Being a bar owner, a bar manager, or even a bartender is very challenging. At any given point you will face several problems which need to be resolved or else you might lose business. It’s important to know when to call an expert and when you can figure out the problem yourself. Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure you have clean beer and a highly function draft system.
Understand How Draft Beer Works
This may seem obvious, however, it is surprising how many bartenders are not completely aware of how a draft beer system works. This can limit their ability to keep quality up and customers happy. For instance, carbon dioxide (which is vital to good beer) is often misunderstood. Here are a few important things to remember:
- Beer can dissolve carbon dioxide relative to its coldness. The colder, the more dissolution.
- The more pressure in the dispenser, the more carbon dioxide will be dissolved
- Smoother surfaces allow more carbon dioxide to stay in the beer (clean your glasses and lines)
- Agitation causes a release of carbon dioxide (let the keg settle before tapping it)
While these may seem like basic ideas, make sure you understand the basic chemistry which has caused draft beer to be so wildly popular. It can help your immensely.
Common Draft Problems
Maintaining the right temperature, carbon dioxide levels, and the correct pressure to overcome resistance in taps and beer lines can get complicated. Here are a few problems which may arise during the course of a busy night and some suggestions to help rectify the situation.
No beer is flowing: Run through the following checklist
- Is the keg empty? (start with the obvious)
- Is the coupler attached properly?
- Is the carbon dioxide tank attached and full?
- Are the carbon dioxide valves open?
- Is the line frozen or blocked? (Call a professional)
Beer is flat (not enough foam): Check the regulator gauge first; however this often indicates a glass that is not clean. Oils and grease will quickly destroy foam.
Beer is over-carbonated (too much foam): The keg may be empty, or may not have settled yet. The temperature may not be low enough or the value might not be opened properly.
Call The Beer Line Cleaners
If any of the following occur, it’s time to get a professional cleaning done:
Beer flows erratically: It’s possible the line has a kink in it, but most likely the beer lines need to be cleaned. There is a bad seal, a deposit, a pinhole, or something else hampering the line. Call in the cleaning crew.
Beer is darker than normal or has little black flakes: It’s definitely time to clean the beer lines. These little flakes or even chunks aren’t harmful, but they are certainly revolting.
General Beer Line Cleaning Guidelines
While there are emergencies which must be dealt with, most situations can be avoided by following general guidelines to follow to ensure your tap beer is always the highest quality.
Regular Cleaning: Commercial beer lines, such as are found in bars and restaurants, require frequent cleanings. It’s recommended that commercial lines are cleaned every two weeks. If this is not maintained, it will not be long before your patrons start noticing the quality of your draft beer decreasing due to protein deposits, bacteria, and mold build up.
Replacement: Unfortunately, beer lines eventually need to be replaced. No matter how much you service or clean them, they eventually wear out and must be swapped out. Consult a beer line cleaning professional about this.
At Clean Beer, we understand the challenges of operating and bar and of being a bartender. In the commotion it can be easy to forget to lose track of the cleanliness of your beer lines. We offer the full spectrum of servicing beer lines, including installation, cleaning, and maintenance. At Clean Beer, in Milford, MA, we sell new and used beer line equipment, home kegerators, ornate and imported dispense towers, and much more. Clean Beer is the home of the clean beer line experts, contact us about your home or commercial tap needs.