Profitability and Draft Beer Quality

Quality draft beer ranks highest among the factors determining where a customer enjoys the freshest, tastiest drink. If a customer orders a beer and finds it to have an off flavor or smell, they might not complain to the bartender or server. Instead, they will opt to not order a second beer and find somewhere else to drink.

As the operator, you may not know there is a problem somewhere unless you frequently taste the beer yourself. Meanwhile, you will be losing money and customers. The solution is to maintain a regular cleaning frequency for your draft beer lines to ensure your customers are always tasting the highest quality beer possible. But performing regular cleaning in-house can be time-consuming and requires expertise. If you are in Portland, OR, the experts at Northwest Draft Technicians can help you maintain high-yield and low-waste systems and increase your profitability.

Draft beer taps

Common Beer Spoilers

Several things can accumulate inside the beer lines. Leaving it up to fate and avoiding cleaning puts you at risk of serving unpleasant or potentially harmful beer. Below are four common beer spoilers:

Yeast

Although yeast is crucial in beer-making, its traces, either from the air or left over from the beer, can accumulate in the draft lines, clog them, and alter the beer’s taste. Typically, it happens around faucets, keg couplers, drains, or components of the draft beer system that have a lot of contact with air.

Bacteria

Although the bacteria in beer may not pose health hazards, it can lead to foul-smelling or sour-tasting beer.

Mold

Mold can lead to foul-tasting beer and pose a health risk when consumed. It often thrives in the areas of the draft beer dispenser that are constantly in contact with air. This fungus can lead to mold in the beer, spoil the taste, or wreak havoc on the consumer’s digestive system.

Beer Stone

Beer stone, also called calcium oxalate, is a salt deposit from beer, calcium, and oxalic acids when combined at cold temperatures. The deposits build up, take on yeast, mold, and bacteria and eventually end up spoiling the taste and affecting how the beer flows through the draft lines. Beer stone may even come out with the beer into the drinking glass.

Leaving these beer spoilers unattended will inevitably lead to dissatisfied customers and lost sales. Further, customers understand the health risks of consuming poor-quality beer and thus may not return to your bar again.

Bartender pouring draft beer into a glass

Recommended Cleaning Frequency for Draft Beer Lines

Keeping draft lines clean is crucial to assure you are serving customers great draft beer. You should view the costs associated with cleaning as an investment with a high return. The Brewers Association’s Draught Beer Quality Manual recommends cleaning all draft beer systems every two weeks whether the beer line is long, as is the case in an air shaft or glycol system, or short, as found in the direct draw box. The manual is a product of a consensus between large and small brewers, draft beer equipment supplying companies, and technical experts. It defines draft beer equipment, procedures, timing, and chemicals that assure the beer served has the quality the brewer intended.

The Cost and Benefits Associated With Draft Beer Line Cleaning

Let’s break down the expenses related to cleaning each line into two components:

Cleaning a single line typically costs about 0.63% of the total profit from a keg. That means shifting from a monthly cleaning cycle to a two-week cycle will cost you less than two cents per pint.

Let’s say a bar operator has concerns over the cost of the line cleaning and thus chooses to double the recommended time between cleaning, i.e., perform the exercise monthly.

Consequently, beer spoilers thrive in the draft beer machine and lead to a funky taste in all the beers on the tap. In the beginning, light lagers and wheat beers will have a noticeable off flavor, although the more robust ales and stouts will cover up the foul taste for now. But within a short time, the off flavor will be noticeable in all beers on the tap. Below are the four options that bar patrons will take, all of which can cost you profits:

A bar operator is likely to lose more than it would cost to clean the lines properly. Even worse, the draft beer sales and revenue continue to shrink daily if the operator does not deploy an effective line cleaning process. Typically, bar operators may experience a sales decline of between 5% and 8%. But with biweekly cleaning, beer sales may grow by an average of 4% to 7%. In a nutshell, the realized cost of lost sales and customer goodwill exceeds the expense of cleaning the line. Further, maintaining beer quality increases profitability.

Improve Your Draft Beer Quality With Northwest Draft Technicians

With the difference in dollars between the potential decline and increase in sales, bar operators have a clear reason to ensure regular draft line cleaning. Fortunately, you can look into an experienced bar line cleaning service to do that on your behalf. At Northwest Draft Technicians, we commit to helping bars and restaurants throughout Portland, OR, serve beer the way the brewer intended. Contact us today.

Four glasses of draft beer on a tray

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