One of the biggest ways of spoiling the taste of chilled beer is by having dirty beer lines – those that connect the keg or cask to the tap that pours it out. Beer lines can get clogged with bacteria, yeast, mould, hop particulate as well as beer stones. This is why it is imperative that you undertake regular clean-ups of your line to ensure that your customers are drinking beer of the best quality. Follow this short guide we’ve put together to get a better understanding of the best way to clean your beer line.
You will need approximately two to three hours a week to clean your beer lines. It is best to do it on a weekly basis to ensure that you maintain the same quality of the product for all the customers that walk in for a freshly chilled beer. Some places often make a calendar or schedule it right before brewing day so that it fits into the larger scheme of processes that need to be taken care of. So, if you are unable to find that much time every week, hire an external cleaner to do a thorough job of it. Apart from losing customers, a half-baked attempt at cleaning could alter the taste of the beer and also lead to wastage through fobbing.
Clean Couplers and Sockets
The first thing you must ensure is that of maintaining cleanliness inside the cellar. Keep a bucket of warm water with cleaning solution ready for the keg coupler. Once removed, make sure you clean the coupler as well as the socket that it goes into. Keep the gas turned off so that it does not seep into the cleaning system. While this might not happen usually, the sockets are made of plastic and they might not be the best seal. Also, make sure that the remote and under counter coolers are switched off so that there isn’t any frozen beer in the line when you undertake the cleaning process.
Water Through the Line
Fill the cleaning container with cold water (hot water freezes quicker than cold water which is why cold water is the preferred choice). Most cleaning systems now have gas pumps to power the water through the lines. Once you are prepared, place a large bucket under the tap outlets and remove the sparklers and diffusers. After this flush the lines with water until it is free of all traces of beer.
Cleaning Fluid through the Line
It is always better to invest in a good cleaning fluid because you will end up using a lot more of the cheap cleaning fluid if you think about saving on cost. Mix the correct amount based on the size of your container. Once the mix is ready, you can run it through your lines. A litmus paper can tell you when the solution has reached the tap if it is a clear solution. Once this is done, you can bleed the cleaning solution through the fob detectors as well as electrical pumps if you have any.
Repeat this process after 15 minutes by drawing a fresh lot of cleaning solution through the lines. In order to know whether the line needs to be cleaned again, pour some of the solution out and gauge its clarity. A milky hue, for example, means there is still yeast in the line. If the colour is the same as it is in a fresh solution, the line is cleared. If it is not, repeat the process another time but don’t keep the solution in the line for longer than instructed.
Rinse and Prepare the Lines
Once you are satisfied with the results, rinse the cleaning container a few times and fill it with clean water. Flush the system with clean water for all the debris and leftover residue to come out. Yeast, for example, is not entirely dissolved in the solution but is broken up. So the water will push the residue out and help yield a thoroughly clean line, while also making sure that there are no remains of the cleaning solution. You might require up to 10 litres of water through each tap to ensure clean lines. Also, bleed your water through the fob detectors and bleed points, as well as the electrical pumps.
Clean Lines and Freshly Brewed Beer
Finally, use a litmus paper to ensure that there are no remains of the cleaning solution in the line. Drain the cleaning container and switch the cleaning gas pump off. Once this is done, you can reconnect the keg coupler on to the beer container. Run the beer through a fob detector to ensure there is no water trapped in the system. Replace the sparklers and diffusers and wait for the beer to come through. You might not want to serve the first glass that comes out just to ensure a uniform quality of the beer, as it just might have a little extra water.
You have succeeded in cleaning your beer line and while it might not seem too difficult, it is very important when it comes to serving the best beer you can to your customers time and again. People notice the subtle differences in the taste of beer and come to bars and restaurants for those beers on tap. Taking these steps for a couple of hours every week will ensure that you have a great line in the cellar and an even greater line waiting for a tall glass of freshly brewed chilled beer.