Draft Beer 101: Beer and Air Lines

When you think about the parts of a draft beer dispensing system or kegerator, you probably get certain images in your head. You might picture the tower, the faucet, or the tap handle. Or maybe you’re a real pro and your mind’s eye goes inside the cabinet, envisioning the regulator, the CO2 tank, the coupler, or the keg itself.

Obviously, these are all mandatory pieces of equipment that must work together to help you pour perfectly every time. But wait one second…isn’t there something missing from this list? Some integral part of any draft beer dispensing system that often gets overlooked? You’re darn right there is: beer and air lines!

beer air lines keg

How could you forget about beer and air lines?!?

Over the years that KegWorks has been helping people set up systems designed to help them enjoy fresh draft beer in their homes and commercial establishments, we’ve come to discover that beer and air lines are the most overlooked part of any draft beer dispensing system.

We know what you’re thinking: “Oh those plastic tubes? Who cares about them?” Well, even though they might seem unexciting, taking proper care of your beer and air lines is an absolutely essential part of successful dispensing. To help make that easier than ever, we figured it might be time to shine a spotlight on the most taken-for-granted part of your kegerator.

Beer Line

beer and air line kegerator

Beer line is available in both ⅜-inch and 3/16-inch inside diameters.

At KegWorks, all of our beer line is made from food-grade, PVC vinyl that’s approved by the FDA, USDA, USP Class VI, NSF, and UL. It’s specially engineered to prevent rotting, cracking, drying out, or swelling, so even with regular use, you can rest assured that it will continue to get the job done.

To match the exact needs of your draft dispensing system, we offer beer line in both ⅜-inch and 3/16-inch inside diameters. For most home dispensing setups, 3/16-inch is a fine choice, but in a commercial setup with a long draw, ⅜-inch helps provide a quicker, more efficient flow rate with less required pressure.

Beer line is available by the foot, in a 100-foot coil, or in a pre-cut 5-foot jumper (a perfect length for the majority of home dispensing/kegerator situations).

Air Line

beer air line kegerator

Air line is available in 5/16-inch inside diameter and in red and clear vinyl.

KegWorks air lines are made from the same material as our beer lines. Again, this special food-grade PVC vinyl provides market-leading durability for years of dependable dispensing.

Air line is only available in 5/16-inch inside diameter because that size is designed to provide a proper amount of gas pressure to help power dispensing from virtually any draft beer system.

We offer air line in both clear and red vinyl. Many people opt for the red vinyl to help easily distinguish between the air and beer lines, but others prefer to utilize clear tubing for both beer and air in order to better identify and troubleshoot any potential blockages or other issues.

Like beer line, we sell air line by the foot, in a 100-foot coil (both clear and red), and in pre-assembled jumpers.

Quick Disconnects

beer air line quick disconnect

Quick disconnects make keg management a breeze.

If you are regularly changing the beer you have on tap, it’s a wise move to attach quick disconnects to your beer and air line. These special attachments make it easy to switch out the coupler or air tank for hassle-free management of your keg and its frosty contents.

Troubleshooting

Both your beer and air lines are very durable pieces of draft beer dispensing equipment. The PVC vinyl is specially designed to withstand just about everything you throw at it, but there are a couple of things you’ll want to pay attention to.

  • First off, both your beer and air line need to remain unkinked. If there are unnatural bends or creases in the line, it will drastically impact the system’s ability to pour correctly.
  • Second, for both reliable dispensing and to ensure the freshest beer possible, you should clean your beer lines between every keg or at least once every few weeks. We sell a variety of specialized beer line cleaning kits that make this job as easy as possible.

That’s it! Now you know everything you could ever want to know about our beer and air lines. Of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or shoot us an email at social@kegworks.com, and we’ll make sure you get the info you need.

 

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6 Comments

  • Robbie April 1, 2016 @ 12:45am

    Can beer & air lines be ran over top of a suspended ceiling from an outside cooler instead of running them underground & if so, how far of a distance??

    • Caitlin Hartney April 1, 2016 @ 8:38am

      Hi, Robbie. That would require a chiller and pump system. If this is for a commercial draft beer system and you need additional information, I suggest speaking with one of our draft beer specialists at 1.888.415.2803.

  • Robert Wohl January 23, 2019 @ 8:36pm

    Hello! I have opportnunity to by a 40 tap direct draft system which includes a 24’x8′ walk in cooler; 40 taps mounted on outside of one of the long sides; 8 gas distributors(one for each set of 5 taps; all fittings couplings etc; 10′ of drain pans w 2 rinsers below the taps. No secondary regulators just the distributors. Everything I have read says length should be no more than 5′ from keg to shank. This is fine for the 20 kegs along tap wall side of cooler. Kegs on opposite side would need lines 15′ to 20′ to go up and over the ceiling and down to taps. Questions:1. Can I just increase line i.d. to 5/16? 2. With 8 gas distributors I assume I can have 8 co2 tanks with individual primary regulators. Would having “custom” pressure for each set of 5 taps help? 3. Should I give up on having lengths longer than 5′ and double up the kegs with seperate shelf or purchase the device that lets you put one keg on top of another and still tap it. Then all kegs would be near taps. Interestingly, advice for one member who ran a 5′ pvc pipe with blower from his fridge to his bar recommended using 12′ of hose , not anything less, and curling up the excess. All help is appreciated. I am excited about the opportunity to add this to my existing cafe but want to avoid big mistakes. Thanks

    • Chris February 1, 2019 @ 1:22pm

      Hi Robert,

      It sounds like you’re building an awesome draft system for your cafe! One thought I do have is that your system would likely be best for use with glycol cooling. For the majority of long draw or commercial draft beer systems, especially those running 6 or more beer lines or draft systems running over 15 feet, a glycol chiller system is recommended.

      The rest of these questions would be best to discuss with our draft beer experts at Customer Care. They can be reached at 877.636.3673, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm EST. You can also reach out here. They will be able to discuss specifics about your system and answer all your questions. Cheers!

  • Howard February 12, 2019 @ 9:28am

    Can you use the standard beer lines for nitrogen, or does the additional pressure require a different diameter or type of line?

    • Chris February 12, 2019 @ 10:16am

      Hi Howard,

      The short answer is that standard vinyl lines are used whether you’re using CO2 or Nitrogen. The one caveat to that is that wine or kombucha on tap would require barrier lines. A different diameter for the lines may be used depending on the length, resistance, and gravity affecting your system. Check out our blog on determining pressure for your system for more info on that.

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