Day 153

There are probably few things more important to you the brewer than being able to sell your beer. It’s almost a given that some of the  time, your beer is going to be poured from a draught tap at a bar. But if the tap is spraying foam all over the bartender, you’re not going to sell very much beer. So today in Packaging we looked at the paraphernalia that we’ll have to know about when we go into a bar and hook up our beer keg to their draught system:

  • The various types of adapters used to hook the keg up to the draught lines and CO2 feed. The most popular type of adapter system is “Sankey”, but beware–North America’s Sankey standard is different from the European model. Some brewers use a proprietary adapter, mainly so their kegs can’t be “borrowed” by other brewers. (Apparently keg theft is something of a problem.)
  • There’s the mechanism inside the keg called the “spike”—basically a metal tube that sucks the beer out of the keg.
  • The draught tap. The tap is filled with interesting parts—okay, mainly interesting to a plumber—including a one-way CO2 valve and a small plastic ball that acts as a one-way beer valve. The cheaper models have nickel-plated brass innards. We took one of these apart, and the nickel was completely worn off, leaving pitted corroded brass touching your beer. Ewwww! Don’t go this route. Spend the little bit extra on taps with stainless steel innards. And don’t forget to clean your tap when you visit the bar—we have heard from several different teachers this year that dried beer is one of the world’s best glues. So rather than having to take the tap apart with a hammer, take it apart and clean it inside and out.
  • Gas regulators. You’re going to hook up your keg to the bar’s CO2 or beer gas supply, so you’d better understand what a gas regulator does. That’s the thing on the top of the tank with two pressure gauges. The first gauge measures the pressure of the gas in the tank; the second measures the pressure of the gas in the line leading to your keg.
  • The draught tower. That’s the tall shiny thing on the bar with one or more draught handles attached to it The hose from your keg runs up inside the tower to the tap. The cool thing (literally) is that the tower is insulated so that your beer in the hose inside the tower doesn’t get warm while it’s waiting to be poured. Some of the fancier towers actually have a hose looping though it filled with glycol to keep the inside of the tower frosty cold.

Whew, all this talk of draught beer has me hankering for  a freshly tapped keg!

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