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July 18, 2022

Beer Lines And All You Need To Know About Them

What Are Beer Lines?

A beer line is a tube. Usually, a vinyl hose carries draft beer from the keg to the tap handle in a draft beer dispensing system. Beer lines are typically made of stainless steel, vinyl, XFM, and barrier tubing. The type of beer line you use will depend on the type of draft beer system being used, and which part of the draft beer system the tubing is in.

There are two main types of draft beer systems:

1) Glycol Beer System, or Long Draw Systems

Diagram of remote beer system and parts

2) Air-Cooled/ Direct Draw Systems

Direct Draw beer system Diagram

Glycol Beer System

A long draw system or glycol beer system. Is used to send draft beer that is dispensed at a faucet away from a beer walk-in cooler and served at a bar location. The main difference between a glycol beer system and DirectDraw is a glycol beer system has a glycol chiller cooling the beer in the beer trunk line from the cooler.

There are two types of glycol chillers in remote beer systems there are air cool glycol chillers and there are water-cooled glycol chillers. Air-cooled chillers use the ambient temperature to cool the glycol and are more common in beer systems. A water-cooled glycol chiller actually uses water to cool the glycol and is used in more humid conditions or locations that are tight and not ventilated.

Beer trunklines are durable and have a jacket of glycol (a type of antifreeze) inside of the tubing, which helps to keep the beer inside at a consistent temperature. They are wrapped with insulation to keep the entire beer bundle at temperature with the glycol inside. Helping the beer stay at temperature over great distances on properties.

Direct Draw Beer System

Air-cooled beer lines use vinyl hoses and vinyl tubing. These types of systems can be found on wall mount systems hanging off a beer cooler, or off a kegerator. You can find these types of systems at most taphouses and breweries.

The first order, of direct draw systems, is the cooler temperature. This needs to be set at 38 degrees. Next, is applied pressure from the right type of mixed gas. For most direct draw systems using Co2. 12-14 PSI is recommended on the kegs. However, a blended gas of 70/30 Co2 to Nitrogen is what I would recommend. Then set the applied pressure to 22 PSI Lastly, restriction values in the different-sized beer lines need to match 22 PSI. Remember each sized line has its restriction value here's a table below:


Beer Lines Restriction Values

What Size Are Beer Lines?

Beer lines come in a variety of sizes, but the most common size is 3/8 inch I.D. (inside diameter). This size is commonly used for beer walk-in jumper lines. These attach to the keg coupler adjacent to the red gas line on the coupler. These lines are my choice for jumpers and are fast to install. Not to be overlooked, 3/8" I.D jumper lines need to be replaced every 12- 18 months according to the Brewers Association.

Next are sizes 1/4" I. D and 3/16" I.D. 1/4" will be used once in a while and most technicians will use 3/16" I.D. for kegerators on a direct draw or to give a beer system extra restriction under a beer tower. The added restriction on towers can be helpful for pouring draft beer and balancing the system.

What Are The Benefits of Using a Beer Line?

The main benefit of using beer lines is that it helps to keep your beer at a consistent temperature so the beer pours correctly. This is the job of the beer trunk line. It carries beer from the beer cooler to the beer tower. Additionally, using a glycol-jacketed beer line can help to prevent your beer from foaming excessively. Finally, vinyl beer lines in the cooler help carry the beer from the kegs into the beer system and also help balance the beer system so it pours correctly.

Setting up Beer & Air Lines

Setting up Beer & air lines in the walk-in cooler is relatively easy. First what you wanna do is get the right length of airline and beer line from your wall panel in the cooler.

This is really gonna depend on how your beer walk-in cooler is set up how many kegs you have, and your cooler walk space but typically those beer jumper lines and airlines should be anywhere from 6 feet to 8 feet.

Once you have the right length of line. Connect the beer lines to the keg coupler if you're using a 3/8 i.d jumper vinyl hose we're gonna be using in 17 Oetiker clamps for the coupler tailpiece and on the airline, the side will be using a 15.7 or 16.2 oetiker for the airline. Use an oetiker plier to crimp the oetiker clamps on the hose and respective tail pieces.

How Often To Clean Beer Lines

Beerline should be cleaned every two weeks according to the Brewers Association. Doing this consistently will maintain the draft beer system and maximize keg yield for owners. More importantly, this will also keep the taste of the beer in peak condition for consumers to consume.

The best way to clean beer lines is to use a line cleaning solution. Line cleaning solutions are designed to remove build-up from beer lines without damaging the tubing. To use a line cleaning solution, simply mix the solution according to the manufacturer's instructions and run it through the line for the recommended amount of time. Usually, 15 minutes while using a recirculating pump. For a static clean with no pump, we recommend 20 mins. After the line has been cleaned, flush it with water to remove any residual solution. Cleaning beer lines is important to ensure that your beer tastes its best at the faucet.

Over time, beer lines can become clogged with yeast and bacteria, which can cause off-flavors in your beer if they aren't cleaned regularly. By regularly cleaning your beer lines, you can help to prevent these problems and keep your beer tasting great.

Picture of dirty beer lines vs clean ones


What To Clean Beer Lines With

There are two types of chemicals to use when cleaning beer lines one is an alkaline or caustic cleaning solution. The second is an acid-clean solution. Use the caustic clean solution every two weeks for beer systems according to the brewers association. While using an acid clean once a quarter to clean beer stone from beer systems.

Micromatic's cleaning solutions are what I'd recommend to clean your beer lines. They have both the alkaline and acid clean the alkaline is in a blue color while the acid is in a red color. Each of these cleaning solutions have dye in them so you can see when the solution is actually in the system so you can start your timing with 15 minutes with a recirculating pump. And 20 minutes for static clean with no pump.

Acid Beer Line Cleaner

Acid Cleaner used quarterly for beer systems

Caustic Cleaning Solution

Caustic Cleaning Solution

Picture of a re-circulating pump

Recirculating Pump

The static clean is usually used on kegerators where the solution is flushed into the system. Remember that a recirculating clean with a recirculating pump is 80 times more efficient than a static clean this is according to Micromatic. And you can find these cleaning solutions micromatic.com if you're interested in purchasing them.

Summary

In closing, we talked about the importance of beer lined in a draft beer system. The different types of beer lines that can be found in a cooler versus beer trunk lines that are found in between a beer walk-in cooler and the faucet where beer is poured from. Each portion of the beer system has its own particular use of beer lines in a system. I hope you've learned a few more things about beer lines in a draft beer system and why it is so important to understand the importance of this equipment.

If you have any further questions you can always reach me here. And I also encourage you to check out the recommended products page here. In the meantime enjoy the rest of the information that can be found on my blog here cheers.


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About the author

I've been a draft beer technician for over 10 years  building, designing, and installing large commercial beer systems. Through the years I've worked on breweries, tap houses, casinos and stadiums around the country.

I enjoy sharing my passion for draft beer dispensing by talking about it, recommending dispensing equipment I've used in commercial installs, or private settings. 

Cheers!

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