Oh yeah, the lines have been in use for about 2 1/2 years.
Lately we've been second guessing our past cleaning methods for our draft system. we have a 24 tap system that is a 100' long draw set-up with use of beer pumps. we pretty much re-tap beers of similar style after each other, ipa to ipa, hefe to hefe, etc. The majority of beers are sold within a month or two.Some people seem to be tasting off flavors.
What methods and chemicals do you recommend?
Recently we have been directly hooking up hot caustic to the lines (glycol chiller off of course) and letting it soak for at least an hour. Then a 5 Star product Acid Cleaner #5? follows that and soaks. Lastly, peracetic acid is used.
Thanks this is driving us crazy!
Oh yeah, the lines have been in use for about 2 1/2 years.
at the brewpub i worked at for 2.5 years we had a pretty good cleaning system--we invested in a small pump--connected all the taps at the towers with hose and fittings--created a system that allowed the beer to flow through all the taps and lines and back into the bucket which was feeding the pump--pumped it through the system for about 20 min and that was that--clean as a whistle--never had problems with off flavours or bacteria--cleaning needs, heat, movement and some sort of cleaning agent--a lot of people just soak--but the movemnet is a big part of cleaning--hope that helps a little--oh yeah--good luck figuring out which taps to hook up to each other so it actually works --cheers
Caustic, acid sounds good. How often are you cleaning? Are you taking the faucets off the shanks and cleaning them too? I tear them apart every month to make sure they get fully cleaned. Do your "genuis line flavor scientists" truly taste off flavors from the lines or is there something else....dirty glassware, malfunctioning dishwasher, change in keg cleaning routine? Is it across all lines? Just a few? Sometimes all it takes is one line to be off and then a regular customer complain about off flavors and suddenly every "tastes" off flavors! I have seen it happen, but I am sure you have ruled this "error" out.
Acid cleaner #5 is supposedly hard to rinse well, are you following the cleaner with plenty of rinse water?
What works best for us is a cleaner made by Micromatic, their new high-strength caustic, once a month. Then every three months or so we will do an acid wash with Five Star Acid Cleaner #5, followed by lots of rinse water.
I don't see the need for the peracetic acid. I may be wrong, but no commercial line cleaning procedure I have ever seen recommends sanitizing the line after cleaning. The vineager flavors may be permeating the line and lingering in the beer.
One sure way to tell if off flavors are being caused by your lines is to compare the first pint of beer from the line, versus a pint after you have poured out enough beer to be getting beer out of the keg. For 100 feet of line that may be a couple of pitchers worth. If the first pint tastes different than the beer out of the keg, the beer sitting in the lines is being infected and you need a good line cleaning.
we actually clean lines after every keg kicks! Before another is put on.
i am not sure exactly what the "off flavors" that someone is tasting are, but they seem to be the only one tasting them. the taster does know beer and brewing though, thats why we're concerned.
I have had great results with BLC. It cleans well and is easy to rinse. The only thing I have found with it is that if you run soda through a line for a long period of time and want to switch it to a beer line you have trouble getting some of the flavor out(we had that problem with our rootbeer). In which case chlorinated caustic usually works or just replacing the line.
I tried peracetic acid for sanitizing trunk line in a system almost exactly like the one you described. I used Vortexx from Ecolab. The sanitizer definitely will leave a lasting taste if used in higher concentrations. For that reason, I switched to an Iodophor rinse after cleaning. Then we switched to a commercial powdered line cleaner from Micromatic. I kinda backed off the intense program once I was sure I had a handle on contamination and cleanliness. And for sure, don't forget to tear down the faucets every time you clean the line. You'll be amazed at the yeast and other nasties that collect there--even after a "thorough" line cleaning. Good luck!
Iodophor is much more likely to taint the pipes than PAA. I suggest you carry on using PAA if you really want to use a sterilant. I am more concerned by the comment about being on tap for a month. Did I misunderstand this ? Does it really take as long as a month to serve a single container of beer ? If it does, sorry, but I believe you have too many products. It is sitting around in the pipe for hours between each pour / small group of pours, and the slightest infection will grow up in that time, giving you the off flavours.
Don't mix beer types on the same line unless cleaned thoroughly between products, though I get the impression you are cleaning, but just not very frequently. I suggest closer to weekly clean rather than just when a keg runs out. Don't forget with a hundred foot of pipe, you can pull water through and the beer being dispensed is fine until you see it change colour - big cost savings there guys
It's best to push all alkaline cleaning solutions with compresed air or nitrogen. The mixture of Co2 and Naoh makes for a very poor line cleaner. The Naoh is turned into Sodium Carbonate.
As with anything in the brewery, cling to a system that works for you. Keep it consistent and it becomes a part of you and what you do, therefore what you create. Single celled bacteria think more simplisticly. Something may not be working. And above all, remember that bacteria are smarter than you within their domain, and switch up your sani. chemistry. You are ultimately smarter.
ps. we clean our 70 or so lines with caustic and switch with paa, saniclean and oxine every 2 weeks to keep the suckers in check