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Thread: draft beer line oxidation

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    27

    draft beer line oxidation

    i was recently talking to a potential draft account. i sampled several of their current beers, mostly coors and bud products and craft beer associated with those distributors. i found that many of the less popular beers had a cardboard flavor which i usually attirubte to oxidation (present in hazed and infused, moose drool, heineken, guiness).

    i asked about the cooler location and he indicated they have about 55' of beer lines. he had some kegs of craft brew which appeared to only be about two months old (he took me into his cooler to check out the kegs.) this seems like a pretty short peried for it to be this oxidized. i would consider it almost undrinkable, but hey, the college kids don't seem to mind.

    could it be the oxidation in the 55' of line between the keg and the handle, or just old beer, or a little bit of both. he admitted that people have said that their draft lines have some problems, but didn't want to talk about it much more than that. i don't know if this is a place i should showcase our fledgling micro.

    any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Nashville
    Posts
    877
    Yes, beer in the lines can become oxidized. This happens fairly easily in vinyl tubing, not so bad in barrier tubing. The answer to this is to clean the lines regularly, and to sell enough of your beer so that it doesn't stay in the lines long enough to become oxidized.

    You might also want to check and see what type of dispense gas he is using. In some older accounts I have found both straight air from an air-compressor being used, or a CO2/ air blend for longer draw systems. Needless to say, this will oxidize the beer in the keg quickly, over a matter of days. At one place, since the Bud and Coors kegs were never around long enough to get oxidized, due to his cheap beer specials, the owner seemed to think that it was a problem more with my beer than with his draft system. He wanted us to "pay for the improvements that only our beer needed" so we declined to do business with him anymore.
    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN
    [url]www.yazoobrew.com[/url]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Dexter, MI USA
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    203
    Hello,

    Ditto what Linus said. My guess is they are using compressed air to push the beers. Few bar owners seem inclined to make needed changes to improve beer quality if the change involves spending any money. So good luck. You may need to move on to another account.

    Cheers,
    Ron
    Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
    Posts
    208
    What they said above...unless you want to come every week and clean your lines. You might ask what he is currently using though, you might get him to switch to co2 to increase quality with all of his beers.
    www.devilcraft.jp
    www.japanbeertimes.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    27
    he's using bar gas, so it seems like it would have to be oxidation in the lines themselves.

    i'm guessing that he might pour less than a beer a day of some of his micros. 55' of 3/8" line equates to about 3 beers. i would venture to say that beer could be in the line itself for up to a week at times. the way to test maybe would be to either pour out a pitcher to make sure the line is completely cleared or put a picnic tap on the keg to see how the beer in the keg is holding up.

    he indicates that coors and bud clean the lines every to weeks.

    thanks for the input guys.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Redmond (Seattle), Wa
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    357
    could it be something other than oxygen? sounds like it might be...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Lambertville, NJ, USA
    Posts
    4
    To resurrect this, I've been having a similar issue at my brewpub. We're outfitted with barrier tubing with lengths of 30 to 85', going to four different towers; pouring directly from serving tanks with CO2-powered Flo-Jets and FOBs in line. We first noticed it when we were a little slower (wherein beer would be potentially sitting in the lines longer) and did a few blind taste tests - pouring from the tank and each tower and ranking for oxidation - to troubleshoot.

    Beer directly from the bright was basically flawless, and almost everyone ranked oxidation as increasing with the increase length of the draw, so we're confident saying that it's definitely coming in somewhere post-tank.

    I'm not yet certain if 1) O2 is being introduced cumulatively in-line such that the longer draws see greater ingress, or 2) O2 is being introduced at a common component before the four lines diverge such that the increased oxidation in the longer lines is simply symptomatic of them taking longer to draw through. I unfortunately don't have a way to bypass all the intermediate components and run a given line straight from tank to tap to test this, however.

    It's also worth mentioning that we pour from the second story and the taps are on the first. I've wondered if there could somehow be air bubbles, say, introduced during line cleaning, trapped somewhere in the system. For example, if beer flow is insufficient to push the bubble all the way down through the faucet, but that the bubble is unable to rise back up to the FOB for whatever reason? Unsure about this, but it's a thought.

    Any other ideas on possible causes and/or solutions? Troubleshooting suggestions?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Anaheim, CA
    Posts
    16

    Keg Cleaning Procedure?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matter View Post
    To resurrect this, I've been having a similar issue at my brewpub. We're outfitted with barrier tubing with lengths of 30 to 85', going to four different towers; pouring directly from serving tanks with CO2-powered Flo-Jets and FOBs in line. We first noticed it when we were a little slower (wherein beer would be potentially sitting in the lines longer) and did a few blind taste tests - pouring from the tank and each tower and ranking for oxidation - to troubleshoot.

    Beer directly from the bright was basically flawless, and almost everyone ranked oxidation as increasing with the increase length of the draw, so we're confident saying that it's definitely coming in somewhere post-tank.

    I'm not yet certain if 1) O2 is being introduced cumulatively in-line such that the longer draws see greater ingress, or 2) O2 is being introduced at a common component before the four lines diverge such that the increased oxidation in the longer lines is simply symptomatic of them taking longer to draw through. I unfortunately don't have a way to bypass all the intermediate components and run a given line straight from tank to tap to test this, however.

    It's also worth mentioning that we pour from the second story and the taps are on the first. I've wondered if there could somehow be air bubbles, say, introduced during line cleaning, trapped somewhere in the system. For example, if beer flow is insufficient to push the bubble all the way down through the faucet, but that the bubble is unable to rise back up to the FOB for whatever reason? Unsure about this, but it's a thought.

    Any other ideas on possible causes and/or solutions? Troubleshooting suggestions?

    Hey Matt,

    Do you notice it in just the beer in the line or the entire keg of beer? When cleaning kegs, how many CO2 purge cycles do you do post Sani? Also, are you using paracetic for Sani? We've been told that filling kegs within 24 hours of cleaning is ideal because the PAA breaks down into oxygen in the keg. We do 4 purges post cleaning but we notice some kegs from a batch seem somewhat oxidized or go that way pretty quick.

    We've also served from serving tanks that were cleaned and filled immediately and the beer was miles better than from the kegged beer. Especially over a long course of time.

    - Mike

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Lambertville, NJ, USA
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    4
    Quote Originally Posted by Bull_MAC View Post
    Hey Matt,

    Do you notice it in just the beer in the line or the entire keg of beer? When cleaning kegs, how many CO2 purge cycles do you do post Sani? Also, are you using paracetic for Sani? We've been told that filling kegs within 24 hours of cleaning is ideal because the PAA breaks down into oxygen in the keg. We do 4 purges post cleaning but we notice some kegs from a batch seem somewhat oxidized or go that way pretty quick.

    We've also served from serving tanks that were cleaned and filled immediately and the beer was miles better than from the kegged beer. Especially over a long course of time.

    - Mike
    Mike,

    I keg almost nothing - only if and when a tank is really low and I need to empty it to get something in there. I do use PAA on the serving tanks, but beer taken from the sample ports shows no signs of oxidation in any case, which you would expect if something procedural at the tank was the cause (ie. PAA, poor transfer/purging procedures). Similarly, a sample pulled off a stagnant tap will be oxidized, but if you burn a couple pints such that you've now got fresh beer from the tank, it disappears. The loss involved with doing this regularly for quality reasons may or may not (read: probably not) be economical, however.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    2,084

    splices?

    Not sure if you designed your system with a main line that splits off to different taps? If so, that might be your problem. I will never splice my barrier line. Each line should be independent from the pump to the tap. BTW, using CO2 to power pumps isn't a great idea. Besides wasting CO2, it makes your cold room dangerous to enter. Air is much better to use as pump driver. There aren't any associated "leaks" from air side to beer side.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Lambertville, NJ, USA
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    4
    Quote Originally Posted by gitchegumee View Post
    Not sure if you designed your system with a main line that splits off to different taps? If so, that might be your problem. I will never splice my barrier line. Each line should be independent from the pump to the tap. BTW, using CO2 to power pumps isn't a great idea. Besides wasting CO2, it makes your cold room dangerous to enter. Air is much better to use as pump driver. There aren't any associated "leaks" from air side to beer side.
    Our lines do split after the pumps; after about a foot of run after the pump, we have a stainless manifold with four outlets - one to each tower - and outfitted with a small PRV that allows us to bleed out any bubble that may rise from the taps (and which thinking about it now, I'm interested in investigating). What is the logic/mechanism involved in O2 pickup from splitting barrier tubing? Simply that you're adding a connection that can potentially fail or be permeable? Or something else?

    Unfortunately, the four towers are here to stay, and of course adding a pump for each tap on each tower would not only be very expensive, but would still involve a split in the line (just on the other side of the pump). Thanks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    2,039
    Each of our trunks splits into two lines immediately after the pump. We've never had any problems running this way for 8 years.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

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