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    Beer Line Cleaning ROI

    One of the biggest returns for bar operators today is the money invested in line cleaning. Line cleaning is critical to serving a great glass of draft beer, and the cost associated with cleaning should be viewed as an investment with a high return.

    All draft beer systems, whether the beer line run is short, as a direct draw box, or long as found in an air shaft or glycol system, must be cleaned every two weeks. This is mandated in the recently published; Brewers Association Draught Beer Quality Manual. This manual results from brewers (large and small), draft beer equipment suppliers, and technical experts coming to a consensus on line cleaning standards.

    The standards define the procedures, timing, equipment, and chemicals used to ensure that draft beer is served as the Brewer intended. A conservative estimate on revenue gained from the investment is twice the cost. The cost and benefits associated with line cleaning will be addressed in this article. The exact cost to clean every line can be precisely calculated and can be broken down into two components:

    1. The cost of beer lost during cleaning.
    2. The cost for the service in terms of time, labor, and materials.

    An average total cost (long draws and short) to clean one draft beer line is between $6 and 12 dollars. Several reasons exist for not cleaning draft beer lines as mandated by Brewers Association. Reasons vary depending on the state where a business is located. In some states a bar operator has to pay for a line cleaning service incurring the cost and viewing beer purged from lines as a waste. The beer wholesaler provides line cleaning at no charge as an added value for product placement in other states. Still, the bar operator views purged beer as waste and with multiple lines cleaners from various wholesalers visiting, an inconvenience, and downtime. Lastly, no matter what state you're in, bar operators often do not understand why they should invest in this process. Normally due to a lack of knowledge.

    The following scenario will explain:

    A bar operator concerned about the cost of line cleaning elects to have draft beer lines cleaned monthly. This doubles the recommended time between cleanings. Beer spoilers: bacteria, yeast, and molds flourish in the beer lines and begin to impart an off-taste into all of the beers on tap.  

    The off-flavor will be noticeable in the light lagers and wheat beers with subtle flavor profiles; more robust ales and stouts will mask off-taste. However, within a short amount of time, the flavor will be detected in all the beers on tap. Bar patrons drinking the lighter beers will taste the off-flavors produced by the beer spoilers and take one of four costly options:

    1.  Not order another draft (stop drinking).
    2.  Complaint to receive a refund or exchange for a different beer.
    3.  Switch to bottle or can beer.
    4.  Elect to drink elsewhere.

    Assuming a pint of beer sells for $6.00, losing the revenue from just two-pint sales costs the operator more than proper line cleaning would have cost. Draft beer sales and revenue will continue to decrease with each day that passes without an effective line cleaning process. The realized cost of lost sales and customer goodwill is much greater to the operator than the cost to clean the line following the Brewers Association line cleaning standards.

    The real cost of line cleaning – Is NOT line cleaning.

    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. Specializing in keg-to-glass technology, we 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.