Posted on 21 July, 2017 in Maintenance, Hospitality

The Perfect Pour: Proper Care and Feeding of Your Beer Tap System

The Perfect Pour: Proper Care and Feeding of Your Beer Tap System

Even the most carefully brewed craft beer can taste awful if it comes out of a dirty or poorly maintained beer tap system. It takes a lot of work to brew a high-quality beer product, so regular cleaning and maintenance of your beer tap system is important to preserve the taste and quality of the beer. It also help to keep your taps running optimally. A down tap system means lost revenue, so here are some tips to keep the cold brew flowing. 

Factors for the Best Beer Tap System

Err on the Cold Side

While experts say there are different temperatures for serving different kinds of beer, in a climate like Darwin, it’s best to err on the colder side. There’s nothing worse after hankering for a cold one all day than being served something that’s closer to room temperature. It not only ruins the taste, it ruins the whole beer drinking experience. 

Store your barrels at around 0 to 4°C. Insulate your lines and chill them enough to maintain that temperature right down to the pour.

Avoid Too Much Pressure

The wrong pressure can mean the difference between a foamy mess or flat beer and a deliciously frothy cold one. Too much pressure and your beer will pour too fast with too much head, which often means more waste, as well as destroying the flavour. 

Too little pressure, and your beer will pour too slowly and be flat, requiring extra skill from your bartenders to get the right amount of head, which will dissipate far too quickly anyway. Here's some more tips on pressure: 

  • Gas Mixture: The optimal gas mixture for your beer tap system is around 40 per cent CO2 to 60 per cent N2, which will prevent carbonation. 
  • Gas Pressure: The ideal gas pressure is 280kpa to 300 kpa, although this can vary depending on the temperature and length of your lines. 
  • Small Adjustments: Adjust carefully, depending on how your beer is pouring.
  • Know the Rules: Make sure you stay safe and aware of Australian regulations and standards.  

Clean Those Lines

Beer is an organic material, so it leaves a residue when it passes through the lines. A build of calcium oxalate or beer stone can easily develop in the lines and around other system components. Beer stone can harbour and grow bacteria and mould. To avoid it, you should flush out your tap lines at least once a week to clean them properly and to ensure there is no mould, bacteria or wild yeast in the system.

Cleaning Your System

All systems should be cleaned every one to two weeks, but for systems that deal with high volumes of beer, it might even be worth cleaning out the lines more frequently, or even at the end of every night. To clean your lines, you’ll need to recirculate your system with a cleaning solution for several minutes. Here's more: 

  • Run: Send the cleaning solution through the lines until the flow looks clear.
  • Soak: Wait for the solution to soak into the lines for a good amount of time, or at least 15 minutes.
  • Flush: Run clean water through the lines until the flow runs clear to flush out the cleaning solution.
  • Tap: You can then tap the next keg and let it run until beer comes through the taps.

Replace Parts Regularly

As a general rule, you should replace your draw lines every year as part of general preventative maintenance. There are no specific guidelines for when to replace other components, such as washers, faucets and other parts, so you need to perform regular inspections and be ready to replace these parts as required.

It’s important to keep your beer tap system clean and maintained to pour a consistent quality product. Fortunately, it’s a relatively simple process to do this yourself. With regular cleaning, yearly replacements and scheduled inspections, you can keep your system running optimally. 

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