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May 22, 2020

How To Build a Jockey Box: A Step-By-Step Guide

Picture this: it's a warm summer day. You've finished mowing the yard. You're standing back looking in accomplished wonder at your finished product. The only thing that could make this moment sweeter is a nice, cold draft beer straight from your own Jockey Box.

With a few components and a handful of tools, you can create your very own. What's a jockey box, you ask? AND...what does it have to do with draft beer? 

Sit back, grab a bottle, and read on. By the end of this article, you'll know exactly how to get a quality draft beer, straight from the tap, all from the luxury of your back deck. 

What Is a Jockey Box?

 Simply put, a jockey box is basically a mobile beer system that is built from a standard, insulated cooler. Beer flows from a keg into the jockey box. In the cooler is a long coil attached to both the keg and a beer faucet. Water and ice are poured over the coils to cool the beer as it flows through the coil, producing nice, cold draft beer. 

Picture of a beer jockey box

Standard Jockey Box. Designed to pour draft beer from a keg.

With just a few tools a cooler, and some jockey box components, you could build your own in a short time.

How to Build a DIY Jockey Box

If you have an old cooler laying around your house, you can use a DIY jockey box kit to create your very own homemade jockey box. All it takes is a few tools and a little ingenuity and you're on your way to draft beer dispensing goodness. 

Materials Needed for a Jockey Box

The materials you'll need to: 

These are all the components you will need to create your DIY jockey box.

If you would like a turnkey option...here's one I'd recommend. Plus, the jockey box accessories needed.

Tools Needed for Jockey Box

To make a DIY jockey box, you'll only need a handful of tools that most handy people will have around the house. To make your jockey box you'll need the following tools: 

Picture of a Beer Wrech

Beer Wrench

Picture of a Crescent wrench

Crescent Wrench

Picture of a 1" Hole Saw

One inch hole saw that can be found at Home Depot

  • Spanner wrench ( better known as a Beer Wrench )
  • Crescent wrench
  • Cordless power drill
  • 1-inch hole saw
  • Magic marker or sharpie
  • Measuring tape

With these six tools, you'll be on your way to creating your very first jockey box. Next, we'll break down the steps to build your very own. 

Step 1: Measure & Drill

In this step, we'll break down the process of measuring for your drilling holes in your cooler. 

Measure

To begin, use your measuring tape to measure the width of your cooler. You want to be sure to mark the center of the cooler (towards the top). Once the center is found, use your marker to indicate where to drill the hole. 

This would be a good time to check the placement with your flange for the stainless-steel shank. This will give you some idea of how it will look on the cooler. If it is too high or too low, consider adjusting your mark accordingly. 

You will want to place a mark on the front and back of the cooler. Place a mark for the cooler coupling (back of the cooler) and the beer shank (front of the cooler). 

Drill

Once you have marked both sides of your cooler, it is time to drill the holes. Start by placing your 1-inch hole saw on your cordless drill. Carefully line up your drill with the mark on the cooler. 

Next, drill down through the cooler making a hole for your beer shank. You'll want to repeat these steps on the back of the cooler for the cooler coupling. Once you have finished drilling your holes, it's time to move on to the next step. 

Step 2: Connect the Beer Shank & Faucet

To connect the beer shank & faucet to the front of the cooler, you'll want to push the shank through the front hole of the cooler. 

Next, thread the lock nut so that the shank is firmly pressed up against the wall of the cooler. After that, attach your faucet and tighten first by hand, and then adjust tighter with your spanner wrench. 

Now, tighten the lock nut with your crescent wrench and make sure that everything is firmly in place. Once you've completed this step, you are ready to attach the cooler coupling. 

Step 3: Connect the Cooler Coupling

To connect the cooler coupling to the back of the cooler, push the cooler coupling through the hole and thread the lock nut on the back of the cooler.

Tighten the lock nut first with your hand, and then with your hex nut wrench so that the cooler coupling is firmly in place. Once you have completed this step you are almost done with building your jockey box. 

Step 4: Connect the Coil

When connecting the coil, make sure the parts are assembled in this order: hex nut, a metal ferrule, rubber grommet.

First, slide the coil inside the shank. Next, thread on the hex nut. Tighten using your crescent wrench until it is secure. Repeat these steps for the cooler coupling side.  

Using a Jockey Box

Once you have established that everything is in working order, you can go ahead and connect your keg, beer lines, and CO2. After that, tap the keg and let some room temperature beer run through the box. 

To make sure that the beer comes out cold, simply pour ice and water over your coils, completely submerging them. Make sure your coils are cool enough, under 40 degrees to keep beer from foaming.

Next, increase the psi until your desired flow is reached. Start at about 10 PSI with C02, and adjust. Keep it under 16 PSI. After this step, you can pull the tap and enjoy your draft beer.

Be sure to keep your jockey box out of the sunlight. You may want to purchase a sleeve for your cooler to keep the temperature regulated. Also, it's a good idea to keep your keg iced so that it is chilled coming out of the keg, especially on really hot days. 

Cleaning the Coils

It's important to maintain your jockey box. To do this, make sure you clean the coils after each use. This will clean out any residue that could build up in the coils before the next use. 

picture of steel coils inside a jockey box

Steel coils inside a jockey box

Step 1: Flush the beer out of the lines using an approved beer line cleaner. You should never use dish soap or any other cleaners containing chlorine, bleaches, or mineral acids to clean the inside of the coils. ONLY use approved beer line cleaners. 

Step 2: Use your beer wrench to remove and clean the faucets. 

Step 3: Rinse the entire system thoroughly with water. 

Step 4: Clean the outside of the coils with a mild soap. Rinse with water and wipe dry. 

It is vitally important to do these steps after each use to keep your jockey box clean. No one wants beer from a dirty tap, so take the time and clean those coils!

Jockey Box Uses

According to research by Business Wire, the global market demand for jockey boxes is growing at a rate of 6% since last year. This is due to the popularity of outdoor parties. 

Whether you are planning a barbecue at the local park, a backyard party, or a tailgate at the next big game, your jockey box is sure to impress. So fill it up with your favorite beer this spring and be the life of the party. 

That Was Easy

Now you know the simplest way to enjoy quality draft beer at home.

For the times to be celebrated, your jockey box will always be the winner at any party or social event.

If you're looking for more information on beer products, be sure to check back often. 

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How To Build a Jockey Box: A Step-By-Step Guide

About the author

My name is Kyle, I've been building, designing and installing commercial beer systems for 10 years all over the country. From small mom and pop places to some of the largest casinos and stadiums in the country. I've learned a thing or two and want to share it.

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