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baadpuppy 03-02-2011 08:41 AM

beverage dispensing
Let me preface this by saying that my driver's area is going to be completely closed off from the rest of the living space, with a door in between. There will NEVER be any drinking and driving going on.

My fiancee and I are discussing having beverage dispensing in our bus. This includes soft drinks as well as beer.

It seems soft drink setups are not too terribly expensive, and should pay for themselves in 3 to 5 years in cost savings vs buying sodas in cans at walmart. I think such a system is also nicer to the environment as there are no cans or bottles to deal with.

We'll also be doing some home brewing and want to put our beer on tap. Ideally, we'd like to have a 4 beer system with 2 home brew and 2 commercial beers available.

The obvious place for the primary dispensers would be in the galley or living room. However, I've been thinking that it would be nice to have a secondary dispenser accessible behind a locked outside hatch so that we wouldn't have to tramp in and out to refill cups.

I'm still researching this. However, I haven't (yet) found how to implement a 2-dispenser setup.

I have storage space set aside for the syrup boxes and kegs, as well as the CO2 canister.

I'm thinking I might also need to keep the soft drink CO2 canister separate from the beer one. Also it seems some beers require a CO2/Nitrogen mixed gas setup, so I might need to keep that in mind as well.

With soft drinks, there is a "cold plate" which chills the soda before it comes out of the bar wand. With beer, it seems you're supposed to keep the keg itself cold (38F is recommended).

Beer lines need to be cleaned a lot more often than soda lines. The cleaners are caustic or acidic depending on what you're cleaning for.

So, on the off chance that someone here has some *actual* experience with beverage dispensing systems (besides just consuming beverages that is), I thought I would post here.

Is it possible to use a cold plate type of setup for beer? Or do I *really* have to have the beer stored at 38F?

Is it possible to have 2 dispensers from the same beverage box? Surely it must be, and I'm just missing something obvious...

Is this idea crazy or cool or somewhere in between? :lol:


lornaschinske 03-02-2011 11:17 AM

Re: beverage dispensing
Here's a cheap one... just $2,867.00 plus shipping.

You would need to buy CO tanks (those are bulky) and the boxes of syrup ($38.73 plus shipping for a 5 gal bag/box).

You may get the machine cheaper off of eBay or craigslist (used... and these units are pricey to repair). The CO tanks are a PITA to get if you travel a lot and you would be buying syrup either from a place like Sams/Costco or Restaurant Depot. You will not be buying from the Coke or Pepsi distributor. They don't like to deal with the "little guys". I'm pretty sure that you would run into the same problem as a individual. I can't tell you anything about beer. David could since he was a bartender in FL. You can buy a beer on tap dispenser. It would take up a lot of room.

here is an eBay link it's used and only $500.

We just stick with canned drinks. We looked into the dispensers but decided it was too big of a PITA to deal with on the food cart. It simply took up far too much room.

baadpuppy 03-02-2011 11:43 AM

Re: beverage dispensing

I was specifically looking at this for soda dispensing:

Not the same thing of course, but a lot cheaper and takes up much less room.

For the beer dispensing, I'm looking at these:

These aren't quite so turn-key, but are reasonable sources.

I think just putting a T (or Y) in the delivery lines will let me add a second dispenser without compromising the system.

These aren't things I'll be able to buy and install right away. I will need to budget for them and buy them and install them later, likely after we've hit the road already. However, I want to plan the space now during the design phase. I think retrofitting would be a huge PITA.


Stuff 03-02-2011 03:01 PM

Re: beverage dispensing
you need this!!

lornaschinske 03-04-2011 12:24 PM

Re: beverage dispensing
Really, this is an video he may be interested in.....
How to Build a Beer Kegerator

Got to Youtube (or google) and search for "How to build a Kegerator".... seems lots of folks think those commercially made things are too high. You might want to do a search for how to build a soda dispenser... I'm sure someone has built them. It would give you an idea of what you might want to do and be able to allocate the required space for future use... or a cheap enough method to go ahead and put it in now.

indigo_k 04-08-2019 09:34 PM

Hey, Jim: I know this is resurrecting an old thread, but as a fellow home-brewer this is something I was just thinking about today as well. Trying to figure out whether a dedicated beer closet is justified, and kind of deciding that yeah, it really is.

Currently at home I use an old cornelius soda dispenser with 4 taps. I removed the cooling unit and fill it up with ice water when I really need cold beer (otherwise I just use a picnic tap and enjoy my ales room-temp). It's basically a glorified jockey box. As I was thinking about doing this in my someday-bus, I considered building out a whole insulated and chilled cold-room (just big enough for the kegs), like a narrow kegerator. It's much more involved build-wise than just using a jockey box, and would draw a lot more power.

But! When you mentioned possibly using a plate chiller, I realized that a built-in jockey box is exactly the right solution for me. I can add ice and water if I'm having guests or want to share the beer with campers, and I can leave it dry the rest of the time when it's just me (I don't make overly-hoppy beers, so they taste just fine if not better at room-temps). So thanks for that simple tip!

So, it's been a few years now, but I'm curious to see how you integrated your dispensing solution in your bus. Also curious about how you manage commercial kegs when traveling, since my understanding is that those have to be returned to the same distributor you bought the beer from.


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