Cold Beer Matters: Maintaining Your Glycol Cooling System

glycol system beer cooling

A glycol cooling system implements a separate chiller that uses the power of glycol to move beer further distances, while still keeping it cold from keg to tap.

Cold beer matters. That’s the long and the short of it. As the craft beer revolution has taken root, the emphasis on “the colder the better” has certainly waned; but still, no one wants to be served a room temperature glass of brew when they expect something a bit frostier and more refreshing.

That’s why glycol systems are so integral to the success of bars that pride themselves on their beer service. Glycol dispensing is a premium option that dependably delivers perfectly chilled beer in order to quench your customers’ thirsts and keep them coming back for round after round of the good stuff.

Of course, if your glycol system is broken, it isn’t doing any of that. Instead, it’s little more than a very expensive decoration that’s doing you essentially no good at all. The easiest way to prevent this from happening (and a far cheaper way than having to replace anything) is to regularly maintain all parts of your glycol dispensing system–the glycol chiller, the trunk line, the bath, the hardware, and the glycol itself.

To make your life easier, we’ve compiled this brief list of glycol system troubleshooting tips. If you’re experiencing issues with improper beer temperature or any other dispensing problem, this list is a good place to start.

  • Is the cover of your glycol bath closed? If you leave the cover open, you risk allowing water vapor to dilute and weaken your glycol.

  • Is your glycol bath the right temperature? We recommend regularly checking the temperature of your glycol bath (weekly is ideal, but no less than biweekly) to ensure that it’s within the optimal range as noted by the manufacturer. Many glycol chillers are equipped with a temperature gauge on the outside, but if you are experiencing issues, it’s worth your time to manually measure the temperature with a thermometer.

  • Is your beer being dispensed at the faucet at the right temperature? Even if the chiller unit is reading the correct temperature, you should still check the temperature of the beer coming out of the faucet. This is because the length of the system could produce a drastically different temperature at the faucet then what is read and recorded at the chiller itself.

  • Is the motor running smoothly? Observe your glycol chiller and listen for signs of distress from the motor. If you hear anything out of the ordinary or feel unexpected heat, call your draft beer technician.

  • Are the pumps operating correctly? Ensure that the connections are tight and that all the insulation is accounted for. Much like the motor, the pump should always operate very smoothly, so any noticeable clanking, grinding, or other out-of-the-ordinary noise is a clear red flag.

  • Is the condenser free of dirt and other obstructions? We recommend checking your condenser every three to five weeks and cleaning as necessary. The condenser won’t require a thorough cleaning with every check, but every so often, you’ll want to remove the grills to get access to the condenser fins. Scrub these fins with a stiff brush and/or vacuum inside the condenser thoroughly to remove built-up debris.

  • Is there any damage to your trunk lines? When properly installed, your trunk line is very durable. However, over time, it’s possible to experience ice buildup due to insulation damage or glycol leakage. It’s a good idea to visually inspect your trunk line at least a couple of times a year, or whenever your system is experiencing issues.

  • Is your glycol mixed properly? You should always follow manufacturer specs for your glycol mixture, but typically, you’ll want to be in a ratio range of 35 – 40% glycol to water. Every few months, take a quick look at your glycol bath to check the viscosity and see if anything is noticeably amiss. At least once every year or so, test the freezing point with a refractometer or hydrometer and make any necessary adjustments to ensure optimal performance.

As always, if you check your system against these troubleshooting issues and the problem persists, please feel free to reach out to our team, and we’ll do what we can to help.


  • James October 25, 2016 @ 11:29pm

    I’ve noticed a white sludge in the site glass on our chilled unit and it seems to be having trouble keeping up with our coolinh demands. I have also noticed the prv gauge at 0. Wondering if the system is gummed up and what might be causing this. We have installed Hugh quality Gylcol to the proper ratios (I believe). And advice is appreciated.

    • Caitlin Hartney October 26, 2016 @ 10:04am

      Hi, James. Can you let us know what ratio you used?

  • Mark October 28, 2016 @ 5:03pm

    Do you have to change out the Glycol in a bar Glycol system?

  • Chiller bath temp December 6, 2017 @ 2:18am

    What is the temp range on chiller

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