Draft Beer Coolers
Summer is the perfect time to invest in a draft beer cooler for your bar in order to serve beer on tap. It’s a customer favorite for a variety of reasons; Beer on tap tastes fresher and more flavorful than from a can or bottle, and it’s simply an option that your patrons can not obtain from a simple liquor store! To make the most of your investment, spending the proper effort and time in choosing and maintaining a draft beer cooler is key!
Choosing the Right System
Direct draw draft systems are both simple and easy to use. As one of the most common forms of dispensing systems for restaurants, direct draw systems keep all components of the equipment in one place as opposed to storing kegs in a separate cooler. Here, your keg is kept a few feet from the faucet - usually in a refrigerated unit just underneath - and CO2 is injected in order to push the beer up and through the tap line. In these systems, you only have about 5 feet of tubing to work with, making it efficient and easy to maintain.
These systems work for a multitude of situations but are ideal for bars that would like to store their selection of beer underneath the counter or for portable bars, as kegs don’t need to be in a specialized cooler room. Beverage-Air boasts a variety of direct draw systems that can house anywhere from one to five kegs! Choosing the model for your restaurant will vary on an individual basis, so plan out how many types of beer you foresee serving on tap at any given time as well as the space allotted for the system under your bar in order to choose which model is right for you.
With any system, you’ll want to ensure that the kegs are secured and that your beer is dispensed perfectly every time. Beverage-Air’s systems are equipped with a lock and key mechanism on every model. Entrust the keys to a manager or owner, and regulate and record every transaction of keg that goes in or is taken out of your system.
With direct draw systems (or any tap, for that matter), the key to perfection lies in the injection of CO2. Carbon Dioxide gas is an ingredient in the beer itself, and the injection of too much or too little to push the beer through the tap can leave an overly-gassy or flat result. ‘For lagers, ales and other light beers, manufacturers suggest using pure CO2 at about 20-25 PSI (pounds per square inch). A five pound tank of CO2 can usually serve about six half-barrel kegs, give or take.’
An interesting highlight for Beverage-Air direct draw systems is the faucet tower itself. Cooled air is circulated up from the exhaust fan into the tower where it envelopes the tap lines, helping to maintain the frosty-cool temperature of each and every draw! Each tower has 3 inch insulation as well, ensuring that beer drawn up and into the tower is maintained at the coldest temperature possible.
As with any piece of kitchen equipment, maintenance is key to longevity. Thoroughly clean your system at least twice a month, disconnecting all tubes and removing kegs to reach those hard-to-see spots. Hot, soapy water and a simple scrub brush is all you need to disinfect and clean your gaskets, faucets, and appliances.
The beer lines can become gross and stale, and this uncleanliness can lead to funny-tasting beer. While some representatives of any given beer may come regularly to clean your lines, they also may choose to clean their product’s line more than the others. Always ensure that every line is clean and sanitary, taking care to replace lines as soon as you suspect they’ve reached their lifespan limit.
At the End of the Day…
It all boils down to profit! Purchasing the exact right system and keeping it stocked will make it most efficient; Knowing how much CO2 is needed will ensure that every beer is right; Keeping your system clean will prolong its life! If any of these components fail, you may end up throwing out flat beer or wasting spilled beer due to untrained staff. Conversely, a draft beer cooler can bring enormous profit to your restaurant! Take the time to understand the details -- your bottom line will thank you for it.