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Self-Pour Pro Tips: Take the Hassle Out of Draft System and Beer Line Cleaning

Proper line cleaning is essential for any commercial draft beverage system for several reasons but it’s often neglected.

Why? Traditional line cleaning processes have the potential to be costly, tedious, and disruptive to operation.

Unfortunately, failure to clean beer lines and draft system components adequately can lead to significant consequences for your business. Especially if you are operating a self-pour system.

Line cleaning doesn’t need to be a dreaded, bothersome task. To facilitate a regular, thorough cleaning program, we suggest opting for an easier, more convenient, and more efficient solution.

Why clean your lines

Protect the quality and taste of the beer
Yeast, mold, bacteria, and beer stone (calcium oxalate) can grow in the lines and build up over time. When fresh beer is exposed to these culprits as it passes through, the beer’s flavor and aroma are compromised. The result is tainted beer, unhappy customers, and lost sales.

Protect the health and safety of your customers
While it’s not life-threatening, this type of build-up in the lines is unsanitary and the thought of consuming tainted beer is enough to make you queasy. YUCK! Like food service, customers expect freshness and quality. The same care and attention that’s given to food handling should be given to draft beer.

Protect the performance and lifespan of your investment
Draft systems are a big investment—we’re talking thousands of dollars. Insufficient cleaning and maintenance can impact the performance of the system leading to unnecessary added costs for repairs and replacement parts.

The build-up caused by poor cleaning practices is especially detrimental to self-pour draft systems. Self-pour technology relies on a meter that’s placed in the line to measure and track the ounces that are poured. If the lines are not cleaned, the build-up can cause the meter to become jammed up, preventing it from accurately measuring the ounces. Therefore, it is critical that cleaning is done properly and on a proper schedule.

When to clean your lines

Every two weeks
According to the Brewers Association, beer lines should be cleaned with a caustic solution every two weeks at a minimum.

Every brand change
Lines should be cleaned when a keg is being replaced with a new product to completely flush out the beer and any residue from the line.

How to clean your lines

Manual cleaning
The most common process for manually cleaning commercial draft beverage systems is re-circulation cleaning. In this process, a motorized pump is used to circulate cleaning agent throughout the entire system, from one tap to the next.

Cons:

  • Cleaning can be a messy job and you have to have the right equipment. Most establishments rely on an outside service to perform the cleaning and it must be done after hours, out of the sight of customers.
  • Manual cleaning processes use hot water and if you don’t allow time for the beer lines to cool, it can cause foamy pours.
  • There’s no way to verify that the cleaning was done and that it was done properly.
  • For re-circulation, the taps are daisy-chained together and any build-up is picked up and pushed from one line to the next. This can be particularly problematic for a self-pour system—if there’s harmful debris stuck in one line, it can cause damage to the meters in the other lines as it’s forced through.

Automated line cleaning—a better way
What if you could clean beer lines with the push of a button? Thanks to our partners at Glanola, you can. With the Glanola Linemaster X line cleaning system, you can efficiently clean lines, individually or grouped, as often as you need, in a hassle-free and non-intrusive manner (even during operating hours), while conforming to all regulatory requirements.

How it works:

  • Installation: The system is installed in 2-3 hours—all you need is access to power, cold water, inflow and outflow lines, and a coupling system in the cooler.
  • Operation: Remove the Sankey coupler from the keg and hook it up to the system. The beer is flushed from the line with cold water, detergent mixed in a specific dose is pushed through the line, then the line is flushed with water again. The color change detergent will turn green in the presence of contaminants and turn back to purple once cleaned and there’s no need to disassemble any of the equipment.
  • Cost: The equipment is rented for a monthly fee depending on the number of taps (typically between $200-$300/month) and the cost of the detergent is about $15/month

Pros:
In-house
You can perform and oversee the cleaning on your own, so there’s no need to hire outside help.

Quick & easy
Cleaning can be done on-demand, with the push of a button and the entire process takes 8-9 minutes to complete.

Flexible
One line can be cleaned on its own or multiple lines can be cleaned simultaneously.

No disruption
The cleaning process uses cold water so there’s no downtime and cleaning can be done during hours of operation.

Verification
A proprietary color change solution is used to verify that the beer lines are actually clean and free of contaminants.

Cost
On average, operators who switch to an automated solution save on the monthly cost of line cleaning.

“The Glanola line cleaning system is convenient, easy-to-use, and gives me confidence that our lines are actually being cleaned thoroughly. My favorite part of the system is that you can actually watch your lines turn from dirty to exceptionally clean with the color changing rinse process.”

iPourIt is the industry-leader and expert on all things self-pour and with more than 650 systems installed, we’ve learned a thing or two about draft beverage equipment. It’s key to the success of a self-pour system and it’s crucial that it’s installed and maintained properly.→ For more information about installing a self-pour system and the three pieces that are required, contact us.

We are committed to providing solutions to help ensure that iPourIt systems are as effective and as profitable as they can be. Stay tuned for more Self-Pour Pro Tips and get handy pointers and insights to help you succeed with self-pour beverage technology.

Want to learn more about iPourIt self-pour draft technology and the benefits of Glanola’s automated line cleaning solution? Contact us at 949-270-0556 to speak with a self-pour expert. 

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