Build A Bier Wagen

My wife and I throw our annual Strausstoberfest party every year on the last Saturday in September. This occurs during the traditional Oktoberfest celebration. Oktoberfest is synonymous with beer, awesome food and a certain amount of over the top pomp and circumstance. For the last part, I decided that the beer I’ve spent the last couple of months caring for MUST have a grand entrance. With that in mind, I present you with my design for a bierwagen to roll your keezer around on.

I had several constraints when designing the cart, starting with a few obstacles to navigate around during its trip from the garage to the backyard.

• It must fit through our gate.
• It must be able to navigate large bumps (edge of driveway and protruding tree roots in the grass).
• It must allow quick assembly and disassembly for storage under our deck during the other 364 days of the year.
• It must utilize our bike tires.
• It must have an integrated ramp system for easy loading/unloading of my keezer dolly.
• It must be sturdy enough to stand on to switch over kegs during the party.

In addition to these, the weight of the keezer must be carefully balanced so that the bierwagen does not tip when set to rest, yet far enough back that lifting from the front is easy.

Materials and Tools
(6) 2×4 boards, 8-feet (2.4 m) long
2.5-inch drywall/deck screws
L-channel (AKA angle iron or L bracket)
(8) 3⁄16-inch lag bolts and washers
(4) Thick washers with approximately 1⁄2-inch inner diameter (will vary depending on your bike axles)
Circular saw or miter saw
Hack saw or cut off saw
Step bit
Other common woodworking tools
* You will also need a keezer and dolly to roll your keezer into place to utilize the bierwagen.

Step 1: Cut list
Illustration 1 (found below) shows the cut list if you wish to make your bierwagen the same dimensions as mine. I was able to build my cart from a quantity of six 2×4 boards, eight feet (2.4 m) long. The color-coding in Illustration 1 correlates with Illustrations 2 and 3. Where:

Black = Frame
Pink = Cross-member supports
Blue = Legs
Gray = Bicycle tires
Purple = Keezer on dolly base
Red = Estimated scraps

The legs and cross-member supports required mitered ends. The lengths shown are for the full-length board that you will then trim the angles in the boards. Of course, your keezer is most likely a different size and you may not even have a keezer dolly, so take my plans and modify them to suit your needs. The cut list is in an ideal world, so you may have to buy an extra 2×4 or if you are like me, you’ve always got some on hand for whatever needs may pop up.

Illustation 1

Step 2: Assemble Frame
Use the following illustrations (2&3) as your guide to build the base.

Illustrations 2 and 3 include all of the major dimensions of my bierwagen and locations of the boards. As you can see, it is 97.5 inches (2.48 m) long and 36.5 inches (0.93 m) wide counting the wheels. If needed, you can adjust the dimensions of your own beirwagen to fit your own needs. You can see the profile of the keezer (in purple) in Illustrations 2 and 3 shows that the center of it is sufficiently in front of the axle line to prevent tipping. I added an extra 1⁄4-inch (0.6-cm) clearance to the outer edges of the casters so they would not rub on the frame rails when moving. I also had to add about 4 inches (10 cm) of clearance for the bike wheels. The bierwagen is probably overbuilt and it is pretty heavy to lift, but it serves it’s purpose that one day of the year where it counts!
When changing kegs over during the party it is important to stand between the keezer and the legs. This will also prevent tipping.
The Step 2 picture shows the cart prior to installing the support legs for additional reference.

Illustration 2

Illustration 3

Step 3: Bicycle Wheel Attachment
You’ll need four short sections of L bracket to attach both wheels to the frame. I cut approximately 6-inch (15-cm) sections. You’ll then pick one of the already round holes and open it up using the step bit. I measured the diameter of the opening on the forks of both of our bikes and matched the hole size on the bracket. The wheel actually rides on a very narrow section of the axle that sticks out of the wheel hub on both sides, then a cam clamp snugs it up tight.After you have opened up the hole, you’ll need to make the hole a slot that the wheel can drop into. You are basically going to mimic what is on the bicycle fork as shown in the Step 3A picture.
You’ll also want some lag bolts to attach the new mounting brackets to the frame. I used some 3⁄16-inch lag bolts with a washer. This is where you’ll need some careful measurement and alignment. Since the L bracket is much thinner than the bike fork attachment point, you’ll need some washers to add thickness. The only washers I could find that were thick enough were some lock washers or split washers. They will stack up like shown in the Step 3B picture (below)
The Step 3C picture (below) offers a view of the cart (still without the support legs attached) flipped upside down so you can get a look at the wheel attachments.

Step 4: Getting the Keezer onto the Bierwagen
The first time you build your bierwagen you should wait on installing the support legs, but if it is already built you will need to remove the support legs at the front of the Bierwagen in order to load your keezer. Then with it right side up, you’ll brace it against a wall. You’ll need to remove the lateral board to get the keezer all the way up, as shown in the picture Step4A (below).

Next, you need to line up your keezer dolly at the tip of the cart. You can see in the Step 4B picture (below) that my keezer dolly just clears the leading edge of the cart. If yours isn’t tall enough, you can either cut the bottom side of the handles (front of cart) or lift up a bit to get it up on the rails. Keep pushing the cart up the “ramp.”

Once the keezer is all the way up, reinstall the lateral board. Now just wheel the bierwagen over and prop the front up on something so that you can reinstall the legs. I used some jack stands as shown in Step 4C (below) and they worked great.

Step 5: Storage
After the party is over, I am left with this gigantic bierwagen sitting in the garage. Where am I going to put this? At first I was thinking I would completely disassemble the bierwagen into its independent pieces, but then I’d have to reassemble it again next year. The thing is huge, so I’ve got to put it somewhere and I am not parking outside and scraping ice all winter. I thought about a few different options, but settled on storing it under my deck.
Get your keezer off the bierwagen and reclaim your bicycle tires. Then remove the legs and screw them back on the underside of the cart like shown in the Step 5 picture (at right). Nice and flat and ready to go under my deck, or leaning up against a wall where it won’t take up much space.

For more details and printable plans for my bierwagen, go to:

Issue: July-August 2015