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Is Your CO2 Regulator Gauge Accurate?

If your goal is to make a profit from the sale of draught beer – or if you simple want to enjoy the best of the brewers’ art – your dispensing system must be balanced. One aspect of a draft dispense system that ensures this balance is pressure (specifically, pressure against the keg).

Maintaining a constant and consistent pressure to the keg requires an accurate regulator gauge. If a gauge is damaged, provides a false reading, or has a wide range on the faceplate that makes small adjustments difficult, the keg pressure can be out of balance… and the result will be foam, wasted beer, and quality issues.

This holds true more so with simple kegerators or direct draw dispensing systems that utilize 100% CO2 between 10 and 18 PSIG (pounds per square inch gauge). This CO2-only dispense method requires very precise tuning of pressure. Inaccurate pressures will contribute to higher operating cost and impact the enjoyment of a normally refreshing beverage – draught beer. The exact pressure required is for a discussion at a later time. For now, the focus is on gauge accuracy to alleviate potential dispensing headaches.

Preferably, to acquire more precise adjustments, use a regulator that has a 0-30 PSI gauge range. Instrumentation such as a 0-30 PSI gauge is more accurate mid-range than those with a 0-60 range. Micro Matic now offers a 0-30 PSI gauge as a replacement for those that are unreadable due to damage or if you desire to replace that 0-60 gauge.

Another method of assuring gauge accuracy is to utilize a CO2 pressure tester on existing or broken gauges. It has a “zero adjust gauge” with a 0-30 range allowing for easy field calibration. This device is designed to check pressure settings either at the coupler (“D” or “S” system) or at the shut-off below the regulator by reversing the tester’s shut-offs.

To protect your gauges, consider a cage that mounts to the regulator and wraps around the gauges. This can prevent damage if the cylinder falls over or if the regulator is forced into a wall in a high traffic area. As a safety precaution, always remember to secure the cylinders with some type of tether to reduce the risk of them falling over.

It can be rewarding dispensing beer from kegs with systems of this variety… don’t let a faulty gauge or incorrect adjustments aggravate the complexity of fine-tuning, thus tarnishing the experience!

Whether your desire is to enjoy every last drop of beer in the keg, to acquire optimal profit, to encourage resale, or to ensure the system is tuned properly… it’s best to always utilize the right components and tools for the job. You’ll sleep well knowing that the gauge is accurate and the system is balanced.

Oh, and one final reminder – don’t forget to perform a “leak test” on your pressure system, and calibrate that thermometer!

Beer Chilled Draught Dispensing System

Do you have a "Beer Chilled Draught Dispensing System"? Hopefully not! Because if you do, it’s highly likely that you’re not using that drip tray under the faucets as it was intended. In fact, we don’t call them drains… This method of dispensing beer from a keg is referred to as "The Most Expensive Draught System on the Face of the Earth". Unfortunately, the beer is being used to overcome inadequate system designs. The result is higher operating costs, lower keg yield, and compromised quality because the beer’s carbonation is lowered.

Often, in any type of draft beer system, the temperature of the beer in a line fluctuates and increases as it moves past the keg towards the faucet. This can be due to beer lines that have been routed near heat sources and/or inefficient system cooling between the keg and faucet. Eventually, cold beer that exits the keg will flow through these problem areas, eliminating the foam-causing heat. Now that’s an expensive way of chilling beer!

At home in your kegerator – or within retail systems at bars, restaurants, venues, etc. – the beer temperature must be maintained all the way to the faucet, or you’ll end up with foam and wasted product.

Why the foam? One very important aspect of beer: it has gas. Fermentation, to be exact, where in the brewing process yeast is added to the unfermented beer (wort) and thus devours the sugars. This produces alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. Remember your high school science class way back when? What happens to a gas when it is heated? You’re right, it expands.

Draft Beer Temperature ProblemsThis is what happens to the CO2 in beer when it is subjected to an area in any draught system where the temperature is too warm: the gas expands and breaks out of the beer, resulting in an accumulation of foam. Behind the faucet is a very common area for this to occur. The collection of foam will spill out of the faucet, causing difficulties in dispensing. That foam that goes down the drip tray mostly consists of the gas that should have been in the beer. End result: flat beer!

If you begin with foam while pouring beer in a glass, and then attempt to follow with clear beer, you’ll breed more foam. You’ll know when bartenders are experiencing this difficulty when you see them continually tipping the glass as they dispense with foam rolling out and pouring into the “drip tray”.

The most successful dispensing system is one that can maintain temperature at the keg, and all the way to the faucet.

Kegerators should have some method of moving the cold air into its tower. Air cooled remote systems at retail outlets, notoriously labeled “Beer Chilled Systems”, are most efficient if the keg cooler door is kept closed and there is an efficient air flow to the faucets and then back to the cooler. Glycol remote systems are by far the most successful at maintaining temperature, although issues arise when the lines are routed above kitchen hoods and when the power pack is not maintained or located in an area where it cannot operate efficiently.

The CO2 in beer should always be ‘Top of Mind’ while designing, installing and dispensing beer from a keg. Control system temperature, and you’ll control the beer’s CO2. Controlling the CO2 will allow you to take full advantage of draft beer’s profit potential and fresh taste!

Micro Matic offers a wide variety of beer cooling solutions, including remote glycol systems and premium thermally-efficient trunk lines.

Where's The Keg? The Magic of Trunk Lines...

If you're the owner of a bar, pub, restaurant, or any other establishment that serves draft beer, then you've probably spent considerable time pondering the pros and cons of different beer dispense systems.

Whether you're installing a new system or upgrading an old one, I'm sure you've thought about installing a kegerator under the bar counter, where it's very near the faucet. This is appealing because it reduces the likelihood of temperature problems, foam, and wasted product. But do you really want to cart your beer kegs through a crowd of customers? Do you have enough space to fit a three, four, or five faucet kegerator at the bar?

You've also probably considered a remote dispense system, where the kegs are stored in a walk-in cooler and beer is pumped to the faucets through beer lines installed throughout the building. But the beer may have to travel hundreds of feet to reach the faucet… so how can you be sure the product maintains a consistent temperature over the entire length of the tubing? After all, even the slightest change in temperature can cause foaming and quality problems at the faucet.

beer trunk lineWhat you may not have considered, however, is Micro Matic Diamond trunk line.

In case you're unfamiliar with the term, trunk line is specially insulated beer tubing (sometimes referred to as a beer "snake" or "python") that weaves remotely through a building carrying beer from the keg cooler to the faucet. Unlike normal beer lines, trunk line can dispense beer long distances with no foam waste while maintaining product quality and temperature… just as if the beer was coming from a kegerator behind the bar.

Not all python is created equal, though. To truly maintain temperature consistency, you need a high-quality python. Micro Matic Black Diamond trunk line is second to none, which is why retailers are clamoring all over it. Savvy bar and restaurant owners are using Black Diamond trunk line to replace their old snake (which, in most cases, was either hand-made or made of inferior quality materials that did not properly maintain beer temperature). Black Diamond protects the investment these owners have made in their beer kegs.

The beer tubing in this particular python has an inner bonded liner that is designed to be an extension of the keg. This liner protects the brewers' art while transporting it to the customer's glass at the desired temperature. Think of the tubing as being glass-lined, as if you were picking up the keg and pouring the beer directly into the glass.

You want two products dispensed? No problem: the trunk line is available with up to 14 product tubes and either 1/4", 5/16" or 3/8" inside diameter.

There are other reasons bars and restaurants love the Micro Matic Black Diamond trunk line. To begin with, it is designed and manufactured to eliminate heat fostering condensation build-up with a tight vapor barrier wrap. The foil and insulation layers keep the cold inside, where it belongs, making it very effective at maintaining temperature. This reduces energy requirements for the refrigeration unit (power pack) and minimizes the amount of food grade glycol/water mixture that the power pack circulates along the beer tubing. Glycol wears out, and is expensive to replace. That means the Black Diamond trunk line can reduce operating costs… and lower overhead is always appealing!

Remote draught system installers and line cleaners are excited about Black Diamond trunk line, too. The Black Diamond dimple cover on the trunk line reduces friction as it protects the inner bundle. This allows an installer to push it through a building's conduit or chase system, where as most other products - particularly ones constructed with copper tubing - must be pulled though, which is undesirable as it can result in increased labor cost and potential damage to the trunk line.

The inner barrier lining of the product tubing inside the Black Diamond trunk line is so slick that it will not allow beer spoilers to imbed themselves, as they have with other trunk lines that utilize simple polyethylene line. Line cleaning chemicals are expensive, and line cleaners are busy… they don't have all day to try and circulate buckets of cleaner through an inferior trunk line (which should actually have been replaced at the first sign of off-taste beer… or better yet, never installed in the first place)!

So, whether you're considering a new install or pondering an upgrade, Micro Matic has a diamond of a trunk line for you! (Black Diamond, that is). It's a great way to enhance product quality, lower operating costs, and increase overall profits… on what is already a very profitable beverage!