Draft Beer Systems Guide:
Know the 10 Key ElementS
Quality draft beer is the #1 factor for customers when deciding where to enjoy the freshest, most flavorful beer available. When a draft beer system contains all of the necessary components, the "Best of the Brewer's Art" can be poured. Customers seek it, and when they find it, they enjoy a great experience that will keep them returning for more!
OPTIMIZE QUALITY AND PROFIT
10 Key Elements of a Draft Beer System
When designing your next draft system, follow these ten simple elements to ensure draft quality and maximize profitability. With these elements in place, you will maintain temperature, carbonation, pressure, and hygiene.
1. Keg Storage Temperature
A walk-in cooler should ideally be dedicated to kegs only, at a temperature of 38˚ F. Allowing the temperature to get too cold may impact flavor and make it challenging to generate a "head of foam." A shared walk-in cooler for food and beer kegs typically requires more traffic, causing an increase in temperature. If the beer becomes too warm, foamy beer results in profits dispensed down the drain.
How Does Temperature Affect Retail Profitability?
Increased temperature causes the CO2 in beer to expand, resulting in too much foam. Pouring off two seconds of foam results in a 25% service loss on a 16-ounce glass, equaling thousands of dollars of lost profit annually.
Keg Storage Do’s
- Dedicate walk-in coolers for kegs only
- Use a liquid thermometer to verify 38˚ F storage liquid temperature
- Use walk-in cooler curtains
Keg Storage Don’ts
- Use the walk-in cooler for food storage
- Leave the walk-in cooler door open
- Tap a keg unless stored in the walk-in for 24 hours
Learn more about draft beer temperature here.
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2. gas blender
A gas blender protects product carbonation in the beverage dispensing system. It ensures quality and maximizes keg yield, making it ideal for slower-moving beers. Additionally, on-site blending of CO2 and nitrogen (N) is less expensive than pre-mixed gas cylinders. Pre-mixed gas provides incorrect blend ratios for most beer systems, yielding little to no foam head in the glass. This can result in a loss of up to $720 per week at a volume of ten kegs per week.
Gas Blender Do’s
- Use for long beer draw dispense systems
- Use 70% CO2 / 30% N for lager and ale
- Use 25% CO2 / 75% N for stout
- Turn red valves vertically for the ‘on’ position
Gas Blender Don’ts
- Use pre-mixed gas cylinders blended to stout specification on ale and lager
- Use air compressors
- Use 100% CO2 for long beer draw systems
3. Secondary Regulator Panel
Secondary Regulator Panels are used to manage keg pressure. Different systems and beer varieties may require different pressure settings; the secondary regulator is calibrated to each unique product, resulting in ideal carbonation levels and perfect pours.
Secondary Regulatory Panel Do’s
- Set each regulator to correct pressure based on beer style carbonation level
- Periodically test for an accurate gauge reading
Secondary Regulatory Panel Don’ts
- One regulator for beers that require a different carbonation level
4. Stainless Steel Contact
Stainless steel contact improves service life and promotes hygiene to maintain product integrity regardless of the beverage. Known as the "Brewer's Choice," 304-grade stainless steel offers excellent corrosion resistance, reduces bacteria build-up, and makes the system easier to clean.
How Does Stainless Steel Contact Affect Retail Profitability?
Stainless steel contact ensures the brewer's taste profiles are intact. When the product tastes great, this will ultimately result in repeat sales. If five customers order one more beer daily, this can equal an extra $10k in revenue annually.
Stainless Steel Do’s
- Use for all metal contact with beer in dispense system
Stainless steel Don’ts
- Use brass components that come in contact with the beer
5. Profit Maximizer (Pro-Max)
As its name implies, a Pro-Max™ (or FOB) provides increased earnings by eliminating the waste associated with refilling an empty draft line. When a full keg replaces an empty one, and the Pro-Max™ is reset, beer can be dispensed immediately with no foam waste, reducing pour costs and increasing keg yield. A Pro-Max™ on every keg can save thousands of ounces of beer annually.
- Install one per keg
- Reset every time a keg empties
- Plumb bleed-off to a central drain
- Install where it's difficult to access or can be damaged from keg handling
6. Power Pack
A power pack (glycol chiller) maintains product temperature from keg to glass. The power pack is at the heart of a remote draft system. It circulates a non-toxic food-grade antifreeze (propylene glycol) mixture alongside the beer lines, holding the ideal product temperature at the point of dispense. Having consistently chilled beer from the walk-in cooler to the faucet will ensure a perfect pint with the right amount of foam and a positive guest experience.
Designer Tip: Avoid locating the power pack on top of the walk-in cooler. Consider specifying a well-ventilated, easily-serviced location for the unit.
Power Pack Do’s
- Place in a well-ventilated, easy-to-service area
- Use USP food-grade propylene glycol
- Maintain glycol temperature between 29° F and 32° F
- Periodically check the glycol mix
Power Pack Don’ts
- Place on top of walk-in cooler
- Use non-food grade antifreeze
In long draw remote draft beer systems, the trunkline provides a water-proof jacket that houses beverage and glycol lines. The trunkline comprises of insulated layers engineered to eliminate condensation and keep the product cold from the keg to the glass. The Black Diamond® outer jacket is 15% more thermally efficient than standard tape and reduces labor costs with diminishing friction of the trunkline during installation. A 3/4-inch closed-cell insulation wrap prevents thermal loss or gain. An internal moisture barrier wrap prevents condensation from developing, and a foil cover keeps the bundle of product lines cool while reflecting away heat. The technologically superior Barriermaster Flavourlock™ beverage tubing keeps beer fresh and inhibits flavor migration when changing between products.
Designer Tips: Size is important! When designing a draft system, use the correct beer line sized for the distance between the keg cooler and dispensing location. This can prevent thousands of liquid ounces (and profits) from being purged during system cleaning each year. If a beverage chase or conduit is installed for the trunkline, specify an eight-inch diameter pipe with minimal 32" radius sweeps.
- Only use trunkline with Barriermaster Flavourlock tubing
- Maintain a 14-day cleaning cycle utilizing a recirculating pump
- Allow tubing to be exposed to ambient temperatures
- Allow the trunkline to come in contact with any excessive heat surfaces or areas
8. Kool-Rite Tower with Stainless Steel Faucets
Kool-Rite™ patented cold blocks deliver optimum tower cooling. Their modular design avoids internal connections and the risk of leaks. Each tower has 304-grade stainless steel beer lines, shanks, and faucets to maintain product integrity until it reaches the glass. Choosing a high-quality draft tower reduces service calls and ensures flawless pours, resulting in a great on-premise draft experience for customers.
- Install in a prominent place for visibility and ease of service for bartenders
- Clean and wipe down with mild soap and a soft cloth every shift change
- Install near any heat source
Learn more about Kool-Rite™ technology here.
9. Glassware Conditioning
Properly cleaned glassware preserves aroma and taste and maintains a perfect foam head and sparkling clear beer free of gas bubbles. The final presentation of correctly cleaned and sanitized glassware provides a positive customer experience and repeat sales. Remember always to use a glass rinser to condition the glass before pouring. Conditioning makes it easier to achieve a balanced pour. Finally, properly trained bar staff using correct pouring techniques and system operation delivers higher profits.
Glassware Cleaning Do’s
- Use detergents/disinfectants designed for beer glasses
- Use three sink cleaning system
- Air dry glasses on a drying rack
- After the glass dries, condition it with cold water
- Start pouring with a wet glass
Glassware pouring Do's
- Place glass at a 45° angle
- Open the faucet quickly and without contacting the glass
- When the glass is 3/4 full, straighten the glass and pour it directly into the middle
- Close the faucet quickly and completely
Glassware Cleaning Don'ts
- Use dishwashing detergent or bleach
- Stack to dry
- Condition with warm water
- Store glasses in a glass froster or freezer
Glassware Pouring Don'ts
- Let the faucet come in contact with the beer or glass
- Start pouring in the middle of the glass
10. System Cleaning and Maintenance
Beer is a food product, and regular cleaning and servicing are required every two weeks to maintain draft beer quality. Utilizing a recirculating electric pump is essential to maintain draft beer quality.
Cleaning and Maintenance Do’s
- Perform routine system cleaning
- Use a recirculating pump when line cleaning
- Perform routine system service maintenance
Cleaning and Maintenance Don’ts
- Allow the system to go uncleaned longer than two weeks
- Guess what requires cleaning and maintenance (call a specialist instead)
Want to learn more about system cleaning and maintenance? Watch the webinar here.
Use These 10 Key Elements to Ensure Perfect Pours
Quality bar and restaurant draft beer is the #1 factor for customers when choosing where to experience the freshest, most flavorful beer. Also, by offering a variety of beers on tap, you open doors to new sales opportunities. Increase your draft beer sales and maintain customer loyalty by dispensing consistent quality drafts. Because let’s face it, if your customer has a negative draft beer experience, they probably won’t be back.
Raise a Glass to Draft Beer Sales!
For over 60 years, Micro Matic has been recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of draft beer equipment. We specialize in keg-to-glass technology and offer a total solution for meeting your draft beer equipment needs. Our dedication to customer service is supported by four regional sales and distribution centers, the Micro Matic Dispense Institute for training and education, and a Certified Installer Network for draft beer installations. Want to speak with a “perfect pour” expert? Contact Micro Matic today.