The increase in popularity of craft beers in recent years has resulted in draft beers accounting for a larger portion of sales for many bars. In addition to their popularity, there are several good reasons why serving draft beer is beneficial to your bar:
- Draft beer typically has a liquor cost that is 4-8% lower than bottled beer – For every dollar in sales, you’re making more money when you sell draft beer compared to bottled beer.
- It’s an experience that is unique to bars – Most people can’t drink draft beer at home (unless they have a kegerator in their house), so this becomes something special that people typically appreciate about drinking beer in a bar.
- Draft beer increases your ticket average – The average portion size is a 16 oz. glass with a 14.5 oz. pour. This increases the cost per beer (compared to a 12 oz. bottle).
In order to keep these draft beers tasting great, it’s important to clean the lines regularly. This will stop the growth of bacteria in your beer lines that are responsible for making the beer taste funky or skunked.
While this crucial task is important to maintaining sanitary conditions and improving the beer-drinking experience for your customers, cleaning your draft lines also results in an unwanted issue – it wastes a lot of beer. Cleaning your beer lines is a bit of a process:
- Drain all the beer currently flowing through the lines
- Flush fluid down each line to kill any bacteria that is growing
- Rinse the lines out with water to make sure all fluid residue is gone before beer is served again
In addition to the beer lost when you flush the lines, you typically waste a little more when you restart the system due to the amount of beer that needs to get pushed through the line before it will pour properly. This is one of the reasons why you typically experience more natural waste with draft beer products than with other items served at your bar.
How Much Money Is Lost from Cleaning Draft Beer Lines?
The cost of this wasted beer can add up over time. Consider the following estimates:
- The average diameter of a beer line is .75 oz. per foot
- The average run length for draft beer lines from the walk-in cooler to the taps is about 50 feet
- This means you’re wasting approximately 37.5 oz. of beer per line clean (we got this figure by multiplying the run length by the line diameter)
In actuality, this figure is probably a bit low because it doesn’t factor in the additional beer that is wasted when you restart the system. Keep in mind that this figure refers to the amount of beer wasted per cleaning in each line. If you have 10-20 taps (or significantly more than this number in some bars that specialize in craft beers), the amount of beer wasted every time you clean the lines will be exponentially larger.
To see how this wasted beer impacts your bottom line, let’s consider these cost estimates:
- Average cost of a half barrel keg is $115 (this number varies based on your product mix – serving lots of domestic beers can bring down this average, but the average cost will be significantly higher if you primarily serve craft beers)
- There are 1984 oz. of beer in a half barrel keg, so the cost of beer is 5.8 cents per ounce (based on an average keg cost of $115)
- This equates to $2.17 of wasted beer per line clean (5.8 cents per ounce x 37.5 oz. of wasted beer per line)
- If you’re cleaning your lines every 2 weeks, this equates to $39.15 of wasted beer per year for each line on your draft system
As we stated above, if you have a lot of draft beer lines, this will add up quickly:
- The cost of wasted beer per year with a 10-line system would be $391.50
- The cost of wasted beer per year with a 20-line system would be $783
- The cost of wasted beer per year with a 30-line system would be $1,174.50
BIOQTECH’s BLM Technology Reduces the Frequency of Your Line Cleanings
BIOQTECH is a company that can help you minimize your draft beer waste. Their product utilizes BLM (beer line maintenance) technology to reduce the frequency of your line cleanings. This is accomplished by shooting sound wave impulses into your draft beer lines. These sound waves inhibit the growth of beer spoilage bacteria and mold on your draft lines. Inhibiting the growth of bacteria also prevents the development of biofilm in your tap lines, which can cause your beer to taste skunked.
The growth of this bacteria and biofilm is what causes the need for line cleaning. By using this product, you can reduce the frequency of your line cleanings, which will ultimately reduce the amount of draft beer waste you experience due to the cleaning process. This BLM technology allows you to clean your beer lines every 8 weeks instead of every 2 weeks. Since you’re eliminating 3 out of every 4 line cleanings you’re currently doing, this technology can help you cut your draft beer waste by 75%.
These benefits are even greater for bars that have long draft beer lines and split lines. The numbers discussed earlier regarding the cost of draft beer waste are based on beer lines that are approximately 50 feet. If your lines are significantly longer or you use split lines, you’re most likely losing more money per line every time you clean your draft system. Therefore, the savings you’ll experience by reducing the frequency of your cleanings can be significantly greater than these estimates.
In addition to the money you’ll save by reducing the frequency of your line cleanings and minimizing the associated draft beer waste, the reduction in bacteria and biofilm will help your beer taste fresher, providing a better experience for your customers.
The BIOQTECH system requires power to run, but there is no other regular maintenance cost. Once you install the system, it runs in the background 24 hours a day. The electricity used to run this system is approximately 1 watt per line, which will be a minimal addition to your monthly overhead expenses. Keep in mind that while your line cleanings are being done every other month instead of every other week, you still need to clean the couplings and other parts of your draft beer system once a month. However, this process doesn’t involve draining the lines, so you won’t waste any beer.
BLM Technology Offers the Opportunity of Significant Long-Term Savings
The installation cost of the BIOQTECH product is $60 per line. After this, there are no ongoing monthly fees. As a result, it will take approximately one and a half years to break even based on the $40/year cost of draft beer waste when you have 50-foot lines. After that, you are saving money by minimizing the waste associated with your line cleanings.
If you carry expensive craft beers, it will reduce the time period it takes to break even with this service since you’re losing more money per line clean. Using longer lines or split lines will also reduce this break-even period.
At Bar-i, we strongly recommend this technology for our bar owners. We currently have two clients that are in the process of installing this system in their restaurants, and we should be able to provide you with more hands-on data regarding the effectiveness of this technology within the next few months.
If you’d like to learn more about how Bar-i can help you streamline your operations and maximize your profitability, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We serve bars and restaurants nationwide from our offices in Denver, CO.