I really really love English beers through a handpump, but I wasn’t about to spend $400 on a beer engine until I had at least tried this out at home. I saw a BYO article about building a beer engine out of an RV hand pump and a pretty cool build on HBT so I decided to cannablize a wine-cooler that was collecting dust and build a beer engine/caskegerator (hand pump, swan neck, sparkler tip, cooling unit, corny kegs = Beer Engine Caskegerator).
It’s cooled by the peltier cooling unit from the wine cooler, and an additional PC fan. My basement isn’t quite cool enough yet so I am supplementing the cooling with some frozen 2 liter jugs which allows the setup to hover around 52-53F.
I had a swan neck fabricated by Zach at stainlessbrewing.com and added a compression fitting to 3/8″ MPT, I then jammed a sparkler tip on there and turned it to basically create new threads. After flushing the system a few times all the plastic chunks were purged out.
The pump is a Valtera Rocket Hand Pump that I got on Amazon for $28 – took off the stock spout and used a keg dip tube and o ring fastened on by the plastic nut that was holding the stock spout on.
I brewed an ordinary bitter for the Beer Engine Caskegerator’s maiden voyage:
Mash at 151
60 Minute Boil
90% Floor Malted Marris Otter (Warminster)
5% English Dark Crystal (Simpson’s)
5% Corn Sugar
54g Styrian Goldings 4%AA 60 minutes
17g Styrian Goldings 4%AA 20 minutes
17g Styrian Goldings 4%AA 5 minutes
WLP002, pitched at 62F, let free rise to 66F, kegged at 1.010 and let fermentation finish out while carbonating the beer. Gelatin finings.
Tastes perfect, bitterness is definitely there, but not in your face, has some hop flavor and a tiny bit of English yeast fruitiness, but finishes clean and dry with a hint of honey and breadiness that I think comes from the floor malted MO. Aroma is pretty much all malt/bread with a hint of sweetness/earthiness from the Styrian Goldings, the recipe might benefit from a late addition, but I wanted to brew a traditional ordinary bitter and I don’t think I’ll change a thing next time.