Serving beer in its prime condition is very important, so here’s a basic guide to doing it right so your beer tastes exactly as it should.
What is the Difference between Kegs and KeyKegs?
The most common form of keg is made from stainless steel. With these, the keg connector forces pressure from the top, forcing the beer out from the bottom of the keg. It’s important to check that your cellar is set-up correctly for serving craft beer, which is usually intended to be served less carbonated than mass-market beers.
With stainless steel kegs, these will have to be collected by the brewery when empty and are not disposable.
The KeyKeg is a one trip keg designed to lock in freshness. They are made up of an outer plastic container with an inner liner (containing the beer). Pressurised air/gas is pushed into the outer and inner layers, pushing the beer out of the keg to the faucet. This means that gas never makes contact with the beer (and the carbonation level is therefore controlled by the brewer, not reliant on the cellar settings).
Keykegs are made from PET plastic, so they’re lightweight and more convenient because they can be immediately crushed and recycled—speak to your local KeyKeg representative for more details.
Also, note that KeyKegs need to settle like a cask container as yeast falls to the bottom of the inner flexible bag.
Draft Systems: The Basics
The basics for serving draft beer are that it should be served using CO2 or CO2 Nitrogen mix.
The most common kind of kegs use a Sankey coupler/fitting to connect them to the draft system.
A coupler allows the gas to flow in while the beer flows out. When you tap a keg, this gas will flow in, filling the empty space inside the keg and pushing down on the beer. The beer then will come out of the connected tube, transporting it from the coupler to the tap , which is where the beer is poured into a glass.
Another important aspect of the draft system is the FOB detector, which stops the beer flowing when a keg is empty and ensures that the beer line doesn’t fill with foam.
The draft system should be kept at around 3.3°C at all times (and kegs could be cooled to this temperature for 24 hours before serving). This is the key to pouring the perfect pint. Temperature is a likely culprit if you’re experiencing issues with foaming beer
Draft systems must be cleaned regularly to avoid nasty surprises like off-flavours in your beer or bacteria in your lines. Your lines should be cleaned at least every 14 days and cleaned properly with line cleaner. Please remember that line cleaners are poisonous so great care should be taken by trained staff.
How to Change a Keg
Here’s a quick reminder of how to change a keg:
- Turn off the gas supply to the keg.
- Disconnect the coupler from the empty beer keg by lifting the handle upwards, then twisting it counter-clockwise for a quarter turn. Lift the connector away from the keg and keep the handle depressed.
- Connect the coupler to the new keg, turn it clockwise (a quarter turn again) and lower the coupler handler. Depress the handle.
- Turn the gas back on.
- Reset the FOB if necessary.
- Draw the product into and through the lines by pouring it from the tap on the bar.