Draft Beer Systems: Maintaining Proper Pressure

Keep your draft beer pouring perfectly and improve the quality of your brew by maintaining the proper pressure.

As CO2 enters a keg it displaces your beer at a constant pressure, replacing poured beer by occupying the space that otherwise would be empty. The empty space in the keg is referred to as “head space.” The CO2 fills the head space and maintains the pressure inside of the keg at the PSI set on your CO2 regulator. Maintaining a constant PSI keeps your beer perfectly carbonated by preventing the CO2 that’s dissolved in the beer from leaking out of the keg.

Double Gauge Premium Nitrogen RegulatorHow best do you maintain proper pressure? Here’s some tips:

Store your air tank upright
Your CO2 tank will not work properly if it’s not stored upright, and could even cause damage to your regulator.

Find your PSI
Most US-produced ales and lagers dispense well at 10-12 PSI, while stouts or other nitrogen-dispensed brews work well at 25-30 PSI. If you’re having problems utilizing these general guidelines, check with the local distributor from which you got the keg; they may have a suggestion for that particular beer.

Too much pressure? Indicators and how to fix it:
Initially, too mush pressure results in fast pouring, extremely foamy beer. Think fire hose. Foam in over-carbonated beer will appear tight with large bubbles.

Fix over-carbonated beer by immediately adjusting your regulator to a proper, lower level and either pour off a few foamy pitchers or bleed off some of the extra pressure via the relief valve on the regulator. This way, your system can find its balance. If you leave your system at too high a pressure for longer than 24 hours, your keg will be permanently over-carbonated and excessively foamy.

Not enough pressure? Indicators and how to fix it:
If air pressure isn’t high enough, your beer will be over foamy too, but it will look more loose than if there’s too much pressure; small bubbles that are often described as “soapy” looking. Another sign that your beer is under-carbonated is if foam and/or bubbles actually rise into the beer line. If you don’t raise pressure to a proper PSI soon enough, your beer will become flat.

To correct low pressure, first check to make sure your air tank isn’t empty and that it’s turned on. This seems like a “duh” suggestion but sometimes it’s the simplest issue that causes the problem. Next, check your regulator to be sure it’s set at the right level. If the tank is functioning and there aren’t any obstructions in your air line, and your regulator is set to the correct PSI, then most likely your regulator or gauge needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, regulators do wear out and typically need to be replaced every 4-6 years or so.

Hope these pressure pointers do you and your draft beer some good. Cheers!


  • Amgad March 22, 2011 @ 2:53pm

    My name is Amgad I’m a restaurant and bar manager. my draft beer system is not working (the beer comes out warm) if you can fix it for me please email me back ASAP.

  • Hannah March 22, 2011 @ 3:01pm

    Amgad – Is your keg properly refrigerated? If so, you’ll also want to make sure the beer lines are kept cold so that beer isn’t getting warm en route from keg to beer glass. Are the beer lines in the keg fridge or at least properly insulated?

  • Steve May 11, 2015 @ 5:38pm

    when i first tap a keg (always a craft brew IPA) it tastes great as intended for about 5 days or so. After that, its still okay, but not great like it was in week 1. After the second week, another drop off in taste. Still drinkable, but a far cry from two weeks ago. Am i doing something wrong with my CO2 pressure or is this just the nature of the beast? I use 5 gallon kegs in a refridgerator conversion kegerator. temp 37F, pressure 10-12psi. No foaming issues, great pours every time. (seven foot beer lines took care of the foaming). At 10-11 psi i get bubbles developing above the coupler (suggesting low pressure?) if i raise the pressure just to the point that those bubbles dont form (12-13psi), the beer loses flavor almost instantly (over carbonation?) What am i doing wrong?

    • Caleb Houseknecht May 12, 2015 @ 12:36pm

      Hey Steve,

      A couple of things come to mind. First, an IPA will have a change in flavor as time progresses from the point of tapping the keg. Also, remember the beer in the line is semi-exposed to air, and the oxidization that occurs is unavoidable. The more carbonated the beer is, and the colder it is, the less flavor your tongue processes. If you are experiencing off flavors you may have some problems with your lines or hardware. Make sure to clean your lines after every keg.

      Also, 7 feet of beer line indicates to me that you should be on the higher end of 12-15 psi. I would let the beer sit for a minute or two to reduce temp and let off some of the gas. See how that work. Hope that helps!

      • doug August 12, 2017 @ 9:37pm

        o2 does not get into the lines unless somethings wrong…

  • Ron June 29, 2015 @ 7:43pm

    I’m having a problem with pressure. I set the co2 at 10. But as the night progresses it keeps rising and rising and rising. I turn the knob to where it’s barely on and still it rises. The only way that it stops is to turn off the co2 completely. What am I screwing up.

    • Caleb Houseknecht June 30, 2015 @ 12:49pm

      Hey Ron,

      It sounds like it may be a Regulator issue. Try turning off of the shut off going to the keg. Leave the gas on to the regulator overnight. See if the pressure changes to the regulator, or if it holds…

      • Marcos January 16, 2016 @ 5:26pm

        What happen if it continues to rise or hold?
        I’m experiencing the same issue

        • Chris April 4, 2019 @ 11:14am

          Hi Marcos,

          This issue could be caused by a couple different reasons. One, is that the pressure relief valve should be pulled on the coupler. Otherwise, the pressure could be affected overnight. Another is an issue with the regulator. Disassembling the unit and cleaning any dust or debris off the regulator can solve this problem.

  • Josh November 21, 2015 @ 6:16pm

    I am having an issue where the pressure seems to trail off while pouring to the point that it stops. I come back 5 minutes later and the pressure is good, but then trails off throughout the pour. The CO2 looks good and gauge indicates plenty of gas. I have the pressure set at 12psi. I don’t see any kinks in the line or anything like that. Any ideas? Thanks

  • Chris November 24, 2015 @ 3:35pm

    I have a keezer with three kegs that feed a tower in my bar. The length of beer line for each is approx 12 feet (3/16″ line). Beer is stored at 36 degrees. Where should my psi be set? Currently around 12 – pours a little slow, but beers seems adequately carbonated. Trying to avoid over carbonating, but everything I read indicates I should have the psi set much higher with the length of line I have.

  • Justin January 22, 2016 @ 5:45pm

    If my c02 runs out in the middle of a keg, is it best to untap the keg to maintain pressure until I can get it refilled or well the regulator hold it at a steady pressure in the interim.

    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 5:19pm

      Hi Justin,

      The regulator will hold the pressure until you reinstall a new CO2 tank, so you’re all set with not untapping the keg.

  • Jay March 2, 2016 @ 9:39pm

    Hi. So I tapped my beer this pass Sunday and it pours out slowly but taste carbonated. The psi is set to 12. I have 3 lines hooked up but only 2 are in use (it’s a keeper). I’m looking to get that 1/2 of foam? Should I raise the psi? Shake the keg up? Thanks for any help you can give.

    • Caitlin Hartney March 4, 2016 @ 9:16am

      Hi, Jay. First, please don’t shake a keg! Second, there are multiple variables here, so we would need more information to provide a helpful answer. What temperature is the keg at? What style of beer is? it?

  • Mike March 3, 2016 @ 11:26am

    I have a Guinness set up with 75/25 Nitrogen/co2. I set it up at 30psi and somehow it got to 38 without my noticing. The head seems fine, however, I am unable to draw a shamrock in the head like I’ve done before. It seems like the head is too loose to hold the lines drawn. Does anyone know if this might be caused by the pressure being a little too high? The important part is that it looks and tastes right, but would still like to be able to add this little feature.

    • Caitlin Hartney March 4, 2016 @ 9:12am

      Hi, Mike. Yes, your problem is probably due to the pressure being a bit high. Hope you get it sorted out before St. Patrick’s Day!

  • Charlie S March 3, 2016 @ 4:38pm

    I just purchased a new kegarator and can’t get the CO2 set right to get rid of a mug full of foam and after settling for a bit foam goes down. Please tell me a good setting….book says between 10-12 but still major foam.

    • Caitlin Hartney March 4, 2016 @ 9:14am

      Hi, Charlie. Between 10 and 15 is the general recommendation. The first pint poured may be a bit foamy if the room is considerably warmer than the beer. When the cold beer hits the warm metal it releases CO2. The foaming should improve on subsequent pours.

  • Randy May 3, 2016 @ 8:15pm

    Hi all,
    My neighbor just gave me an old Keg-erator which I just cleaned and hooked up. I installed new lines and a new C02 tank. At first I had no pressure, but I think the regulator valve from the C02 was not fully open. I adjusted that and I have beer flowing, but without much pressure though the tank is turned on full. My pressure indicator I think is broken, it’s not showing any pressure at all, but there is beer flowing through the line. Would replacing the pressure gauge provide any help or does anyone have another suggestion?

    • Caitlin Hartney May 5, 2016 @ 2:53pm

      Hi, Randy. Does the dial move at all when you move the screw or knob that adjusts pressure?

      • Randy May 6, 2016 @ 2:49pm

        It does move now. However it won’t go past 10 psi no matter the adjustment and its jerks rather than moves smoothly. I have pressure in the system now, but the beer is very foamy. I think I’m having trouble with the right adjustment on pressure

        • Caitlin Hartney May 6, 2016 @ 3:14pm

          It sounds to us like the bladder or adjustment screw is shot. Unfortunately, that kind of problem calls for a new regulator.

  • Rich June 14, 2016 @ 8:44am

    I have a new kegco fridge with a commercial regulator (2 tap). I have to run 2-4psi in order for it not to foam up the mug. It pours clear but extremely fast. Any reccomendations? It’s at 36 degrees.

    • Caitlin Hartney June 14, 2016 @ 2:30pm

      Hi, Rich. We don’t carry this line of products, so we hesitate to speculate as to what might be wrong. Your best bet might be to contact the manufacturer directly.

  • Billy June 26, 2016 @ 1:14pm

    Hello..I am having Co2 issues..I have an IPA,keep the pressure between 10-12 psi,temp at 38 degrees.The pressure keeps spiking to 20-30 psi.I turn off the co2 and bleed the pressure off the keg and it drops back down but Ina few hours spikes again??

    • Caitlin Hartney June 28, 2016 @ 2:23pm

      Hi, Billy. It sounds to us like your regulator bladder is shot. We recommend replacing the regulator.

  • Mike July 25, 2016 @ 10:06pm

    im a night time bar managaer and my draft machine comes out extremly foamy and i have to adjust the flow nob to the lowest point where it takes forever to pour a mug of beer cause it just foams up how can fix this? thank you

    • Caitlin Hartney July 26, 2016 @ 10:25am

      Hi, Mike. Our draft specialist Jim should be able to help you troubleshoot the problem. You can email him at jimrozycki@kegworks.com or give him a call at 716.929.7570 x198.

  • Rokas October 19, 2016 @ 3:50am

    Hey, I’ve ran several different beers in my kegerator. 8 foot line (Colorado) 3/16 diameter. I have to keep my pressure st around 7 to 8 psi in order for it to foam properly with just the perfect head. My issue is that the beer seems not as carbonated as I’d like it to be. Taste just a bit flat. I know the recommendation is about 12-14 psi, but if I have it sit at that then my beer will constantly foam. Any ideas. Do I need to carbonate the beer or pressurize it somehow?
    Thank you

    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 5:09pm

      Hi Rokas,

      Most beers should be carbonated at 10-14 PSI. Otherwise there is likely an issue with the pressure. We wouldn’t recommend going over 5-6 feet if you’re using 3/16″ inner diameter tubing. This may be causing too much resistance, and not enough CO2 going into the beer, making it flat.

  • John July 11, 2017 @ 11:50am

    What’s the easiest way to check for a CO2 leak in beer line. It seems I am good to go and then after a week or two my gauge shows no more CO2 and thus beer does not flow. Apparently a leak someplace but how do I determine where leak might be —– I can do this immediately upon connecting new keg.

  • David Miller September 29, 2017 @ 10:03pm

    New to management if bar. I have one stout and all pilsner and ipas. What is the suggested pressure (PSI) FOR PROPER MAINTENANCE. 25 TO 30?

    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 4:56pm

      Hi David,

      Depending on the stout you’re pouring, you may need to use a separate system using 75% Nitrogen /25% CO2 mixed gas, similar to a Guinness kegerator. Most stouts are poured between 30-38 PSI, but it varies. Pilsners and IPA’s are poured using CO2 gas and components only, and at approximately 10-14 PSI.

      If you want to discuss further, please contact 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 your questions. Cheers!

  • Kevin October 18, 2017 @ 8:56am

    Hi guys,

    I’m tapped a local bar that is using a conventional two door and one door commercial refrigerator as keragator. I’m tap at 10 out of 12.

    The bar has a single large co2 tank that is connected to one single regulator set at 50 psi to push all the kegs.

    Most of the kegs are key kegs. What is proper psi that should be set for all the kegs to pour properly with no foam.

    What is the typical loss of pressure(psi) between each line? What is lost of pressure(psi) from line 1 to line 10?


    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 4:50pm

      Hi Kevin,

      Key kegs do typically run at around 50 PSI so you seem to be on the right track there. We would recommend taking a look at our “Determining the Right Pressure for Your Draft System” blog piece to be sure you’re balanced properly.

      For more detailed answers, I have to refer you to 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 your questions. Cheers!

  • Rick November 25, 2017 @ 4:10pm

    Set up my first ever kegerator… 1/4 keg of coors lite .. temp about 38f 10 psi ..the glass fills very quick but all foam when foam disappears I have just about 1/2 glass of flat beer .. please help and thank u

    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 4:46pm

      Hi Rick,

      You may want to try it a touch higher, maybe at approximately 12-14 PSI. We recommend 10-14 for most beers, though it varies. Coors may require a slightly higher PSI than other lagers.

  • John December 19, 2017 @ 4:02am

    Can I place the co2 bottle in the fridge with the keg?

  • Seth January 6, 2018 @ 6:34am

    Kegerator is new. First leg foamy entire time and thought it was how I initially set co2 psi. This time I carefully followed directions. 12 psi. All foam and the psi rose to like 50 by itself overnight. I turned it off but I don’t know what else to do. Beginning to hate kegerator

    • Caitlin January 11, 2018 @ 9:51am

      Hi, Seth. It’s possible something is faulty with the regulator, or it may have been set incorrectly. If it was at 50psi for a while, there’s also a chance the keg is now over carbonated and will continue to be foamy. Another possible factor is temperature, which you can read more about here: https://www.kegworks.com/blog/temperature-draft-beer-system-dispensing/

  • Andy May 3, 2018 @ 9:07pm

    I have a 2 regulator set up in my kegerator and I set my psi to about 5 or I just blow foam all over above that. My other issue is as I tap beers off the pressure in the keg falls off to nothing and won’t tap beers again till I turn the gas back up again. I never had to constantly adjust a regulator before

    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 4:34pm

      Hi Andy,

      This sounds like it could be a problem with either the line length or line resistance in your system. For a typical kegerator setup, we recommend starting with a PSI of 12, 3/16″ inner diameter beer lines, and 38 degrees Fahrenheit in your beer fridge. If you’re still experiencing issues, please contact 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 your questions. Cheers!

  • Martin May 5, 2018 @ 10:14am

    Hi, I’m planning to have a 15 to 20 Feet line for my kegerator. Probably also have several lines with different lengths for it (without altitud changes though). I’m not entirely sure if adding pressure to my keg in order to reach the tap properly might over-carbonate the beer, and else if that over-carbonation would be eliminated during the flow of the beer while reaching the tap. Maybe I should use a gas mix instead of only CO2 since using part Nitrogen might not alter the beer. Could you please guide me on what to focus on or which aspects should i be considering? Thanks in advance!

    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 4:32pm

      Hi Martin,

      You’re on the right track. Overcarbonating the beer would be a problem. With a variety of different lenghts of line as the plan, I would definitely refer you to 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 your questions. Cheers!

  • Drew kent September 6, 2018 @ 3:33pm

    I have a 16 tap system with 2 nitro lines. I’m going through a ton of nitro. wondering if because of my nitro lines, my other taps are taking in more of the nitro then they should. I’m struggling to balance the lines and not burn through my nitro

    • Chris September 25, 2018 @ 10:23am

      Hi Drew,

      I have to refer you to 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 your questions. Cheers!

  • Simon July 24, 2019 @ 1:29pm

    Hi.my stout is over carbonated the Guinness is coming out too fast I’m after wasting nearly the whole keg trying different things I feel putting a gun to my head at this stage (if I had one).it worked fine first night but towards the end the head was a little larger.iv read comments here saying set the reg to a certain psi but I’m not sure how it’s a pub standard reg any help would be appreciated or you could see me on the news tomorrow

    • Katie Johnson July 24, 2019 @ 3:45pm

      Hi Simon, sorry to hear you’re having troubles! Our Draft Beer Specialist, Justin, will reach out to you tomorrow. Here’s his info as well if needed. jzalusky@kegworks.com or 716.362.9212 ext.385.

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