DRAFT BEER FAQS: PRESSURE
WHAT PRESSURE DO I NEED TO SET THE BEER REGULATOR AT?
When dispensing keg draft beer, the goal is to maintain the beers’ carbonation (CO2) level measured in volumes (v/v) prescribed by the brewer. Any change at the keg and/or throughout the system will impact the taste, pouring characteristics of the beer, and final presentation.
If CO2 is applied source to the keg, the recommended pressure will be between 12-14 lbs. to maintain typical ale and lager type beers’ carbonation. The more carbonation, the higher the pressure. Conversely, less carbonated beers require lower pressure. If the pressure is too low, the CO2 (carbonation) dissolved in the beer will “break out,” resulting in foam, thus dispensing issues. Continually dispensing foam will reduce the carbonation of the beer in the keg – flat beer.
Over time, the excess CO2 will be absorbed in the top layer of beer in the keg with too high pressure. Initially, this will not cause any problems, but this super CO2 saturated layer of beer will eventually be at the bottom where the beer leaves. First, since beer is over-gassed, it will change the flavor characteristic. Ultimately the excess saturation will result in nothing but beer cream being dispensed. Normally the last quarter of beer cannot be dispensed and is wasted.
As well, temperature directly impacts the regulator setting. Colder, less pressure. Higher pressure with warmer beer. If you are unsure what the correct CO2 pressure should be, refer to the flashlight test. Ideal test on a fresh, acclimated keg draft beer.
CO2 pressure source against beer in kegs may not be the best solution with uncontrollable temperature fluctuations or dispensing at a remote location. Most certainly, CO2 has limitations as to temperature issues and, with the lower pressure settings associated with it, is incapable of dispensing beer distances.
A gas blend of some CO2 to maintain carbonation with a non-reactive gas such as nitrogen for additional push is perfect when just CO2 falters. A correct ratio of these gasses via a gas blender allows for higher applied pressure to the beer keg, compensating for slight temperature fluctuations and dispensing remotely. Often, based on system design, a ratio of 70% CO2 / 30% nitrogen is ideal when pressures to keg are between 20-25 lbs. and beer is 38° F. Contact Micro Matic if unsure of correct application and ratios for gas blends.
THE GLOBAL LEADER IN DRAFT EQUIPMENT SOLUTIONS
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.