If you’ve ever seen beer being served, you might think that getting beer from a keg is a fairly simple process. Even In a basic system, there are six core components. A cooler, a keg, coupler, a gas source, tubing and a font. It can be a lot more complicated for establishments serving multiple beverages from kegs possibly located far away from the font, but this is the basic setup.
Let’s take a closer look at these components.
Beer needs to be served at the right temperature. For premium beers, it’s recommended serving them at 3 degrees Celsius. To start the beer cooling process before it is served, most establishments will have their kegs stored in a cool place, usually in a cellar. Couple this with an energy-efficient hydrocarbon cooler and you’re good to go.
If you really want to ensure cool beer with minimum hassle, keg coolers provide the right temperature, every time. They can store 1 x 50L keg at a time or some keg coolers can store up to 10 x 50L or 20 x 30L kegs, which makes them ideal for large establishments.
Most beers come in kegs, and kegs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. There is a down tube that goes down to the bottom of the keg. Gas is pumped in and beer is forced up through the down tube.
To safely connect to the down tube, a coupler needs to be used. This small but extremely important part of the system clamps onto the keg and opens the way for gas to enter the keg and beer to flow through the line that is connected from the coupler to the font. Before investing in couplers, find out what type of coupler you will need for your system.
As stated previously, gas pushes beer out of the keg. Most bars and restaurants will use mainly CO2 cylinders. Pressure levels can be controlled via a beer regulator and often up to 40psi will be required to provide the constant flow that businesses require. Keeping an eye on this pressure is vital too, as too high pressure may result in the gas being absorbed by the product resulting in fobbing beer. If using CO2, it needs to vented out of the building to ensure that there isn’t a build-up of this gas.
Tubing (or Lines)
Tubing is needed to bring the beer from keg to font. For longer distances, it’s a good idea to have this tubing insulated with material that will help keep the beer cool. It is recommended that lines are cleaned regularly as this will help avoid any issues with build-up of bacteria that will spoil the finished drink.
Common Problems and Maintenance Advice
Check the Valves
Regularly checking the valves and the seals, specifically on the coupler, should keep your system in top shape. If there are any damaged or faulty valves, avoid operating the system until those parts have been replaced.
Get the CO2 Pressure Right
This is crucial and you need to make sure that the right pressure is applied to keg. This will guarantee carbonation levels are correct when the beer is dispensed. If there’s too much pressure, the carbonation will be absorbed and affect the beverage. For busy establishments, consider a low gas pressure monitor.
Use FOBs (Foam on Beer Detectors)
If you have a system without a FOBs, consider getting one fitted. This will ensure that the system reduces beer foam, which is usually wasted and helps increase beer profits. It also ensures the system doesn’t run dry even when the beer supply runs out.