Importance of Beer Line Maintenance and procedure

A brewer may take up to several months to brew, finish, and package a keg of beer. The quality and flavour of that beer can be ruined in the few seconds it takes for a beer to travel from a keg to the faucet in a draft system that has not been properly maintained.

I hope to educate and advise in this post so going forwards you will understand the causes and preventative measures to take to keep your beer quality the best it can be.

So what is meant by dirty beer and beer fobbing? Well as you can imagine there is a plethora of possibilities and pitfalls that can occur that promotes negative beer quality. Let’s start with the basics……

Beer Fobbing

When used in reference to beer dispense, the term “fobbing” generally refers to excess foaming while pouring draught beer.

Poor beer quality

Signs of a bad/poor beer are plentiful. These include obviously the taste, smell and visual.

Causes stem from the age of the beer, as there is a fine line between the production of beer, and the actually serving in your favourite drinking hole.

The temperature the beer is kept at while in the cellar. Is the beer exposed to light? The upkeep and age of the cellar and equipment the beer is stored in and pulled through. All the way down to simple things that really should be eliminated purely through good housekeeping like clean glassware and uncontaminated pump nozzles.

Terms commonly used to describe bad beer quality:

1) Cloudy Beer

A cloudy pint usually means poor line hygiene or yeast in the lines. Of course, it goes without saying always let a beer rest before judging its cloudiness. Check your refrigeration unit to ensure that your keg isn’t being exposed to alternating warm and cool temperatures. Never let your keg get above 45ºF. Beer doesn’t stay good forever. Check the expiration date on the keg and/or institute an inventory management system that helps you keep track of your kegs.

2) Foamy Beer

Instead of being mostly liquid with just the right amount of creamy head on top, the glass is filled with wasteful foam. The temperature is too warm, lower the temperature in the refrigeration unit that holds your kegs (ideally, to between 36º and 40ºF).

If using glycol to dispense, ensure that your glycol bath is set to dispense at that range as well. The faucet is dirty or broken. Inspect faucet and washers and replace both as needed. Every few weeks, remove and disassemble your faucet, then clean it with hot water and a brush. The beer hose has kinks or obstructions. Inspect your hose and make corrections, if necessary.

The CO2 pressure is too high. Adjust your regulator to lower the CO2 pressure. Of course this is all assuming that the beer was poured properly. There is a certain art to pouring the perfect pint and sometimes through incompetence or being rushed the beer pulling process is not done correctly. Employee training will rectify this particular problem.

3) Flat Beer

Serving flat beer, or beer that doesn’t have the right level of carbonation, will quickly drive away customers. Beer at its best has a certain effervescence that helps enhance the drinking experience. In many ways, flat beer is the exact inverse problem of beer that is too foamy (or over-carbonated).

If your beer is coming out flat, here are some potential problems to address:

  • The temperature is too cold. Raise the temperature in the refrigeration unit that holds your kegs (ideally, to between 36º and 40ºF).
  • If using glycol to dispense, ensure that your glycol bath is set to dispense at that range as well.
  • The CO2 pressure is too low. Adjust your regulator to raise the CO2 pressure.
  • The glass is dirty. Grease is the enemy of carbonation. Ensure your glasses are clean and rinse with cold water just before pouring