Optimizing Your Draft Beer System

A draft beer system is a must-have for every bar and many restaurants. What you have on tap brings a crowd, and a well-managed keg can last for two to four months. Being able to serve fresh, frothy beer at the perfect temperature for each brew is essential to patron satisfaction and repeat customers from lunchtime to closing time. 

This also means the better your draft beer system, the more money you can make from each keg and pour. Northwest Draft Technicians is a trusted supplier serving restaurants and bars throughout the Portland, OR, area. As draft system specialists, we’re here to offer an actionable guide on how to optimize your draft beer system for better quality beer and more pours from each keg.

Bartender pouring a draft beer

How to Keep Your Draft Beer System at Optimum Performance

Below are steps you can take to reduce waste and serve great-tasting beer that keeps customers coming back:

Individually Regulate Pressure for Each Draft Line

There is a correct pressure for every brew and beverage you can put on tap. It’s important to know the correct pressure based on the kegs you are using, the size of the tubes, the consistency of the liquid being served, and whether you’d like to inject that liquid with nitrogen, carbonation, or both. You can also adjust the pressure lightly up or down for a faster or slower pour.

This means every beer, wine, or cold brew you put on tap should have a unique pressure setting based on achieving the perfect pour. Take the time to learn your kegs, system, and consistencies. Good draft beer system cleaning and maintenance will ensure your system continues to work at optimum capacity and your carefully measured numbers remain accurate.

Favor Stainless Steel Components

Whenever you have the option, favor stainless steel components over plastic. Stainless steel is less likely to take damage, including nicks and scratches that can impact your delivery system, and it is easier to clean. High-quality draft line installations feature a larger percentage of stainless steel components, which increases both the performance and lifespan of your draft system.

Streamline Your Selection

Most restaurateurs know that if the menu’s too long, either value or quality will suffer. Avoid the risk of waste and overage by keeping the exact right number of beers on the menu. Build yourself a stable list of local favorites and commonly requested brews, a few rotating taps for local brewers, and a wild-card tap. If this significantly shortens your list, consider expanding your drinks menu to include draft wine and cold brew coffee on tap.

Hone Your Pristine Glassware Routine

Make your glassware shine. The best flavor and mouthfeel for draft beer comes when paired with a perfectly clean, cold glass. The beer cascades perfectly, and customers get that crisp, foamy first taste where the mug and the beer keep each other cold.

The cleaner your chilled glassware, the better you can enhance the quality of your draft pours.

Regularly Test and Optimize the Temperature

  • Test a glass of water left in your cooler overnight
  • Test the temperature of fresh-poured beers
  • Keep testing beer temperatures throughout the night
  • Record temps, drafts, and times

Are your draft beers cold enough? Find out by regularly testing the temperature inside your cooler from drinks you pour throughout the night. Too cold, and you risk freezing the beer. Too warm, and foam will build up in the lines.

To test the cooler, leave a glass of water in the cooler overnight, then check the water’s temperature. If the temp is above 38, turn down your cooler.

To test your taps, simply take a regular thermometer reading from each tap as it’s poured, starting with the first glass. Repeat the process every five pours until the temperature stabilizes, then once an hour to determine if the temperature varies. Record which tap, the time, and the temperature with each measurement. 

Know Your Cooling System Options

If your beers are only ‘cold enough’ after several glasses, this means you have beer-cooled lines. in other words, the lines only stay cold when there is constant chilled product running through them. Your other two options are air-cooled lines – where you channel some refrigeration down the line chamber, and glycol-cooled lines, which use a glycol-based coolant.

The most efficient cooling method for draft lines is a glycol line. This uses a mixture of chilled glycol and water cycling through your lines that maintain and distributes cold continuously through the system. Combined with a trunk line, you can tightly enclose your lines alongside the glycol for a much greater cooling efficiency than the standard air-cooled system.

Clean Your Lines Regularly

Lastly, make sure your lines and all the parts are clean at least once a week. Clean lines ensure a fresh clarity of flavor from every brew you have on tap and attention to food safety standards. Cleaning your lines daily should be done with a quick flush of cleaner, water, and sanitizer. However, when it comes time to take apart your draft beer system, clean every part, and put it back together again, you can count on Northwest Draft Technicians.

Optimize Your Draft Beer System With Northwest Draft Technicians

As experts in draft systems, you can bet we’re ready to help you clean, maintain, and optimize the draft beer system in your venue. whether you need to troubleshoot a temperature issue, determine the serving pressure for on-tap brews, or expand into draft coffee and wine, we are here to fulfill your draft system needs. Contact Northwest Draft Technicians any time your draft beer system needs cleaning, maintenance, or optimization – or build a service schedule and we’ll take care of your draft maintenance needs. We serve restaurants and bars throughout the Portland, OR, area.

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