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Thread: draft beer line oxidation

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    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.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Dexter, MI USA

    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.

    Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Tokyo Japan
    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    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
    Redmond (Seattle), Wa
    could it be something other than oxygen? sounds like it might be...

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