From Mash Tun…to Jockey Box

Posted on October 27, 2011 by


Not long ago, near the beginning of a test kitchen brew session, our one-year-old, 20-gallon mash tun began leaking water. Not just a few drops, but serious amounts of this-will-flood-our-house water. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that many, many brews had worn the drain opening’s plastic beyond repair. Thus ended the life our blue mash tun. We moved on, bought a new, white, 30-gallon cooler, made it a beastly mash tun, and have been experimenting with that ever since.

However, the broken, rejected, old blue cooler has found a new life…as our jockey box. What is a jockey box? Essentially, it is a versatile, travel-friendly “box” through which you can serve cold beer from kegs that aren’t cold. To break down the confusion created from that sentence…

(1) Room temperature kegs stand on the floor or ground somewhere, probably arousing interest/suspicion.

(2) The Jockey box (simply put, a cooler with taps) is filled about halfway with ice cold water. In it sits a cold plate (heavy metal block that chills any liquid [beer] run through it). Lines run into the cold plate from the kegs, and out from the cold plate into the taps (we bought a 7-way cold plate, allowing us to tap 7 kegs at once).

(3) When the tap is pulled, beer travels from the kegs, to tap lines that go through a hole into the cooler, into the cold plate.

(4) Inside the cold plate, the beer chills immediately to an acceptable drinking temperature.

(5) Seconds later, the beer runs out of the cold plate, through more tap lines, through the tap itself, and into eagerly awaiting glasses.

The beauty of having a jockey box is the ability to basically set up a “bar” wherever you want. As we soon plan to host beer tastings and parties all over the area, it makes perfect sense to have a jockey box on hand that allows us to easily bring our kegged beer to our friends and fans.

So, the old mash tun went under heavy construction this week. We sealed off the leaky drain opening, drilled some new holes for taps and tubes, and frankensteined all the new pieces together. Born was a beautiful, “new” jockey box. Check out the construction pictures below to see the conversion in action. And look out for future tappings of the NSB mash-tun-converted-jockey box, proudly serving beer on the Night Shift!

Memories of the mash tun in its prime…

Mash tun undergoing
Idle tap lines, sad without beer in them
Through the tap line hole
Cold plate (even heavier than it looks)
Finished Night Shift Brewing Jockey Box