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Cleaning Long Draw Lines w/o High Temp

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  • Cleaning Long Draw Lines w/o High Temp

    Hello all,

    I'm realizing that our tasting room tech's cleaning regimen has been passed down from tech to tech without much research behind it. We have a 100ft+ long draw system and the techs have always cleaned with Penetrate. We are looking to switch over to the same caustic we use in the brewhouse, but their regimen only turns off the glycol chiller and doesn't use hot cleaner because if we do, it takes hours for the lines to chill again and our tasting room is only closed 2 days out of the year. Does anyone have experience or SOPs on cleaning long draw systems with caustic at ~30-40°F instead of the usual high temps? I'm guessing we'd have to up the concentration, but I don't know how much!


    Peter C
    Peter Cronin
    Senior Quality Analyst
    AleSmith Brewing Company

  • #2
    I would suggest you don't raise the concentration too much. A lot of draught parts can be chrome plated brass, and may react with strong solutions. I would suggest running the caustic for a longer period instead and possibly using a pulsing pump depending on your setup. We used to have some tap connectors and shank connectors so you could connect all the lines in one huge loop. That made cleaning all the lines at once quite easy as you could manually clean the taps while the loop is running. By the time you were ready to re-assemble you were good to go.

    You may not even need to do anything different. It depends on how you quantify clean tap lines. Most people don't plate the clean lines, so they just use a method they feel gives a clean flavor and no visual gunk. I would first run the regular concentration of caustic solution (maybe 1.5-2%) at your max comfortable temp and see if you have a need to up the concentration. You could also consider a switch to an acid based cleaning, which could take place at cooler temperatures, however it would again depend on how you quantify clean and what you are comfortable with.


    • #3
      At my first brewery, I took on rewriting the SOP for draftline cleaning. Similar scenario, the SOP had been handed down many times over with no real foresight or attention so things strayed off course pretty badly. We also had only 2 days that the taproom was closed and (2) 8 line 100ft trunklines, ugh.

      Not really sure what your SOP is now but here's mine in a nutshell.

      So, start with BA Draught Quality Manual, read it, learn it, know it. Definitely get a pulsating pump, jumper lines for the faucet tower and locking keg couplers (Foxx or similar vendor) and use 5Star or Micromatic caustic line cleaner every 14 days then switch to acid every fourth or fifth cleaning.

      I used to start every other Monday at 6 am (come in much earlier the first time!). Tie half the lines together to form a loop of taps 1-4 on both towers, flush with hot tap water until clear of beer, then recirculate caustic at 3% (maybe even 4% to start or 2 turns) at 100-120f for 20 minutes, dump caustic from return pot (stainless dairy pot) and fill with cold water for 3x and flush line, repeat for other half of lines. By the time everything was flushed with cold water and chiller back on and beer flowing, the trunkline was cooled and beer poured without foam - usually right as the first customers were coming in.

      I'd send the cleaner up #1 and down #2, etc, the first week then reverse and go up #2 and down #1 the next week.

      Typical beer loss of about 6 pints per line (2 for the initial purge and 3 or 4 pints to get back to cold/no foam). Totally worth it to us for clean lines.


      • #4
        If it is taking so long to cool your lines down, your line chiller is undersized.

        I've found that the sizing for these glycol line chillers is highly optimistic. We currently use chillers rated for about twice the length of line we use (90' in one facility, 30 in another), and they do the job quite well. When we used one rated for 150' on our 12 line, 90' run, it was pathetically underpowered.

        Ben's SOP above is about exactly how we do it. Temps higher than around 130 cause the vinyl beer lines to balloon.
        Timm Turrentine

        Terminal Gravity Brewing,
        Enterprise. Oregon.


        • #5
          Have you tried a cooling step at the end? That is, flushing with cold water until the lines are close to temp. I think line chillers are sized for temperature maintenance not temp recovery.

          Also, the Hofbauhaus breweries use cold caustic. You might want to reach out to them about concentrations.