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    Common Draught Beer Dispenser Issues that Require Troubleshooting 

    Every day, we strive to provide the "Best of the Brewers Art," from the first glass to the last! When this is accomplished, the customer is treated to the freshest, most delicious beer imaginable. That is why maintaining and servicing your draught system regularly is so important. Even with the best maintained beer systems, problems may develop, like, wild or foamy beer, flat or other off-taste beer, beer with a cloudy/hazy appearance, or the foam head in the glass dissipating too quickly.

    Most problems typically result from one, or a combination of system issues. Improper temperature, incorrect system pressure, poor faucet operation, and a lack of regularly scheduled system maintenance can adversely affect the quality and presentation of draught beer. That is why understanding the fundamentals of common draught beer dispensing issues and knowing how to solve them is vital.


    A frequently seen issue is attempting to dispense beer from a warmer keg than ideal, or temperature fluctuations from keg to glass. Most draught beer should be served around 36-38° F. With the beer's carbonation, its CO2 (carbon dioxide) gas is quite sensitive to temperature changes causing it to foam. For optimal system performance, beer temperature must be consistent throughout the system.

    • Even slightly warm beer will foam when poured into a glass. A recently delivered keg is a common cause of a temperature problem. Allowing the keg to rest in refrigeration for a full day before dispensing is essential.
    • Anywhere there is a warm temperature between the keg and faucet, carbonation will escape the beer forming foam in the lines. The air space inside a kegerator's dispensing tower is notorious for this. Ensure the system design does not allow the beer's temperature to change anywhere.
    • Along with the issues noted earlier, continually dispensing foam decreases the beer's carbonation, and flat beer will result. Avoid the mistake of changing the prescribed pressure to compensate for foam issues. Patiently wait for the beer to arrive at the correct temperature or fix system temperature inconsistencies.
    • If the beer is too cold, acquiring the foam head on the glass becomes challenging. This results in the product having a flat appearance. Beer that has been frozen and then thawed takes on a hazy/cloudy appearance. Assure beer temperature is within the appropriate temperature range.


    Determine the pressure source for applying to the keg. CO2 is usual for the short kegerator type systems where a gas blend of CO2 and nitrogen allows dispensing over longer distances. The correct amount of these pressure sources is required to prevent undesirable flavor changes and excess foaming.

    • The CO2 pressure applied to the keg should be between 12-15 lbs. Typical ales and lagers served at 36-38° F are most stable at these pressures. Use less pressure for lower carbonated beers and closer to 15 lbs. for higher levels. Some highly carbonated products, such as refermenting beers, may require even higher-pressure levels.
    • If the system pressure is too low, the beer's carbonation releases while pouring, causing foam.
    • The beer's top layer slowly absorbs the CO2 pressure source if it is too high. When this layer arrives at the bottom of the keg, foam (wild beer) appears. Often this condition is referred to as over-carbonation.
    • For proper carbonation levels, contact the brewer. Determine the beer temperature and reference a carbonation chart. Dial in the correct CO2 pressure amount to solve these issues.
    • Due to atmospheric pressure changes at higher elevations, adjust the pressure from the carbonation chart (based on 1-1000’ elevations) one pound for every 2000’ above sea level. If the pressure required for sea level were 14 lbs., it would be 16 lbs for a system located at 4800’.  
    • For an ale or lager, the typical gas blend ratio should be 70% CO2 / 30% nitrogen, and the pressure between 20-25 lbs. The beer eventually appears flat in the glass if it is too low. Over-carbonation (wild beer) occurs if the pressure is too high. Adjust the pressure to stay within this range.

    System Maintenance

    Scheduled cleaning of draught beer system components such as the faucet, beer hose, and keg coupler is essential. "Brewery Clean" glassware is critical; otherwise, cloudy beer, off-flavors, and wild/foamy conditions will occur.

    • The faucet, beer line, and keg coupler should be cleaned with an appropriate chemical solution every two weeks, and with every keg, change if home dispensing. Seals and O-rings should be inspected and replaced if necessary. Additionally, mandatory processes must be employed to remove the biofilm plaque, which accumulates inside system lines and hardware. If these beer spoilers are allowed to accumulate due to a lack of cleaning, hazy beer, and sour or fruity flavors will result. Eventually, foamy pours will appear. 
    • Reference the Brewers Association guidelines. A few minutes spent cleaning on a scheduled two-week basis will significantly add to your draught beer enjoyment! 
    • Improper glassware cleaning will cause off-taste complaints and an undesired appearance. The foam head will dissipate rapidly, leaving a flat beer perception, while bubbles will either adhere to the side walls of the filled glass or rise from the bottom. A soapy or chemical off-taste complaint is common.
    • Utilize glassware cleaning products designed for beer glasses. Allow glassware to air dry before dispensing. At home, dishwashers are preferable to handwashing with dish soap.

    Faucet Operation

    • It is frustrating when a well-cleaned system is operating at the right temperature with ideal pressure, and foam/wild beer occurs due to incorrectly opening the faucet. Most faucets have two positions, open or closed. When opened slowly or in a halfway position, foam occurs. Once clear beer is poured over that initial foam, more wild beer appears in the glass.
    • Swiftly open the faucet while observing the beer flow. If foam appears, stop, and drain from the glass. Start over with clear beer acquiring an appealing foam head.

    Other common issues include:

    • Products with expired shelf life or stored at room temperature for an extended period.
    • Pinched or kinked tubing.

    After correcting one or more problems, a fresh, clean beer can be dispensed into a glass and enjoyed.


    Almost all dispensing problems are the result of the following:

    • Improper temperature
    • Improper pressure
    • Cleaning issues


    • Is the keg stored between 36-38° F, and is the same temperature maintained to the point of dispense?
    • Is the CO2 pressure between 12-14 lbs? Is it adjusted for dispensing above sea level?
    • Have the faucet, beer line, and keg coupler been cleaned (with chemicals specifically manufactured for beer hose cleaning) regularly?

    WILD BEER: Beer, when drawn, is all foam or too much foam and not enough liquid beer.

    Typically caused by the following:

    • The beer temperature is too warm
    • CO2 pressure is set too high
    • Faucet in bad, dirty, or worn condition
    • Kinks, twists, or other obstructions in the beer hose
    • Beer drawn improperly

    FLAT BEER: The foamy head disappears quickly; the beer lacks brewery-fresh flavor.

    Typically caused by the following:

    • The beer temperature is too cold
    • CO2 pressure is set too low
    • Dirty glassware

    CLOUDY BEER: The beer in the glass appears hazy, and not clear.

    Typically caused by the following:

    • Frozen or nearly frozen beer
    • Beer that has been un-refrigerated for long periods
    • Old beer
    • Dirty faucet, beer hose, and/or keg coupler
    • Dirty glassware

    FALSE HEAD: Large soap-like bubbles; the head dissolves very quickly.

    Typically caused by the following:

    • Dry glasses
    • Improper pour


    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.