DIY Jockey Box

Bringing your homebrew from place to place can be a hassle, especially when you're looking to pour more than a 12 pack where you're going. This is where a jockey box comes in. A jockey box allows you to serve five, ten, or even more gallons of cold beer on the go. Here's how to build one to bring to your next outing.

The basic workings of a jockey box are as follows. First, you have a cooler. The cooler is drilled in the front to allow for a built in tap (or several depending on your needs), as well as drilled in the back for the beer line(s) to enter. Inside of the cooler is a stainless coil in an ice bath, which will chill the beer in-line as it is served. With the basic picture painted, it's time to build your own.

The Parts You'll Need

Jockey PartsA Cooler - It should be large enough to hold the cooling coil (50 feet is ideal), but doesn't need to be large enough to hold a keg, as the keg will sit on the outside of the cooler.
A Stainless Steel Coil - Stainless steel is ideal because if the beer sits inside of a copper one for too long, you can leach metallic flavors into your beer. Remember to get a coil that will allow 5/16" beer line which will also fit your shank.
A Beer Shank Assembly - The shank should be long enough to fit all the way through the cooler.
Faucet & Faucet Handle - Your Faucet will attach to the shank and control the serving of your beer.
Beer Line & CO2 Line - You'll need a two portions of beer line for each faucet on your jockey box. One section of beer line to go from the keg to the start of the coil, and the other to go from the coil to the shank. You'll also need CO2 line to go to your regulator or manifold (again the amount depending on the number of kegs you're serving).
Keg, CO2 Tank, and Regulator - If you already keg your own beer, you should have these items available. If this is your first venture into kegging, you'll need those items, as well as CO2 and Liquid disconnects for your keg.
Hose Clamps - You can't have enough of these lying around. You'll need six per keg you're serving (four for the beer line, and two for the CO2 line).

Kegging-Central-Banner

Building Your Jockey Box

It's time to get started!

Drill Your Holes - Drill a hole in the back of the cooler to fit  your 5/16" beer line.  You'll want it to be snug as possible. Sometimes the inner lining of the cooler can be fragile, so try not to be too forceful when drilling. Next it's time to drill a hole for the shank. Shanks have a diameter of 1/4 inch, so it needs to be a different size than your beer line holes.
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Attach the Faucet - Insert and tighten the shank into place. Attach the faucet to the shank and the handle to the top of the faucet.

Insert the Steel Coil - Insert the coil(s) into the cooler. Attach the beer line to the barb on the shank, and one end of the coil. Use hose clamps to tighten the liquid line into place on both ends. Next the other section of liquid line from the back of the cooler and attach it to the other end of the coil. Remember to clamp it down as well.

Install the Back End - Run the beer line to your liquid disconnect and clamp it down. Run the gas line from the disconnect to the regulator (or manifold). Install your CO2 and you're ready to roll!

Using Your New Jockey Box

Once everything is assembled, and you're ready to serve your beer, you just need to follow the following steps. First, you should run some water through the system to check for an leaks. Once it passes the leak test, it's time to run it with your beer instead.

Run beer through the system until it starts to come out of the faucet. This will ensure the coil is full of beer. If you add the ice before filling the coil, any remaining water can freeze up and cause serving issues.

Now that beer is in the system, fill your cooler with ice. Be careful to no damage the coil by dropping large ice blocks on it. Add some water to the cooler until the coil is submerged. You can refill with ice as needed.

Jockey boxes work great for on-the-go beer serving, but they aren't invincible to heat. It's best to have your keg cool before hooking it up, and keep it out of the hot sun where the beer will reach undesirable temperatures. If necessary, use an insulated keg jacket or an external ice bath to help keep the beer cool.

Well, that's it! You're ready to take your kegs on the go.

written by David Doucette

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