You invested in a kegerator because you wanted to have fresh draft beer on tap in the comfort of your own home. Now that youve made such a wise decision, learning to protect your investment is essential. Your kegerator is like a car, it requires periodic tune-ups to ensure optimum performance. The best time for a tune-up is just before you tap a new keg. By learning the secrets of cleaning, pressure and temperature taking care of a kegerator is a snap.
Clean the Lines
Making sure a beer line is clean will always be a high priority for anyone who owns a kegerator. When a beer line is dirty it has a serious effect on the quality of the beer served. A dirty beer line can cause excessive foaming as well as the buildup of bacteria, yeast, mold, and beer stone within a beer line. These changes can severely affect the taste and overall quality of the beer you are serving. Using a Micro Matic beer line cleaner is a great way to ensure the beer you serve is of the highest quality.
Micro Matic has developed beer line cleaning kits to serve any kegerator owner. These beer cleaning kits will have you back to enjoying beer within minutes. Choose whats best for you:
Manual Beer Line Cleaning Pump
A hand operated pump is used to pump cleaning solution through the beer lines. This simple type is used for direct draw (home kegerator) applications.
CO2 Pressurized Beer Line Cleaning Pump
Does pumping sound like work? Its easier to use CO2. A cleaning bottle operating on CO2 pressure works the same as tapping a keg. Fill the cleaning vessel with cleaning solution, connect the keg coupler and open the faucet to allow the solution to flow through.
Whether you choose a manual pump or a pressurized one, the steps to line cleaning are the same:
Disconnect the keg coupler from the keg.
Rinse the line first with clean water. This flushes the beer out and prevents the cleaning chemical from being diluted with beer.
Mix cleaning chemical per the manufacturers instruction. Pump the cleaning solution through the line. Allow to soak for a few minutes to loosen any deposits.
Rinse and refill the cleaning container with fresh water. Flush cleaning solution out of beer line.
Clean the Tapping Equipment
Once the line is clean its on to the tapping equipment. Mold, yeast and beer stone degrade your coupler and faucet. If you notice the handle action is sticky when pouring a beer, your faucet is in need of cleaning. Remove the faucet and keg coupler, disassemble and allow them to soak in the same cleaning solution used for the beer line. Its critical the faucet is thoroughly scrubbed out with a sturdy nylon or stainless steel brush. Examine the faucet closely and youll notice there are two vent holes: one is inside the throat and the other is directly under the shaft opening. Make sure both openings are obstruction free, it may take some prolonged soaking in the cleaning solution with hot water. Re-assemble the faucet and now check the lever action; it should be quick and smooth. Be careful not to over-tighten the bonnet nut. The collar nut, located just below the handle, will help you keep the handle facing forward.
The keg coupler is the key that opens the keg. If it is not clean you will contaminate the entire keg. Start by disassembling the coupler. On lever handle couplers this is easily done by unscrewing the handle hinge pin, removing the handle and sliding out the probe. Thoroughly soak the parts and then rinse in fresh water. For easy tapping action re-lube the probe with FDA approved food-grade lubricant. Youll notice smoother tapping action when you tap the next keg.
Check the CO2 Pressure
The recommended CO2 pressure for a home kegerator is 12-14 psi for most domestic beers. This pressure will maintain the level of carbonation the brewer specified. When dispensing draft beer, the goal is to keep the CO2 level prescribed by the brewer. Any change in the CO2 level can alter the taste characteristics and appearance of the beer.
When beer is dispensed with the pressure set too low, over time CO2 that is dissolved in the beer will break out. This will result in flat beer. If beer is dispensed with the pressure set too high, over time more CO2 will be absorbed into the beer, resulting in off-taste and foamy beer.
Check the Temperature
Its important to maintain the correct temperature for beer stored in your kegerator. Often times while troubleshooting, people will simply say its cold. Beer requires specific storage temperature, so an accurate reading is necessary. Its easy to determine this, simply fill a glass with water and allow it to come to temperature in the kegerator. Then insert a thermometer for a reading. Now adjust the thermostat in the kegerator accordingly.
Most domestic draft beer is not pasteurized, so it must be kept cold. Beer must be stored between 36-38F. Simply put, keg beer storage can be compared to milk storage: If it is not kept cold, it will spoil. To verify the temperature, insert a thermometer in a freshly poured glass of beer; it should be 38F. If not, adjust your thermostat.
With proper maintenance you will lengthen the lifespan of the tapping equipment in your kegerator.
Investing in a beer cleaning kit is a great way to ensure the beer you serve to friends and family is always brewery fresh.
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