anywhere from a few days to a whole week.

Towards the end of this phase, the foam will subside and the yeast cells will die or go dormant, falling to the bottom of the container. However, not all of the cells will do this. A few of them will ferment slowly for several more weeks in the conditioning phase.
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7 Beer Products You Need for an MVP Football Party

Football Party

There are a lot of details to make sure you get covered before you host a party worthy of Sunday’s Big Game. After all, it’s the end of the season. A party is a must.

Regardless of what your football party strategy is, there is no doubt that beer is going to play a key role in your party’s success. There are a lot of different ways to can manage the flow of beer depending upon what types of beer your guests enjoy.

Take a look at this year’s top seven beer items that will make you and your party the MVP of the season.
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Top 10 Gifts for the Beer Snob in Your Life

The holiday season is officially here. The Christmas lights are up in my neighborhood, the house smells like a fresh tree and my daughter keeps asking me when Santa is coming over. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s definitely that time of year again.

No matter what you celebrate, it’s quite possible that you’re looking for gift ideas for that special someone in your life. In this case, that special someone is your favorite beer snob. Here’s a list of my favorite beer-related gift ideas that any beer geek is guaranteed to enjoy.

Listed in order of price, starting with the lowest, here are the best ten beer gifts to get for your favorite beer snob.
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The Story of a Turkey Farmer That Serves His Flock Beer

Last week, the story of Joe Morrette, a turkey farmer out of New Hampshire, made national news. For the last twenty years, Morrette has been feeding his flock beer, because he believes it helps fatten them up and make them tastier come Thanksgiving Day.

It all started two decades ago after a turkey knocked over a beer one of his workers was drinking at the end of the day. Without hesitation, his flock started to guzzle it down. As a result, he says he stopped giving his flock water, and has been feeding them beer ever since. He used to give them Coors, but has since switched to giving them an unnamed lager. He believes, as do his longtime customers, that feeding his flock beer not only makes them fatter, but also juicier and more flavorful.
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The 3 Types of Beer You’ll Find at NFL Stadiums

Football & Beer

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to the Houston Texans game at Reliant stadium. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a game in Reliant, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they offered a wide range of beer that didn’t have the world “light” in it. Of course, they were all over-priced, which is the norm for all food and drinks in a sports stadium, but at least they had flavor.

This discovery got me thinking about what types of beer the average football fan will find at their teams stadium. It is no secret, however, that certain NFL stadiums have far better selections than others. I would imagine that the stadium’s location plays a large role in determining what types of beer are available at the games. No matter where it’s located or how terrible the team is playing that year, there are a few common themes that can be found in all NFL stadiums.

Cheap Beer

Pretty much every NFL stadium will have a few premium brews available, but for the most part, the overabundance of cheap light beers will be what you find at every concession stand. To the surprise of no one, these are standard at every professional sporting event nowadays. You will find these more popular, mainstream beers available on draft and, in some cases, cans and bottles. Although, it’s unlikely they’ll let you take the bottle back with you to your seat.
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