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August 17, 2020

The Beer Pump… Ultimate Beginners Guide And Tutorial

 In this post I’m going to talk about using a beer pump and how to dispense draft beer on commercial systems with one. I’ll cover all the main points how to use it, how to operate it, how to maintain it and clean it.

After this post you’ll see why beer pumps play such a pivotal role in dispensing draft beer over long distances. Also, the advantages of using them over blended gas.

 Here we go!!

What is a Flojet Beer Pump?

A beer pump is a device we use to pump draft beer long distances from a beer cooler without compromising the integrity of draft beer. Pumps are also used with brite tanks, and casks to dispense beer when added pressure is needed.

Typically, there are a few ways to push beer in a draft system. Either mixed gas, or Co2. Using Co2 we can activate beer pumps. I've heard you can use Nitrogen with them, but I I’ve never done that. I prefer beer pumps on longer remote systems over 200+ feet, and using blended gases on smaller runs.

So here's a picture of a Flojet Beer Pump Below:

picture of a Flojet Beer Pump

Flojet Beer Pump

Now beer lengths, or beer runs less than 40 feet can use pure C02 on their systems pushing beer. But I would default to a mixed gas of 70 percent C02-30 Percent Nitrogen. On all runs under 40 feet. Simply because we can get great pour with a blended gas, and add pressure without over carbonating a beer.

In the event of a long beer run. Either a beer pump or mixed gas needs to be used.

Mixed gas can be used 70 percent C02 and 30 percent Nitro would work. These  pre-mixed cylinders are sourced from your local gas distributor. Gas blenders could also be another option, instead of pre-mixed cylinders. 

Overall, the beer pump helps pour beer long distances on remote systems up to 800’ without having to use mixed gas. If your beer needs to travel up multiple floors. This is where beer pumps excel. 

How Does a Beer Pump Work?

The pump setup requires two operational regulator pressures. CO2 pressure on the keg to maintain beer carbonation ( 12-14 psi), and separate gas pressure to the beer pump ( 20+) to propel the beer to the faucet. 

The pump receives  pressure from either C02 or dry compressed air. Regulated by a secondary regulator. The operating pressure of the pump is 10 psi up to 90 psi. The pump has 2 ports, a receiving port. Which connects to the beer coupler. The other outlet supplies the beer system with beer and that fitting is usually connected to a FOB, and then to the beer trunk line.

 F.O.B

FOBs stop the flow of beer through a line once the keg empties. This reduces the beer loss associated with changing a keg and reduces operating costs.

Picture of a FOB

Beer FOB used to keep beer lines full after a keg blows.

 Available in different designs, most feature a float in a sealed bowl that drops when beer flow from the keg stops. The FOB allows the beer lines to stay packed. This makes for less product loss and generates savings for the account.

Venting The Pumps

Now if C02 powers the beer pump there’s a hose fitting on the front side of the beer pump. It’s a ¼” I.D. this is the pump vent and it needs to be vented outside of the the beer cooler.

Picture of a safety hazard using C02

 When the pump operates, in exhales C02. The pumps needs to vent outside the beer cooler. If compressed air powers the pump, no need to vent the pumps.

What Gas is Used to Pump Beer?

 2 types of gas are used to fire up the beer pump. It's c02 and compressed air. Like I mentioned earlier I've heard of Nitrogen, but haven't used it personally.

 I’ll use c02 70 percent of the time because the properties I’m working on usually house bulk C02 on property. Here's a post for the right C02 cylinder sizes if you are using cylinders.

 Compressed air is also an option. Just make sure you use oil-less compressors with the beer pumps, and make sure the compressors are vented from time to time. They accumulate moisture in their tanks and if they aren't vented. The pumps will be compromised due to moisture.

How to Clean a Pump?

You clean the beer pump the same way you would clean beer systems. You will also need a Flojet Reversal valve to clean the beer pump properly. With the Flojet reversal valve inserted into the pump you can recirculate chemicals the proper way.

  • First, step would be to flush out all the beer in that line with water. Then add your cleaning solutions. Caustic cleaning solution every 2 weeks and Acid cleaning solution every 4 weeks.

Since the pump would likely be part of a remote beer system. A re-circulating pump would work. Cleaning the beer system and beer pump. Circulating cleaning solution for at least 15-20 minutes.

  • Next, rinse the solution out of the lines until the ph paper tests between 7-8. This will tell you that the lines are ready to tap beer, and free of cleaning solution.

The reversal valve hooks into the bottom of the pump. It helps with beer cleaning by changing the the flow while the system re-circulates. The re-circulation method is by far the best cleaning method to date for beer systems.

Flojet Reversal Valve

This Reversal Valve helps change flow direction, and helps clean lines.

Flojet Beer Pump Troubleshooting

The beer pumps are pretty straight forward after you hook it up. The pump will regulate itself automatically. However, there are times when the pump fails or isn’t working correctly.

If gas is powering the pump and the keg runs out of beer. The pump continues to pump without beer in it you can damage diaphragm itself. This only happens if the beer pump isn’t connected to a FOB inside the cooler room.

A direct connection to a beer trunkline and an empty keg will continue the pump to operate until its broken.

IF the ⅜ hose fittings crack for whatever reason they can be replaced.

Sometimes the O-rings need to be replaced because they can be cracked.

Brass fittings, where the gas enters the pump will need to be replaced sometimes because they get damaged.

Outside that they’re very reliable and should you encounter some problems what I mentioned above are usually the culprits.

Summary

In closing the beer pump is a great tool to use when dispensing beer over long distances. It’s better than using mixed gas because there’s no nitrogen in contact with beer.

Using a beer pump also allows you to dial in the right pressure to get the right flow needed, maximizing keg yield.

The pump can also be used on casks and brite tanks.

Maintenance is minimal and once the pump is set up and primed you shouldn’t have to worry about it.



picture of a Flojet Beer Pump

Flojet Beer Pump

If something needs replacement, check the hose fittings, gaskets and brass fittings. If using C02 to power the pump make sure to vent the pumps outside the beer cooler.

If you’d like to order a beer pump click the link, and if you would like some more information about draft beer dispensing please check out our 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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  1. Hi Kyle,
    We currently use FOBs in our beer cellar. As you point out, these devices stop the flow of beer once the keg is empty. Unfortunately, because we often change over to different beers using the same beer lines, the FOB system is not ideal due to the residual beer left in the beer line after the keg empties. This results in either a) the beer contained in the line to be pulled through by the bartender and poured to waste; or b) the first few glasses of the next beer on contain beer from the previous keg (the bar server forgets to pull through which more commonly happens during very busy periods). We are therefore looking for a system that will avoid this wastage and/or 'contaminating' a new beer with the previous beer.

    So, the questions are: 1) If we remove the FOBs from our lines, will this resolve our problem or will the downside of doing so not be worthwhile?

    2) Will the Flojet Beer Pump enable all the beer of a keg – including what is in the beer line – to be served, leaving a completely empty line for the next-on (new) keg?

    3) If either of the above are not recommended and you know of another system or procedure that will resolve our problem, please let me know.

    Many thanks,

  2. Dave, How long is your beer run from your beer cooler to where it’s dispensed?

  3. In regards to your questions: 1) I wouldn’t pull the FOBS because if you blow a keg and don’t have FOBs set up you’ll fill your trunkline with foam. FOB’s keep the main line full of beer. 2) No the Pump will shut off when the FOB closes due to the keg emptying. Once bubbles or the emptying of the keg is near the floats will shut off…therefore foam doesn’t get into your main trunk line. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to keep beer from merging with another one in the same line when you change kegs. Call it waste which it is, but I would recommend your bartenders bleed out the lines until your new beer is ready to serve.

    When you clean your beer lines every 2 weeks. There is that loss of beer in the lines, but cleaning your beer lines is worth it. Because it keeps your beer tasting fresh for your customers.

    Hope this helps Dave…Cheers!

  4. I've been a bar manager dealing with 20 taps with 3 bars using these same pumps. We do very high volume. One of our runs is several hundred feet. After months of hair pulling with excessive foam I found that line pressure is extremely sensitive. A variation of just a few psi causes domestic beer to run flat, or a few pounds high causes craft and IPAs to turn into shampoo. Regulators require constant daily babysitting to keep them on target. Its a PITA. Is this normal for pumped draft?

  5. They shouldn’t need to be adjusted all the time. Here are some things to check…

    Applied pressure on your kegs 12-14 PSI with a cooler temp of 38 degrees. What do you have them set at?? Verify Cooler temp with glass of water in cooler for 24 hrs.

    Sometimes domestic need to be isolated from craft beers ie Coors and Dogfish these beers are carbed differently and require a different applied pressure

    What’s your beer temp out of the faucet? This will tell us a good amount of information.

    Feel free to give me a call to Walter 541-639-6838

    Are you getting your beer lines cleaned routinely and are they getting done correctly?

    Have you looked over your glycol chiller temperature? Is the thermometer reading correctly?

    These are a few things I would check Walter.

  6. We have a small micro pub in the garden, all going well until a few weeks back when lager just became all froth, my husband has changed lines, flow controller , tried a different pump all to no avail, have you any suggestions? Been a great pint for 18 months with no problems ..thankyou

  7. hi, we have Just reopened after a long closure. Everything seemed to be working fine but now the beer pump is constantly clicking. Have checked everything, gas, beer, connections etc and all seems good but it seems to be pulling gas even when not dispensing and causing the clicking noise. Any ideas?

  8. Hey Thea,
    You might want to check your thomas valve. Where the gas supply enters into the beer coupler. Sometimes they are torn, or not working properly. Check this first. Next I would check where the gas supply enters into the pump. Sometimes the o-rings can be damaged here too. Make sure it’s nice and smooth and the fitting works right. You can pull this fitting out by pulling the plastic tab toward you in front of the brass fitting on the pump.
    The pump is continuing to pump because there’s a broken seal somewhere between the keg coupler and the pump. Hope this helps

  9. I have gas pumps on a 5 ft draw that were here when I took over. The beer is foaming, what should the gas pump be set at and what should the CO2 be set at

  10. A 5 foot draw shouldn’t need a beer pump. If you are dispensing beer 5′ I would get rid of the pump. Use 4′ of 3/16 I.D. Beer Line and a foot of 3/8″ I.D Line.
    Make sure the cooler is on temp between 36-38 degrees. And use C02 set at about 12 PSI.

  11. check the gasket around the brass fitting that feeds the pump co2. Should be in the front. Sometimes these go bad and cause a slight leak that would lead to the pumps clicking consistently.

    Hope this helps.

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