Some people have old refrigerators in the garage to store beer.
Kevin Dill of Davenport does, too, but he elevates the practice to a higher level.
Dill is a home brewmaster, making many kinds of beer with his own recipes and equipment, and he has turned one entire refrigerator into a “keg-er-ator.”
On the front of the refrigerator, he drilled four holes and fitted each with its own tapper, just like you’d find in a tavern. Inside the refrigerator, he placed four containers full of beer that are connected via tubes to the tappers. On the floor next to the refrigerator is a CO2 canister that delivers carbonation to the beer via tubes threaded through four holes drilled in the side of the refrigerator, plus the pressure needed to push the beer out when the tapper lever is engaged.
Below the tappers and on the front of the fridge is a “drip tray” made of sheet metal by his father-in-law.
“It’s so the floor doesn’t get sticky,” says 5-year-old Connor, who helps his dad with the brewing.
Dill is one of an estimated million-plus home brewers in the United States and one of more than 80 members of MUGZ, a Quad-City home brew club that includes both beer and winemakers. At 32, he is also among a new generation of brewers who have recently discovered the joys of craft beer.
We found Dill when he responded to our query, published in January, looking for people who own colorful kitchen appliances.
Dill rescued a harvest gold refrigerator from the curb last summer when a neighbor, who had gotten a new fridge, set the “old gold” model out for pickup.
That refrigerator is now a “lager-ator.” That is, Dill uses it to ferment his lager beers, which develop at temperatures in the range of 36 to 42 degrees.
Lagers are the crisp, clean, smooth-tasting beers, such as Miller High Life or Budweiser, that are most common in America.
Ales develop at warmer temperatures, in the range of 60 to 68 degrees. They are, as Dill describes them, “chewier.” They generally are cloudy, and “there’s more at play” in terms of flavor. Blue Moon is an example of an ale.
In all, Dill has four refrigerators in his garage, all dedicated to the storage or making of beer, a hobby he began about six years ago, quite by chance.
He and his wife Sue were attending a fundraiser for one of her co-workers who was battling cancer when Dill won a “beer kit” at the silent auction. The kit included beer-making ingredients, a cooler, a year’s membership in MUGZ and lessons from a live human being.
After that, Dill was hooked.
He now brews 15-20 batches of beer per year, has created his own label called “Northwest Division Brewing Co.” and buys grain by the 50-pound bag.