Backup your hard drive. Check your tire pressure. Floss after every meal. Clean your draft lines.
You’re doing all of these, right? Well, we can’t help you with your teeth but how about those lines? Think about this:
Your Drink Can Only Get Worse On Its Way To the Tap
Don’t ruin a good thing. Organic matter builds up. Things start to grow. Flavors get funky. Cleaning is not optional.
Now for you TLDR-types, here are the high points:
- Every 2 weeks: Clean your lines, disassemble & clean faucets
- Every 3 months: Acid rinse (pro only – see below)
- Every 6 months: Disassemble & clean couplers
- Every year: Replace your PVC/vinyl lines
If you’re selling product, this is more than just a good advice – it’s good for business. If you have kegs at home, you can dial back your level of anal retentiveness but the goals are the same: consistent, high-quality drinks on tap.
The Right Tools for the Job
For routine cleaning, caustic line cleaners (e.g. BLC, LLC, etc. ) are the way to go. Homebrewers reflexively reach for alkaline cleaners like PBW. This can be used, but is not as effective as caustic cleaners. Also consider that sanitizers such as StarSan are not cleaning agents and are not interchangeable. Remember:
- Only use products intended specifically for draft line cleaning
- Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for dilution, temperature, contact time and rinsing
- Always rinse with water when complete – not with your beverage!
- Be cool to the environment: Don’t dump chemicals outside – put these down the drain
- Be safe: Protect your eyes & skin when using
Should I Drop Acid?
Acid rinse is recommend for pro beer installations to prevent accumulation of beer stone (calcium oxalate + proteins). Over time, beer stone can harbor bacteria and other off-flavor producing contaminants. Caustic cleaners won’t remove beer stone – hence the need acid to dissolve it. Don’t mess around: acid is hazardous, so do your homework and use appropriately.
If you’re in the business of selling beer, go by-the-book and acid rinse as recommend.
That said, here are some reasons to not trip out on acid:
- You don’t serve beer. Beer stone (as the name implies) is not a concern for wine, cider, coffee, Kombucha, chunky milk, etc.
- You’re a home user. Acid is not for amateurs: it is corrosive, dangerous and requires hazmat shipping. If you’re facing beer stone issues at home, consider more user-friendly alternatives (e.g. 5-Star Beer Stone Remover).
What About Keg Monitors?
Any surface that comes in contact with your drink needs regular cleaning – and that includes keg monitors. Fortunately Kegtron was designed to be cleaned just like you clean your lines. Since it is installed inline between your keg coupler and tap, you can implement a clean-in-place (CIP) routine. Easy.
A few Kegtron-specific tips:
- Unplug the power during cleaning if you don’t want to throw off your stats. You won’t lose any data.
- Unplug at the USB end of the cable to prevent wear & tear at the rubber grommet
- Always ensure cleaning liquid flows in the proper direction to ensure the internal flow sensors are cleaned. Reverse flow, or back-flushing, is not recommended
Remember: Keep the funk in your playlists, not in your draft lines!