Like many men, I love beer. I mean REALLY love beer. There is nothing better than a nice cold pint poured from a tap at your favorite watering hole or restaurant. About a year ago I was finishing my unfinished basement and decided I wanted a bar, but I wanted to build it myself, and I definitely wanted to plant a stake in the craft beer craze.
I searched long and hard for any sort of plan or starting place, and I actually landed on a page called barplan.com. I browsed through their catalog and found a few that I liked, even though I ended up making quite a few modifications to things. I’m not going to go through EVERY step here, but this should definitely help someone do something that I thought would be incredibly difficult, and make it doable, and a great reward when finished.
The part that I used most of the plans for was the base and foundation of the bar, getting things laid out and started. After that, I was on my own, but having a list of cuts and dimensions definitely helped, and I definitely recommend that website for that, plus the estimates for materials. Minimal cost for MUCH less headache. There is also a forum there that was incredibly helpful when you get to the kegerator piece. Once I had the dimensional lumber cut and put in place, it was time to start the insulation process on the keg box.
I used 1/2″ thick rigid foam boards that you can get from any hardware store. They come in 4′ x 8′ sheets, and are relatively inexpensive. This coupled with Great Stuff spray foam was pretty much what I used for the insulation of the box. NOTE: wear gloves when you are using great stuff, and make sure you have on old clothes. That stuff is great, but it’s a sticky mess and will ruin anything it gets on. Also, try and do all of the spray foam at once, as once you use it, that nozzle will seize and the can will be wasted.
After the box was insulated, I lined the inside of the box with galvanized steel sheets. You can find these things in the duct work aisle of most home improvement stores. I think the sheets I got were like 2′ x 3′. This, with great stuff and foil tape completely the inside of the keg box. I also used clear silicone around all of the seams to make sure it was air and water tight, and could hold temperature. NOTE: I made my box big enough to hold two 1/2 barrels at once, as I wanted to have more than one beer on tap. Make sure your box can accommodate what you want it to hold, and include a few inches of clearance on the top for the tapper.
Because this plan calls for a refrigerator, you also need to ensure you are going to have electrical available for that. I ended up busting up the concrete and running a line in it (in a conduit) to the the wire to the middle of the floor so I could just come up on the side that needed it. I also got a few PC fans and a fan controller from MicroCenter (or any computer store) so that I could circulate the air in the box, and measure the temperature (which was awesome). NOTE: when I originally built this, you will see I had a mini fridge with the door off that I used. After about a week, I couldn’t get the beer cold enough for my taste, and the fridge was constantly running, so I scrapped it, and ended up using a compact freezer unit. MUCH more efficient and keeps the beer much colder with a lot less effort.
You also need a CO2 tank, and a regulator to control the pressure going to the kegs. Make sure you run your lines for the CO2 before you put your lower top on and secure your freezer, or it will be nearly impossible to do.
I decided to finish my bar with oak plywood panels. Definitely the more expensive route, but it looks great stained, and the oak trim pieces looked nice as well. I purchased the bar rail from hardwoods, inc, and had it shipped. You will see I have a split in mine, and that is because I couldn’t get the angle right on the corners. Long story, but build a jig for your miter saw so that the bar rail is sitting exactly as it would on the bar top when you are making your 45 degree cuts, or whatever angle you decide. Costly mistake for me, but not the end of the world.
For the lower bar surface, I chose a simple, cheap route, and went with some peel and stick laminate tiles, that can be grouted. This added a decent finish for this “working area” and if you were going to put in a sink, this is likely where it would go. I just didn’t have room and I didn’t feel like running the water line.
Lastly, the top coat was the Famowood Glaze Coat. This is an epoxy mix, and is definitely recommended that you have more than one person here. You need to be able to let it drip off the bar onto the ground, so make sure you cover everything you don’t want with epoxy on it. The directions included are detailed enough, but you have to work quickly, and you need to have a torch ready, because if you don’t torch the bubbles while the epoxy is setting, they will be there forever. Definitely the most stressful part of the project for me.
For the tap tower and keg couplers, there are lots of places you can go to get that stuff. I went with Kegworks.com because they were the most reasonable and had great shipping. I use the low profile Sankey couplers so I don’t have a fit problem with the top of my keg box. Works great for me. For the tap tower, I went with a double tap tower, and I upgraded to the Perlick stainless faucets, because they are the best. You can obviously do what you want here, but I think this turned out well. Definitely open to any questions anyone may have, and would love to help you build a great bar so you can have draught beer at your fingertips.