What are some common problems with draft beer systems?
Problems with the draft beer system could lead to poor quality beer, dissatisfied customers, and lower sales. It’s very important for every staff member to learn to troubleshoot the following problems that could be affecting your system:
No beer is coming out.
It could be as simple as checking to see if the keg is empty! If the keg is empty, there will be a rush of gas coming from the faucet. If the keg is not empty, it could be that the coupler isn’t sitting on the keg correctly, the carbon dioxide tank might be disconnected or is empty, the toggle valves are in the closed position, or the line is completely frozen.
The beer is flat.
If the beer is flat, you need to start by checking the regulator gauge to make sure it’s on the proper setting. If you are noticing the head on a beer forms quickly but disappears, this could be a result of a dirty glass and not the result of a problematic draft beer system. Dirt, oils, greasy food, and lipstick are all factors that can make a glass dirty and ruin beer foam.
Not only that, but improper pouring technique could also be the cause of flat beer. The proper way to pour a beer is to hold the glass at roughly a 45-degree angle from the beer tap. The goal is to aim the flow of the beer at the side of the glass, then turning the glass to a straight up position once the beer has filled about halfway up. To finish, it is important to aim the flow of the beer towards the center of the glass and doing it all in one smooth motion.
The beer is foamy and over-carbonated.
There are a number of factors to consider when solving the foamy beer mystery. For example, if the CO2 pressure is set just slightly too high, it causes your beer glasses to be half filled with wasteful foam—it is extremely important to adjust the regulator to correct the pressure. On the other hand, if the CO2 pressure is set correctly, it could be the result of a dirty or broken faucet, improper keg storage temperatures, or the keg could simply be empty.
Other important notes to keep in mind if your beer is pouring too foamy:
- Has the keg had enough time to settle?
- Is the tap all the way open?
- Is the coolant cold enough?
The beer “burps”.
If the beer burps, it could be because of a warm spot, kink, pinhole, soil deposit, or bad seal between the keg and faucet. To fix this, you would simply clean the lines, check the insulation, and and check all of the seals.
The beer tastes unusual.
Sometimes the beer can taste unusual after a cleaning, so the first thing that needs to be checked is if the beer lines have been cleaned recently. More importantly, check to see if air is being introduced to the beer somewhere along the line, and check the cleanliness of the glass.
The beer is darker than usual or cloudy.
Dark or cloudy beer can be the result of an old or warm keg. You’ll need to clean the lines and check the expiration date on the keg. See if the keg is getting warmer than about 45° F in storage.
There are black flakes or slimy chunks in the beer.
Address this issue by cleaning the lines and faucets. A simple line cleaning will often loosen deposits that later end up in beer poured at the tap.
The first few pours have a lot of foam.
This is caused by inconsistent pressure and temperature. You’ll need to improve temperature control in the cooler area.
The final third of a keg is foamy.
Inconsistent pressure and improper temperatures cause the last third of kegs to be foamy. Check the lines and limit traffic to the cooler area.
If you are having any issues with foamy beer, flat taste, or dirty lines, please submit an Online Service Request so that we can help you figure out what the issue is!
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