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:
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 email@example.com with the dates you wish to use it.
Web site maintained by Steve Kranz. Last updated September 19, 2011