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December 10, 2022

How to Fix Foamy Beer Taps In Your Bar

Do you have foaming beer taps? Or foamy beer problems? If so, then you know how frustrating it can be when glasses of beer are ruined by too much foam. Your customers won't thank you for the mess and you'll be out of pocket in terms of wasted product. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be like this - with just a few simple steps and adjustments, your problem can be quickly fixed and leave everyone happy! In this article, we'll explain why beer is prone to excess foaming and advise on how to prevent – or fix – bubbly beers for good. Read on to pour beer right.

What Causes Foam in Beer and How to Prevent It

Foam in beer is caused by the presence of proteins, which help trap the carbon dioxide bubbles released during fermentation. This phenomenon can be prevented by controlling factors such as temperature, quality and purity of ingredients, cleanliness of equipment, and correct dispensing techniques.

Higher temperatures cause higher foam formation while lower temperatures reduce it. In addition, contaminated equipment can generate more foam due to the adherence of proteins to them. This is why cleaning your draft beer system routinely is important.

How to Fix Foamy Taps Common Problems

Here's a list of some common foamy beer issues regarding draft beer systems and how you can fix a vast majority of them.

Picture of Snifter Beer Glass

Having a Clean Beer Glass

This may sound like common sense but if beer glasses aren't cleaned properly they cause severe foaming. So having clean beer glasses is very important. All glasses should be cleaned once a day. Avoid petroleum-based detergents because they leave a residue. Instead, use special low-suds-based detergents. Use a 3-tank sink cleaning kit or machine washing for best results. Having a clean glass will form a thick, creamy head and the beer will be clear of bubbles.

Incorrect Temperature

The temperature of the beer is often overlooked when it comes to creating the perfect foam in beverages. Improper temperature can make a huge difference and the right temperature can lead to better quality and flavor. So it's very important to constantly check the refrigeration unit where your beer kegs are stored.

Good temperature regulation keeps the foam light and velvety, while also making sure that it adds a pleasant texture without overpowering the taste of the drink. In addition, controlling temperature helps reduce the amount of foam in keg beer.

So when dispensing draft beer we want the beer to have a liquid temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. We don't want a warm keg. The wrong temperature is catastrophic with beer. Make sure the walk-in cooler is set to this, and a way to check this is to leave a cup of water in the cooler for 24 hrs then temp it. Pro, tip let all kegs sit in the cooler for at least 24 hrs before being dispensed.

Improper Pressure

Carbon dioxide and the right applied pressure is essential when it comes to reducing the amount of foam in beer. Too much co2 pressure from a gas tank and you’ll end up with a foamy mess, whereas too little co2 pressure can cause flat and lifeless drinks. The correct co2 pressure range is dependent on the type of beer being poured and the kind of equipment used for dispensing.

Rule of thumb, for dispensing ales and lagers and using pure Co2. Most beers will use an applied pressure of 12-14 PSI. This is the applied pressure to use on kegs in your walk-in, or for your kegerator.

Now if you are using a blended gas because you've got a remote system. Which requires a glycol bath or glycol chiller and beer trunk line. More than likely you will be using a 70/30 mix of Co2 to Nitrogen. Your target pressure will be 22 PSI up to about 25 PSI. Too little pressure in your system will cause the beer to break and excessive foaming. Gas pressure and gas supply are key. The reason we can't use 22 PSI with pure Co2 is that would be too much pressure on a keg and we would over-carbonate the keg.

Blended Gas Beer Chart Image

Blended Gas Ratios for Beer

Picture of C02 Carbonation Chart

C02 Chart

If you are pouring a nitro beer and using a Nitro Faucet. You'll set your blended gas of 25 percent co2/ 75 percent Nitrogen to 30 PSI. Any less and the pressure is too low to get the cascading effect from the Nitrogen. Remember to use the right applied pressure given the pressure source.

The Right Line Restriction

Line restriction should equal the amount of applied pressure we put on our kegs. For example, if the applied pressure we use is 12-14 PSI. We want our line restriction to equal this value. Same thing for 22 PSI or 30 PSI.

Beer Lines Restriction Values

So how do we measure Line restriction ? By the specific line used on a beer system? Let's say we have a kegerator. 4' of 3/16 I.D. would give us 12 lbs of restriction. If we needed lines to be longer we could use a mix of 1/4" I.D and 3/16" I.D. The same goes for larger beer systems. We want to calculate the restriction value of the entire system and make sure it equals our applied pressure. By doing this we will have a perfect pouring beer system.

These 3 culprits are the most common problems when it comes to pouring foamy, beer foam. When these variables are set correctly beer flows freely.

Tips For Keeping Your Taps in Good Condition and Preventing Future Foam Problems

An important part of keeping your taps in good condition is ensuring they are properly cleaned. Dirty lines are no Bueno. Regular cleaning to remove bacteria, or mineral residue can help prevent future problems with foaming, as well as help to keep your taps looking like new.

Additionally, cleaning your draft lines consistently and properly will pay great dividends and maximize keg yield.

Finally, replacing washers or other worn parts on your beer faucet whenever necessary will ensure that your beer faucet operates at its best for many years to come. There are two places to check the gaskets on a faucet. Make sure to take a look at the gaskets on a keg coupler too. These also wear over time and can be a culprit for foamy lines.

By committing to these simple maintenance tasks for your taps, you can enjoy clean great-tasting beer your customers will enjoy.

Troubleshooting Other Common Tap Issues

Aside from excess foam, other factors can arise with taps.

One such issue is over-carbonated beer. This is when the beer is overly carbonated due to an excessive amount of CO2 in it, which causes the beer to become overly bubbly and fizzy. To fix this problem, you can release the pressure in the keg by pulling on the coupler release valve on the side of the coupler. Hold that out for a few seconds to release the pressure. But before you do that make sure you set the regulator to the appropriate pressure.

Additionally, ensuring that you are dispensing beer at the correct temperature can also help reduce over-carbonation by allowing CO2 to escape more easily.

Additionally, properly cleaning lines and replacing defective parts can also help reduce foaming issues. By being aware of these common tap issues and taking steps to troubleshoot them when they arise, you can keep your taps pouring great.

The Importance of Regular Cleaning and Maintenance for Your Beer Taps

  • Clean your beer lines every 2 weeks with a recirculation pump. This is by far the best way to clean draft beer lines in the beer industry. And keep them pouring great.
  • Take apart all faucets every time you clean and recirculate caustic in your beer system.
  • Scrub the outside of your couplers inside the beer walk-in to get rid of any bacteria or yeast growth.
  • Every quarter use an acid clean to knock down beer stone build-up inside your draft beer system. Take apart all dispensing equipment quarterly as well. This includes FOBs, Beer Pumps, Couplers, etc.
  • Beer vinyl lines should be replaced every 12-18 months according to the Brewers Association. I would highly recommend using XFM tubing instead of vinyl. It will last longer, it's better for beer, and has a life of 10+ years if properly taken care of.
  • Use only Stainless Steel Components in your draft beer system. This includes Faucets, Shanks, and Beer Coupler.

Quick Checklist To Use in Any Bar From MicroMatic

  • Is the keg stored between 36-38° F, and is the same temperature maintained all the way to the point of dispense?
  • Is the CO2 pressure between 12-14 lbs?
  • Have the faucet, beer line, and keg coupler have been cleaned (with chemicals specifically manufactured for beer hose cleaning) on a regular basis?

WILD BEER: Beer, when drawn, is all foam, or too much foam and not enough liquid beer

  • Beer temperature is too warm
  • CO2 pressure is set too high
  • Faucet in bad, dirty, or worn condition
  • Kinks, twists or other obstructions in the beer hose
  • Beer drawn improperly

FLAT BEER: Foamy head disappears quickly; beer lacks brewery fresh flavor

  • Beer temperature is too cold
  • CO2 pressure is set too low
  • Dirty glassware

CLOUDY BEER: Beer in glass appears hazy, not clear

  • Frozen or nearly frozen beer
  • Beer that has been un-refrigerated for long periods of time
  • Old beer
  • Dirty faucet, beer hose, and/or keg coupler
  • Dirty glassware

FALSE HEAD: Large soap-like bubbles, head dissolves very quickly

  • Dry glasses
  • Improper pour

Closing

Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential for keeping your beer taps in good condition and preventing dirty beer lines that cause foaming issues. As well as the right dispensing temperature of 38 degrees, the right applied pressure on the keg, and balancing the entire draft system will help you pour great beer all the time. By being aware of these tips and taking steps to troubleshoot when issues arise, you can keep your taps pouring great-tasting beer for your customers. 

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me here. I've also got some recommended products that are draft technician approved to check out. Lastly, for more information about draft beer dispensing please check out my blog

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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