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Reaching Men Through The Universal Language of Beer

Midnight Homebrewers League Jockey Box

Members who attended Club Night at the National Homebrew Conference saw the maiden voyage of the MHL Jockey Box.  Now, the jockey box is available for our members' personal use for non-club events, such as private parties, picnics, camping trips, etc.

The Jockey Box is a 48-qt. sized cooler with a "cold plate" (see photo below), hoses and fittings for up to four beer lines all pre-installed.  It allows cold draft beer to be served from non-refrigerated kegs. Though it has a 4-beer capacity, it comes complete with only two faucet and shank assemblies, ready to go for one or two beers.  You can't really see it well in this photo, but the two "holes" on the front of the box are actually stainless steel plugs which are easily removed if you wish to add one or two additional faucets.  To serve one or two additional beers, you need to supply the additional faucet/shank assemblies with barbed tailpiece connections.

Tests of the jockey box's cooling efficiency were pretty remarkable.  Starting with a keg at approximately 55, the jockey box dispensed beer in the glass at 37...that's refrigerator temperature.  With a warmer keg at around 65, the box served beer at 39-42...still very decent serving temperatures.  Pausing between pours helps bring a warmer beer's temperature down more because it keeps the beer in the cold lines a little longer..

Each of the four beer lines is color-coded to make identification of the connections easy.  However, there really isn't any reason to disconnect any of the lines from the cold plate, since the fittings are awkward to remove, and there are small washers inside which could get lost or broken if the fittings are removed.  Adequate cleaning can be done by pushing cleaning solutions and plain rinse water through the lines with CO2 from a keg.

The photo at left shows the beer lines extending out the back of the box, with the installed swivel nut fitting.  The beer lines are six feet long, and can be pulled out the back of the box as long as needed (up to six feet) to connect to your kegs.  If you don't need the full length, pulling the excess length back inside the box before you fill it with ice will increase your cooling efficiency (i.e. colder beer) by making as much of the beer lines as possible colder.

You will need to provide the keg(s), standard threaded keg connectors (to accept the 1/4" flare swivel nuts on the beer lines), your own CO2, and 32-45 lbs. of ice.

You can also serve commercial beer through the Jockey Box, but you'll need to remove the swivel nut fitting on the supply end of the beer line.  Loosen the hose clamp and it *should* come out using a pair of pliers on the fitting.  If not, go ahead and cut the hose as closely to the fitting as you can, then cut the fitting out of the hose section, and replace it in the beer line when you are done with it.

What's the deal with the baskets inside the jockey box?  They hold the cold plate off of the bottom of the cooler, to keep it from sitting in melted water, which could reduce its cooling efficiency...it should be in contact with as much ice as possible.  The bottom basket also allows the beer lines to be routed underneath the cold plate, which makes less clutter inside the box, and keeps the lines covered in ice which also increases overall cooling efficiency.  When you fill the box with ice, start by filling half-way, then pack as much ice as you can underneath the basket from both ends, and around the sides, then fill the rest of the cooler to the top.

Here are some points for consideration:

  • It is recommended that you use a standard CO2 tank & regulator, not the portable "CO2 injectors" that use small cartridges which are commonly used for homebrew kegs on the road. This is because you need a higher dispensing pressure (up to 20 lbs.) to push the beer through approximately 20 feet of beer line.

  • Secure your CO2 tank in an upright position.  If the tank accidentally gets knocked over, liquid CO2 could pass through the regulator and cause your keg to explode, risking personal injury and (worse), a horrible loss of beer.

  • When filled with ice, the jockey box can weigh up to 75 lbs.  Choose a sturdy location which will support this much weight.

  • Finally, the jockey box will work better (colder beer and less foam) if your beer is already cool (55 degrees or so) before dispensing through the box, especially if you are using it in warm weather.  It is recommended that your keg be kept in the shade, kept as cold as possible until you need it, and that you keep the keg in a tub, bucket or cooler with 8-12 inches of ice around the bottom while connected to the Jockey Box.

User responsibilities:

  • Repair or replace any parts or components which are lost or damaged while the box is checked out to you (the box cost the club about $275 to build, not including donated items);

  • Thoroughly clean and dry the cooler and beer lines when you're done with it.

  • Although the cold plate would dry out better with all the hoses disconnected from the cold plate, please do not disconnect them. The fittings are awkward to get to, and there are little washers inside the fittings which could easily get lost or broken if the fittings are removed.  Try to blow out the water with air or CO2.

  • It IS kind of a pain to clean the beer lines after use, but it is important to do.  If you DON'T want to deal with cleaning the box after your use, please include $20 (cash) for whoever cleans it up after you.

  • Return the jockey box promptly when you are done with it, so we can keep track of where it is, and so it is available for other members to borrow;

The box is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Official club events (such as tastings, Brew-Ha-Ha, Big Brew, BrewCamp, etc.) will receive scheduling priority over personal use.

To borrow the Jockey Box, please email Steve Kranz at stevekranz@comcast.net with the dates you wish to use it. 


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COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  The original works contained within this web site and our mobile site are the exclusive property of the Midnight Homebrewers' League and its authors.  It is our policy that the original works located here should be available for free to the public.  Permission to re-publish, reproduce or distribute any original works from this site in any form, is hereby granted under the following conditions: 1) such use is for non-commercial educational or literary purposes only; and 2) such material is used completely intact without editing, unless prior specific consent by us is granted; and 3) full credit is given to the Midnight Homebrewers' League and the material's author if so identified, along with our web site: http://home.comcast.net/~midnighthomebrewers/ .  All other use of our original works is by prior permission, or an advance payment of $5,000 which will pretty much guarantee our permission.  If you have any questions about any of this, I'd love to hear from you.

Web site maintained by Steve Kranz.  Last updated September 19, 2011

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