Keeping draught lines clean are a critical for maintaining the highest quality of draft beer for breweries and bars.
Making high quality draft beer is no easy task for brewers to undertake. The preparation, resources, and time needed to create excellent beer is no small endeavor. Expert crafting of any draft beer can be totally ruined by just having unclean draught lines. By simply having the beer run from the keg, through the lines, and into the glass can spell disaster for the quality and taste of the beer. The best way to maintain the quality, taste, and balance of that special craft beer is thoroughly cleaning and maintaining your draught lines.
There are different factors that cause fouled draught lines:
- Mold: This nasty growth can be found numerous places like drains and faucets. Usually mold is brown or black and can wreak havoc on a draught line.
- Bacteria: These micro-organisms are no friend of draft beer or equipment. Bacteria has a serious impact on the taste quality and aroma of draft beer and needs to be eliminated or prevented.
- Yeast: This is another type of growth that thrives in open air environments. Yeast needs to be kept from all of the draft beer equipment.
- Beer stone: This is another factor that can negatively effect draft beer flavor. Beer stone is calcium oxidate that builds up and has a brown or grey color.
All of these result from poor cleaning and maintaining of your draft beer equipment and need to be prevented to preserve the quality of your beer for your loyal customers.
Keeping your Lines Clean
The BA has standards for cleaning and keeping clean your draught lines:
- Your draught lines need to be cleaned at a minimum of every two weeks.
- For 15 minutes your draught lines need to be flushed out with a cleaning chemical. If you can not have a continuous recirculation of cleaning chemical then you can soak the lines for a minimum of 20 minutes.
- Once a year, vinyl jumpers and direct draw lines need to be replaced.
- Every two weeks faucets need to be disassembled and cleaned.
- Replace any broken or damaged faucets.
- Once a quarter, use an acid based cleaner to flush out deposits of potential “beer stones”.
- Faucets, shanks, and couplers can last a very long time if maintained especially if they are made of stainless steel.
- Make sure couplers are in good working order. Check the O-rings to see if they have worn away and replace when needed.
What Types of Chemicals are Needed to Preserve Taste?
There are a variety of chemicals on the market today, including caustic soda (NaOH), potassium hydroxide (KOH), phosphates and silicates. Over the years the brewing industry universally has accepted and uses liquid caustic soda, combined with an additive package, as the standard for cleaning lines, kegs, bottles and tanks.
What are the Additives and Why Are They Used?
Additives are included to account primarily for water hardness (calcium carbonate) and prevent scale formation. The general classification of these additives are known as chelators, scale inhibitors, and dispersants. Another area of concern to insure and preserve flavor is the rinsing of the cleaner. This requires additives called surfactants. Surfactants are known as “surface active agents” or “wetters” that reduce surface tension. Their most important function is, however, to ensure total rinse-ability. The end result is the preservation of the true taste the brewery intended.
Our Method for Optimum Efficiency
- 1. Clean Weekly
- 2. Circulate the cleaning solution. Circulation has been proven to be approximately 80 times more effective than static cleaning.
- 3. Use warm water whenever possible.
- 4. Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
- 5. Rinse after every initial cleaning cycle. PH paper may also be used to ensure that the lines are completely free of solution.
- 6. Use an acid rinse after every fifth cleaning to ensure that all in-organics have been removed
- 7. Follow the recommended concentration ratio of 3% NaOH. If the directions are followed properly, the concentration may be reduced gradually down to 1% without sacrificing quality.
- 8. Review and become familiar with the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
The best beer available is draught beer. The taste of fresh beer is the “best” breweries offer. Simply put – If the beer tastes better, sales increase. Establishments make much more profit on draft sales and customers will enjoy a “premium taste”.