Draft Beer System Maintenance

Introduction

Whether you own a direct draw, air-cooled, or glycol-cooled system, you need to maintain your draft beer system with some basic practices.

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to present the basic guidelines, and time tested practices to keep your beer dispensing equipment working properly and serving beer that tastes great.

Four Guidelines of Beer Dispensing

When maintaining any beer dispensing system, consider the following:

  1. Maintain a consistent beer temperature of 38˚ F.
  2. Set the applied pressure according to the beer’s carbonation level, temperature, and serving altitude.
  3. Build in the restriction to balance with the applied pressure, and to maintain a constant flow rate.
  4. Clean the system a minimum of every 14 days. To ensure a beer system is functioning properly, follow these guidelines. A quality product is the result of a well-maintained system.

Direct Draw Maintenance – Self-contained keg beer storage and dispensing system

  • Maintain a consistent beer temperature of 38˚ F.
  • Set the applied pressure according to the beer’s carbonation level, temperature, and serving altitude. At sea level this is usually 12-15 psi.
  • Build in the restriction to balance with the applied pressure, and to maintain a constant flow rate.
  • Clean the beer lines bi-weekly.

Procedure should include:

  • Using a brewery approved line-cleaning chemical according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Using a hand pump or pressurized cleaning container.
  • Disassembling and cleaning the keg coupler and faucet.
  • Rinsing the system thoroughly with water.

Air-Cooled System Maintenance (not recommended for runs over 25 feet)

  • Maintain a consistent beer temperature of 38˚ F. Keep the walk-in cooler door closed at all times. If the door needs to be open, use clear plastic curtains to prevent cold air from being lost when door is open.
  • Whether using straight CO2 or a gas blender (CO2 & N2) assure the system restriction is balanced properly to the applied pressure. Use 20-25 psi as a target applied pressure for blended gas.
  • Each beer line should have its own secondary regulator to set the applied pressure.
  • Check for proper air-flow circulation from the walk in cooler to the dispense towers and back. Impeller blower must be sized properly for good air circulation. It is not recommended to have more than two 90˚ bends.
  • Line cleaning performed on a regular 14-day interval.

Procedure should include:

  • A sodium hydroxide (caustic) based solution for ongoing regular cleaning.
  • An acid based cleaner is recommended every third or fourth cleaning. In-place and/or pressurized cleaning equipment can be used but a motorized cleaning pump is recommended for more effective cleaning.
  • Disassembling and cleaning the keg coupler and faucet.
  • Rinsing the system thoroughly with water.
  • Maintain a consistent beer temperature of 38˚ F. Keep the walk-in cooler door closed at all times. If the door needs to be open use clear plastic curtains to prevent cold air from being lost when door is open.
  • Use a gas blender (CO2 & N2), and assure the system restriction is balanced properly to the target applied pressure. Use 20-25 psi as a target applied pressure for blended gas.
  • Each beer line should have its own secondary regulator to set the applied pressure.
  • Use a quality trunk housing or python containing barrier beer lines.
  • Properly size the glycol power pack to the system length, and locate it in a well-ventilated area. Never place the glycol cooler inside the walk-in cooler.
  • Have the glycol power pack serviced and the glycol replaced every year.
  • Use glycol wrapped or Kool-Rite™ technology beer dispensing towers.
  • Clean the lines on a regular 14-day interval.

Procedure should include:

  • A sodium hydroxide (caustic) based solution for the regular cleaning.
  • An acid based cleaner is recommended every third or fourth cleaning. Using a motorized cleaning pump to recirculate the cleaning solution for at least 10 minutes for effective cleaning.
  • Disassembling and cleaning the keg coupler and faucet
  • Rinsing the system thoroughly with water.

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