Recent decades have seen a wave of technological advances in the pub and bar trade. New products have been introduced to make some of the regular chores associated with running licensed premises a little quicker and easier.
Beer line cleaning is an area that has seen a variety of changes and advances – from outsourced service providers who’ll do the job for you, through to ultrasonic beerline cleaners, such as StayClean, which extend the period between beer line cleans.
Automatic beer line cleaning systems are another entry to the market. There are essentially two types of automated line cleaners: portable and fixed.
A fixed system is permanently installed in the cellar. Plumbed in to the cleaning ring, when switched on, the automated beer line cleaner will pump the cleaning fluid around the beer pipes and then flush everything through with clean water.
A portable beer line cleaning system offers the same functionality and is usually contained in some form of carry-case. The system plugs in to the cleaning ring and is targeted primarily at cellar technicians and other outsourced beer line cleaning service providers, although pubs and bars can find them useful, especially in venues where there may be more than one cellar.
The primary benefits of automated beer line cleaners come in the form of time saved, reduced exposure of staff to cleaning chemicals and improved hygiene – from lines that are cleaned to brewery standards through to efforts to make the grubby pull-through bucket redundant.
There are a number of established automatic beerline cleaner manufacturers in the UK and some of the major breweries, including Heineken and Carlsberg are also now getting in on the act.
Qualflow offer a range of portable line cleaning devices, including their PLCS Automatic with Vortex, which uses the mechanical energy of turbulence to improve the action of standard line cleaning chemicals. Qualflow claim that this device improves cleaning efficiency by 50% when compared to traditional hand-cleaned lines.
Verxclean is the fixed product from Qualflow and is designed for larger venues. Aimed at pub companies, chains and groups, the system is fitted in the cellar and plays strongly on reliability and reduced cost of ownership achieved through associated service savings. Qualflow claim to offer improved cleansing when compared to other leading manufacturers and employs its Smart Hose, which ensures that line cleaning detergent is evenly distributed to all of the lines.
The longest established manufacturer in the automatic beer line cleaning sector, Beer Piper has been supplying the on-trade with automated line cleaning products since 1988.
Offering both portable and fixed systems, Beer Piper refers to itself as the pre-eminent supplier of line cleaning equipment to the licensed industry. The BP3 portable system is again aimed at cellar technicians and service engineers.
The fixed automatic beer line cleaning system from Beer Piper requires its own cleaning ring and comes with a range of standard couplers. Cleaning one line at a time, the manufacturer claims that it takes less than six minutes to achieve a thorough clean. The product also offers a rinse only function for cask ales.
Bier Pro currently only offers a fixed automatic beerline cleaning system which they call the Cellar Buddy. Capable of cleaning up to 10 lines at once in a cycle that takes only 45 minutes, the Cellar Buddy connects to the existing cleaning ring and works in conjunction with the Bier Pro Drain Safe system, for a hassle free beer line cleaning solution. The system pulls the cleaning fluid and flush through the system and back to the cellar from the fob, without the need for manual pull through or buckets.
All of these products offer additional features, including highly accurate dosing technology to ensure that the correct mix of line cleaning fluid is used every time. The systems also incorporate functions (in-built or through ancillary products) that allow the bar to sell the beer in the lines that would usually be thrown away when undertaking a manual clean.
Reducing the frequency of beer line cleaning will save you money on chemicals, labour, water and most importantly reduce the amount of product you waste – increasing the profit in every barrel of beer you sell.
The market has also taken advantage of mobile App technology and reporting, with both Beer Piper and Qualflow storing frequency, dosage and other data relating to the cleaning process. Some of the suppliers also claim that their products can extend the period between cleans as a result of the depth and thoroughness of their process.
Whilst automatic beer line cleaning systems take the time and hassle factors out of cleaning the lines at your bar – and also guarantee a high level of hygiene, which should ensure the quality and flavour of the beers you serve – the cost of the equipment can be prohibitive, particularly for smaller venues.
So, do you really need a fixed system in your cellar, or would you be better served by an outsourced technician, or an alternative, more cost effective technology? The answer is that it probably all comes down to maths and the balance sheet for your business.