Beer that is too foamy, flat, warm, or funky-tasting is generally caused by a problem with one of two factors:
- - Beer temperature
- - Pressure of your compressed gas system
By accurately measuring your beer temperature and the pressure of your compressed gas system, you will be 95% of the way to serving consistently good quality beer to your customers and reducing the amount of beer wasted. Taking these simple steps will help ensure you are achieving optimal performance out of your draft beer system.
Measuring your Beer Temperature
It is important to measure the temperature of your beer in two different places:
- - In your keg storage location
- - Right as it comes out of the tap
For the first measurement, take the temperature of a glass of water which has been placed in your keg storage room overnight. This will provide you with a liquid temperature in your beer cooler, telling you whether the room is sufficiently cold to store your beer. For the second measurement, simply take the temperature of a glass of beer right after it comes out of the tap.
Ideally, both temperatures will be the same – between 36-38 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important that your draft beer remain at this temperature all the way from storage to the point of dispensation. Temperatures that are just half a degree warmer than 38 degrees result in beer that is foamy and flat beer.
In a less-than-optimal situation, one of these temperature readings may be warmer than 38 degrees. If the temperature in your storage room is too warm, it is an easy fix. Simply adjust the room temperature to make sure your kegs stay between 36-38 degrees.
If the temperature of the beer as it comes out of the tap is too warm, it is evidence that you have a beer-cooled system. This means that the tubes transporting your beer from the keg to the tap are not being cooled properly. In this scenario, it may take upwards of 10 beer pours until you achieve your ideal temperature, and the only way to get consistently cold beer is to keep pouring them on a regular basis.
There are two types of systems commonly used to cool draft beer dispensing towers:
- Air-cooled dispensing systems – Beer temperature is maintained by having an open space in the tower that circulates cold air from the refrigerated storage room throughout the tower and beer hoses
- Glycol-cooled dispensing systems – Beer temperature is maintained by circulating a mixture of chilled water and glycol solution throughout the beer hoses from the refrigerated storage room all the way to the tap
Glycol-cooled dispensing systems are significantly more effective than air-cooled dispensing systems. If you are currently using an air-cooled dispensing system and you find that the temperature of your beer is not consistently in the 36-38 degree range when it is poured from the tap, we highly recommend switching to a glycol-cooled system. It will vastly improve the performance of your draft beer system.
Measuring the Pressure of your Compressed Gas System
In order to pour consistently good quality draft beer, you also must have a reliable gas regulator. Gas regulators are used to maintain the proper pressure for the dispensing of your beer from keg to faucet.
There are two types of gas regulators commonly used with draft beer systems:
- - Premixed gas system (delivers a fixed blend of CO2 and Nitrogen)
- - Blended gas system (blends pure CO2 and Nitrogen to the desired mix)
In either case you will need to adjust the pressure gauge to make sure you receive the proper pressure based on the specifications of your draft beer system. Factors which impact the pressure necessary for your system include:
- - The type of beer you are serving
- - The diameter of the delivery tubes
- - The distance between the kegs and the taps
Unlike temperature, which you can ‘set and forget’, dialing in the ideal pressure for a specific draft beer system typically requires a little trial and improvement. The important thing here is to regularly check the system pressure and take a little time to get to know what works for your specific system.
How Bar-I Can Help
As part of our services, we will make sure your draft beer system is performing properly by accurately measuring the yield you achieve on each different draft line. This provides a useful flag anytime you are experiencing issues and enables you to address temperature and pressure issues before they affect your customers and profits.
While performing a regular two week liquor inventory audit for one of our clients, we discovered that the bar’s draft beer system was significantly underperforming. Under ideal conditions, a bar should only waste between 2-5% of beer in a keg. Due to the poor draft beer system used at this bar, they were wasting nearly 25% of the beer in each keg. Needless to say, this resulted in a serious reduction in profitability of their draft beer products.
Bar-I conducted the tests discussed above to determine whether the poor performance of draft beer products was due to problems with their system or to bartenders giving away beers. We found out that they had problems with both the temperature and pressure of their draft beer system.
We worked with Draught Prophets, who provide quality draft systems for bars, in order to overhaul our client’s draft beer system. We upgraded their air-cooled dispensing system to a glycol-cooled tower in order to keep their beer cooled to the proper temperature. We also had secondary regulators installed so they can adjust their gas pressure separately for each line. As a result, there has been a significant reduction in the amount of beer wasted per keg, and the bar has seen a substantial improvement in the quality and profitability of their draft beer.
Please contact Bar-I today to find out how we can help improve the efficiency and profitability of your bar.