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Thursday, March 19, 2020

What to do if your bar must shut down its tap system for an extended period of time.

Draught Beer Quality Manual 2019

If beer is left stagnant in draught lines for too long, 
the system will be at risk of 
AN IRREVERSIBLE BACTERIAL CONTAMINATION. 

As more and more jurisdictions order closures of meeting places, such as bars, restaurants, and brewery taprooms, as a defense against the spread of the coronavirus, Neil Witte —the [U.S.] Brewers Association Quality/Draught Quality Ambassador— has posted timely instructions on how a taproom/bar should properly care for its draught system if shut down for an extended period of time.
In the event of an extended shutdown of your brewery, it is important to take some steps to make sure your draught system stays healthy and you are not faced with an unexpected expense or quality concerns when starting it back up.

If beer is left stagnant in draught lines for too long, the system will be at risk of AN IRREVERSIBLE BACTERIAL CONTAMINATION [emphasis mine].

Taking the right steps can prevent you from having to deal with dangerous gas leak hazards, costly draught line contamination, or even more expensive draught line replacement.
[U.S.] Brewers Association

Quick tips

  • Disconnect draught lines from kegs/serving tanks.
  • Clean the lines.
  • Disassemble and clean faucets.
  • Do NOT leave lines filled with a chemical solution!
  • Any part/piece of your draught system that comes in contact with beer —that is not cleansed during a line cleaning— should be cleaned and sanitized separately.
Do NOT pack the lines with chlorinated water: they'll be permanently tainted with that fresh-from-the-swimming pool flavor and you'll need to replace them. And as to leaving beer in the lines, don't do it! Experts are predicting a possible shutdown of 8 weeks or more. At that point any beer in the lines, even if it has been kept at 38 °F, will not be tasting its best self. And, far worse than that, to repeat the warning above from the BA: "If beer is left stagnant in draught lines for too long, the system will be at risk of AN IRREVERSIBLE BACTERIAL CONTAMINATION."

Without a doubt, read and follow the entire list of procedures. Direct link to procedures (pdf): here.

Good luck and be safe. And we'll see you on the flip side with many a fresh draught pint.

Cleaning the tap

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