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Monday, June 14, 2010

Homebrewed Homebrew Beer Engine

One of the pieces of equipment that is both iconic and essential to authentic British ales is the 'beer engine'. A beer engine is a device to pump ale from the cellar where it is kept cold up to the bar. Originally used out of necessity, they now represent what many of us aficionados call 'Real Beer'. This means beer without tinkering, without preservatives, and without pretense (well, that really depends on the person you are talking to I guess).

The problem is that an authentic engine costs those of us in the United States $390 for a refurbished model. I've seen them given away for free in Britain, but not on this side of the pond. So, with that in mind, I went to go and make one. Many thanks to all the kind folks at for the inspiration and guidance. I'm not the first person to put this design together, and if I can help get the word out hopefully not the last.

The pump is constructed from an RV water pump. I used a pump called the 'Rocket Pump' that I purchased from Amazon for $28. Since it is too short for an Imperial pint to fit underneath, I constructed a small wooden box for it to be connected to. Beer lines are run to the inlet barb with is not hidden from the Publican behind the bar, and with a few pumps it pulls directly from the keg without the aid of additional CO2.

All in all a simple project, but one that saved me tons of money. The only piece I had to purchase was the actual pump. The stain, wood, nails, glue, etc. were already around the house, so for less than $30 I have my own method for serving real, authentic British style ales.



  1. How much line do you run? I have to wonder about what happens to the beer in the line. Is it costing half a glass in waste to pull a pint?

  2. I'm still experimenting with that. Right now it's about 3 feet, but I want it as short as I can since the kegs sit in an offset fridge. From the lines I've been able to observe they seem to usually be many, many feet long, so I think I'll be okay.

    The cask conditioned kegs aren't quite ready yet, so I haven't sent any real ale through the system, grain to glass. But, I don't think people mind if I cheat a little out of pure excitement :)


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