Retailers play a critical role in preserving the great flavor and aroma in beer created by brewers. Great beer in a beer drinker’s glass is no accident, beer must be handled with care at retail. Draught beer systems commonly pour a wide range of brewers’ and suppliers’ beer, so everyone has an interest in keeping great beer great, brewers and wholesalers, retailers and consumers.
Draught Beer Quality for Retailers is intended to help retailers consistently pour great beer and preserve profits through industry accepted best practices. When handled properly from brewery to bar to glass, draught beer delivers what many consider to be the freshest, most flavorful beer available. The job is only just beginning when the keg is tapped and beer begins to flow.
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Keep draught beer cold so it pours easily, profitably and at peak freshness. The number one factor affecting how draught beer pours is temperature. At retail, even a few degrees increase above the ideal maximum of 38°F can create pouring problems, especially excessive foaming.
- Craft Beer Retailer Temperature Cheat Sheet: Keep beer at, or slightly below 38°F throughout the retail process.
- Warm Storage Causes Difficult Pouring: When improperly stored at ambient temperature, kegs of draught beer will warm quickly and become difficult to pour in just a few hours. Kegs that have been warmed can take a day or longer to achieve proper serving temperature.
Keep draught beer lines clean to maintain brewery-fresh flavor. The number one factor affecting draught beer quality is poor line hygiene. Retailers must take an active role in making sure their draught beer lines are cleaned properly and regularly (every 2 weeks), regardless of who performs the cleaning. Poor hygiene and improper cleaning and/or rinsing will result in loss of sales and reflects poorly on the entire industry.
- Economics of Draught Beer Quality: This presentation demonstrates that improving retail quality leads to improved sales and consumer experience. Audio (Please be patient – download may take several minutes),Question and Answer
- The Facts About Draught Line Cleaning: This document outlines the basics and includes a line cleaning schedule. For more in-depth information, see pages 51-59 of the Draught Beer Quality Manual.
- Draught Beer Line Cleaning Log: Use this log to help your staff or chosen service provider document their work.
- “Draft Beer Quality Assurance – Line Cleaning”: In this presentation, Tom Geordt, director of training and new business development for Micro Matic USA, shares step by step instructions for successfully cleaning a draught beer line.
- Draft Cleaning 101 at The Olympic Tavern: Your competition takes their line cleaning seriously and are letting their customers know about their efforts. In this video, the line cleaning process at The Olympic Tavern in Rockford, Ill. is explained.
- Extreme Case of Improper Line Cleaning: Here’s visual evidence that poorly maintained lines will deliver infected beer that tastes very different from what the brewer intended, and from what the consumer expects.
Dispensing Draught Beer
The right gas at the right pressure is critical for pouring great draught beer.
- The Facts About Draught Beer Carbonation: Your installer can help you determine the perfect blend for your draught beer system. If you must use a default blend, 70% CO2 / 30% N2 is usually a better choice than 60%/40%.
- The Facts About Compressed Air: Never use compressed air to dispense draught beer. Air damages draught beer flavor, causing it to spoil and resulting in lost sales. Pushing beer with air is like stepping over $5 to pick up a penny.
- The Facts About 25/75 Gas: High nitrogen blended gas (G-Mix), usually 25% CO2 / 75% N2 (GMix), is only intended for nitro beers. Regular beers will quickly go flat when dispensed with G-Mix. Don’t use G-Mix to dispense regularly carbonated beer brands.
- Calculators for Draught Beer Dispense: Four downloadable calculators for determining the exact blend for any draught beer system, and a mobile app from McDantim Gas Blending Technologies.
- Food Grade Gas Supplies: CO2 and N2 are available in high purity grades. Provide these ISBT guidelines for beverage grade carbon dioxide specs to your gas supplier to ensure your beer is dispensed correctly.
Your choice of glassware and how it’s handled makes a huge difference in beer sales.
- Draught Beer Basics: Four Keys to Excellent Beer Service: Cold beer, dispensed through clean lines, into beer-clean glassware, properly poured by knowledgeable staff is essential to success.
- The Right Beer Glass: A CraftBeer.com resource dedicated to helping you find the right glass to serve your draught beer.
- “Frosted Glassware Is Not Cool: Temperature Tips for Craft Beer Retailers”: This CraftBeer.com article discusses the importance of temperature to the draught beer system and how frosty glasses kill beer flavor and cause foaming.
Features of a Great Draught Beer Bar
- “Stainless steel vs. brass faucets: A study”: Invest in high quality components such as barrier tubing (never use poly or vinyl in long-draw bundles), and stainless steel parts instead of brass.
- Glassware Management: Invest in separate glass washing sinks. Avoid washing beer glassware in the same dishwasher as food dishes. For more in-depth information, see pages 46-48 of the Draught Beer Quality Manual.
- Trained, Passionate Staff: Knowledgeable staff who love and understand beer will sell more product, as they are able to match customer wants with the great beers on tap.
- Cold Storage: Invest in sufficient cold storage space for all draught and packaged beer to maintain its peak freshness and optimum pouring.
- The Facts About Growlers: Fill growlers safely, keep growlers clean, cold and dark, and enjoy promptly and responsibly.
Draught Beer System Maintenance
Proper maintenance of your draught beer systems is essential to maximize consumer enjoyment and profits. Planned maintenance is significantly less expensive than a chiller system outage on a busy Friday night. Proper line cleaning every two weeks is important, but, so is periodic maintenance of other draught system components such as cold air blowers, glycol chillers, jumpers, gaskets, etc. Be sure your draught system installer follows manufacturers recommended maintenance intervals and procedures.
- Glycol Chiller Maintenance: This chart will help your service provider develop a maintenance schedule and avoid outages.
- Glycol Concentrations: Glycol will absorb water and become diluted over time. This chart to will help your service provider quickly determine working glycol concentrations and keep your power packs working at peak efficiency.
Beer Knowledge for Servers, Bartenders, Bar Owners
- CraftBeer.com: Website aimed to energize and engage craft beer enthusiasts and arm them with the resources to be active and educated appreciators of the ever-expanding craft beer movement.
- Beer 101: This one hour basic beer knowledge course from CraftBeer.com is $15 and comes with a certificate of completion.
- Cicerone® Certification Program: Basic, intermediate and advanced-level beer training for servers.
- Doemens Beer Sommelier: In-depth two week training course for beer servers and experts.
- Master Brewers Association of the America’s Associate Beer Steward Certificate: Online and on-site courses available.
- Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines: Download in-depth descriptions of beer styles from around the world.
Beer and Food Pairing
- Brewers Association Store: Purchase cookbooks, food and beer pairing educational resources and beer guides for your servers and staff.
- CraftBeer.com: Visit the Beer and Food section of CraftBeer.com for recipes that include beer, features and pairing tips and suggestions.