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Draft Beer Systems

Maintaining Your Draft Beer System
Draft Beer Parts
Common Draft Beer Questions
Draft Beer Troubleshooting
Common Draft Tower Questions


Maintaining Your Draft Beer System

Luckily, there isnt a whole lot of maintenance that needs to be done to your draft beer system.

But here are some KegWorks pointers:

  • Keep both the inside and outside clean with normal cleaning agents.

  • Clean your beer lines every time you change your keg. Using a cleaning kit is the easiest way to do this. It only takes a few minutes and will assure your beer tastes fresh and crisp. This will also help to avoid sediment build up in the beer lines, which can cause foam.


Draft Beer Parts

Serving draft beer at home is much easier then you think. All you need is a home draft beer system. You may hear a draft system referred to as a keg tap, keg tapper, kegerator, keg pumps or picnic pumps. Below is a summary of all the types of draft beer products that we carry.

Faucet Handle
Sometimes called a faucet knob or tap handle. This is the lever that you pull on the faucet to make the beer come out. You can screw just about any faucet handle onto our faucets. Our kits come with a small, black generic one. More info

Faucet
This is where the beer comes out. There are lots of parts inside the faucet, so it should be cleaned regularly. More info

Shank
This is a long steel tube that runs through the hole you drill in your fridge door. The faucet screws into one end and the beer line screws onto the other. More info

Beer Line Jumper
This is a 5-foot long piece of dense, food-grade tubing that connects the keg coupler to the faucet/shank assembly. We provide you with the proper connectors to attach the beer line at both ends. More info

Keg Coupler
This piece attaches to the keg and actually taps it. There are six different types of keg couplers used throughout the world. Which ones you will need will depend upon which brand of beer you drink. Click here for a list of which keg couplers go with which brands of beer. More info

CO2 Tank
Most of our kits come with a 5-pound steel CO2 Tank. With this size CO2 Tank, you can serve about 5-7 half kegs of beer. Welding supply companies, fire extinguisher supply companies, and gas dealers can fill CO2 tanks. Look under "Gas" in the yellow pages in your local phone book for dealers near you. More info

Regulator
The regulator connects to the CO2 Tank. It steps the gas pressure down to a level that is right for dispensing beer. Most of our kits come with a double gauge regulator. One gauge tells you the pressure going into the keg; the other gauge tells you how much air you have left in your air tank. More info

Air Line Jumper
This piece of tubing runs between the regulator and the keg coupler. We provide you with the proper connectors to attach the air line at both ends. More info

Beer Line Cleaning Kits
Keeping your beer lines clean will help to make sure that your beer tastes its very best. Over time, your beer lines collect beer deposits that can affect the taste of your beer and even cause excess foaming. We recommend that you clean your lines after each 1/2 keg. More info


Common Draft Beer Questions

What size keg will fit into my refrigerator?
What size refrigerator should I buy?
How much beer is in a keg?
What temperature should my draft beer be kept?
How long will my draft beer stay fresh once I have tapped the keg?
How long does a 5-pound CO2 cylinder last?
Where can I get my CO2 tank filled?
Why is my beer foamy?
I'm planning on putting a draft beer tower on my bar, and keeping the keg in a refrigerator nearby. Is there anything I need to know?


What size keg will fit into my refrigerator?
A standard US quarter barrel measures: 12-13" high, with a 16" diameter. A standard US half barrel measures: 23" high, with a 16" diameter. European kegs vary in size, but are similar to US sizes.

The average CO2 tank has a diameter of about 6" and may be kept either inside or out of the fridge. There should be a little bit of room around the sides of the keg for air circulation. Also leave about 6"- 8" above the keg for the keg coupler.

So, that said, to know for sure if it will all fit make sure to read online measurements carefully before ordering. If you are unsure feel free to call. Or take a trip to your local beer retailer and ask for any empty keg. (They will usually charge you a $10.00 deposit). Then put the keg inside the fridge you plan to purchase to make sure that the fridge is big enough.

What size refrigerator should I buy?
That's a tough one for us to answer. It depends upon your space and your budget. We can't recommend any specific size or model because there are so many good ones out there. But we will do our best to give you some pointers.

It can be difficult to find a fridge that is small enough to fit under your counter and large enough to hold a keg. Compact fridges usually are not a good option either they usually have a vegetable bin in the bottom, and a compressor which makes these hard to fit a keg.

We suggest you take your beer goggles off and measure!

How much beer is in a keg?
How much beer is in your keg is up to you!

Breweries no longer make whole kegs; they stopped about 35 years ago because they were just too heavy to lug around. Your options are the following:

  • 1/2 keg: Holds 15.5 gallons, which is 7 cases of beer
  • 1/4 keg: Holds 7.75 gallons, which is 3 1/2 cases of beer
  • Beer ball: Holds 5 gallons of beer, which is equal to 2 1/4 cases of beer.

If you are looking for something even smaller, you may be able to find a 5-gallon mini-keg.

What temperature should my draft beer be kept?
Draft beer is not pasteurized, so it must be kept cold, preferably between 38 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit could turn your beer sour and cloudy. So, keep it cool!

How long will my draft beer stay fresh once I have tapped the keg?
Once its tapped, draft beer will taste fresh for about 20 - 30 days. Longer than a few weeks it loses its fresh brewery taste and aroma. Craft/Micro brews often have a shorter shelf life.

How long does a 5-pound CO2 cylinder last?
5 pounds of CO2 should serve approximately five to seven half-barrels. Make sure that all airline connections are good and tight - CO2 can leak very easily. Its best to leave the tank outside of the fridge if possible. You will get more air out of the tank if its kept room temperature.

Where can I get my CO2 tank filled?
Look in your local phone books yellow pages under the heading "Gas". There should be several gas distributors in your area. Just call a few of them and ask if they fill small tanks with CO2 (sometimes called beer gas). Also, call some local fire extinguisher suppliers and welding suppliers, sometimes they fill CO2 tanks. To fill a 5-pound CO2 tank usually costs between $7.00 and $11.00 depending upon where you live.

Why is my beer foamy?
There are a few things that can cause foamy beer: Warm spots in the beer line, or the keg itself, dirty beer lines, twists or kinks in beer line. Also, an unsettled keg can cause foamy beer. Let the keg settle for two to three hours before tapping it. Click here to view our Trouble Shooting Guide.

I'm planning on putting a draft beer tower on my bar, and keeping the keg in a refrigerator nearby. Is there anything I need to know?
Yes! Exposed beer lines may cause foamy beer. So, if the beer line running from the fridge to your tower is not refrigerated, you will most likely have foamy beer. There are commercial ways of actually refrigerating the beer lines, but they are VERY expensive. There are ways to reduce foamy beer in this type of situation:

  • Minimize the distance of exposed beer line - the shorter the better.
  • Wrap all the exposed beer line in thick foam tubing to keep it cool. Home Depot has it and its not at all expensive.
  • Remember to plug the hole in the refrigerator that the beer line comes from. Spray foam insulation works well.


Draft Beer Troubleshooting
On rare occasions you may experience foamy or cloudy beer, here are some great troubleshooting techniques.
Condition:
Cloudy beer
Beer appears hazy and not clear.
Causes and Corrections:
Over Chilling
Excessive low temperatures may cause hazy and cloudy beer, particularly when beer lies for a long period of time. Maintain refrigerator temperature at 36 to 40F.

Partial opening of beer faucet
Open the faucet quickly and completely.

Having anything warm on or near your keg
When anything that is not cold, such as meats, vegetables, fish or fruits are placed on a keg of cold beer, the beer becomes warm long before these products chill down. This change in temperature can cause cloudy beer.
Condition:
Flat beer
Foamy head disappears quickly, beer lacks usual zestful brewery-fresh flavor.
Causes and Corrections:
Greasy glass
Do not wash beer glasses together with glasses that have contained milk or any other fatty substance. Lipstick is a fatty substance, be sure it is removed from the glass. Eating greasy foods while drinking beer can cause this too. Wash glasses thoroughly with a good detergent; do not use soap. Do not dry-wipe glasses. Allow glasses to air dry. Rinse in fresh cold water just before serving beer. It is best to serve beer in a wet glass. Beer Glasses should be used for beer and nothing else but beer.

Improper drawing of beer into glass
Open the faucet quickly and completely.

Check and find the correct distance to hold the glass from the faucet when drawing. Proper foam should be a tight creamy head, and the collar on the average glass should be 1/2" to 1" high. Beer drawn without a head has the appearance of being flat.

Not enough pressure
Check CO2 tank; if empty, get refilled.

Increase pressure if beer runs too slowly. Correct flow is to fill a 10 oz. glass in 4 seconds (approximately 8 oz. of liquid).

Check that there are no obstructions in the airline.

Check and replace the airline or CO2 regulator and gauge. Regulators will wear down, so be sure to replace after 4-6 years.

Make sure CO2 pressure is ON; do not run the system off the keg pressure alone.

Make sure temperature of refrigerator is not above 40 F.

Condition:
Loose foam
Large soap-like bubbles, foam settles quickly.
Causes and Corrections:
See "Flat Beer" Causes and Corrections
Condition:
Off-tasting beer
Often bitter and bitey. Sometimes completely lacking in flavor and zest. May also have oily or foul odor, carrying an unpleasant taste.
Causes and Corrections:
Dirty system
Clean the entire system monthly or immediately after each keg is emptied. The faucet should be removed, disassembled and cleaned with hot water and a brush weekly. Inexpensive cleaning compounds, equipment and kits are available. Click here for Cleaning Kits.

Contaminated air line
Examine air line and replace if necessary. Dirty air lines should be washed with a good cleaning compound normally used for cleaning beer lines, then rinsed clean.

Old beer
The beer in the keg may be old and past its prime. Buy a fresh keg.
Condition:
Foamy or wild beer
Beer, when drawn, is all foam, or too much foam, and not enough liquid beer.
Causes and Corrections:
Warm beer
The beer keg must always be kept between 38F and 40 F.

Excessive CO2
Lower the amount of CO2 going to the keg; adjusting the regulator does this. Adjustments may not happen immediately. In a normal keg fridge set up, you should keep your regulator set between 10 and 12 psi. If a keg is over pressurized, pull the relief valve on your keg coupler for about 3 seconds. This will release some CO2 out of the keg. Wait about 15 minutes, and then turn your CO2 tank back on. Older regulators should be replaced completely as they do not last forever. Instructions for Connecting and Operating a Regulator

Old beer lines
Replace old beer lines. If you bought or inherited an older system, it would be wise to replace the beer line. Click here for replacement lines.

Improper drawing of beer into glass
Open faucet quickly and completely. Check and find the correct distance to hold the glass from the faucet when drawing. Proper foam should be a tight creamy head, and the collar on the average glass should be 1/2" to 1" high.

Obstruction in faucet
The faucet should be removed, disassembled and cleaned with hot water and a brush every few weeks.

Worn faucet parts
Replace worn washers as required. If faucet does not open wide, worn parts or entire faucet must be replaced. Click here for Faucet Rebuild Kits and New Faucets.

Warm spots in your beer line
Any warm spots in your beer line will cause foamy beer. All beer tubing should be kept inside your fridge. Long beer lines runs (6 feet or greater) can cause your CO2 pressure to be out of whack. A larger inside diameter of beer tubing may be necessary.



Common Draft Tower Questions

What is included with the tower?
What dont they come with that I will need?
Will any type of faucet handle screw onto the faucet head?
Where can I find a faucet handle of my favorite brand of beer?
Does it matter if I use a 2 1/2" diameter or 3" diameter tower?
I have an old tower. Do you have replacement parts for it?


What is included with the tower?
All of our towers come with the faucet head and about 3 feet of beer line. They are fully assembled.

What dont they come with that I will need?
Youll have to get a faucet handle and mounting screws. The screw holes are already drilled into the base of the tower. Towers don't come with mounting screws because every surface is different and can require different types of screws.

Will any type of faucet handle screw onto the faucet head?
Yes. You can put ANY type of faucet handle onto your faucet head.

Where can I find a faucet handle of my favorite brand of beer?
We have branded tap handles on our web site. If you can't find what you're looking for there, try asking the retailer where you buy your kegs. They may be able to help.

Does it matter if I use a 2 1/2" diameter or 3" diameter tower?
We suggest a 3 tower. To keep your beer line chilled and reduce foaminess, you will want to force some of the cold air from your refrigerator through your lines and into your tower. By using a larger diameter tower, there is more room for cold air to circulate up in the tower.

I have an older tower. Do you have replacement parts for it?
We do carry replacement parts, but there are many tower manufacturers. Each one used different pieces inside the tower to connect the beer line to the faucet so it is very difficult to match up those pieces. We do have some generic replacement parts available. But, most times it is just easier to replace your old tower with a new one because the replacement parts can cost more than a new whole one.


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