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Case Study: Draft Beer System Design – Stainless Steel Vs. Chrome Plated Faucets

Draft Beer System Design – Stainless Steel Vs. Chrome-Plated Faucets

Where do faucets fall on your list of essential features in your draft beer system design? The type of faucet used to dispense beer is crucial to the end product. Moreover, the value of the faucet and the type of alloy used is often an afterthought.

However, the quality of the product poured from those faucets is what brings your customers back. As a result, the beer faucet you choose and its quality should be well-thought-out.

When considering the main factors that are essential in choosing an alloy, resistance to corrosion, metallic leaching, and the taste of the beverage are at the top of the list.

The Study:

A study in 2000 by Lorraine D. Doucet and Forrest Thornton of Beertown.org considered these factors to determine the following:

1) does a traditional chrome-plated dispensing system contain more bacteria and yeast than a non-traditional stainless steel system? (*one must ask, how, why, and when did a chrome-plated system become the industry standard and more specifically the traditional type of dispense system?)

2) learn how much copper and lead leached from the exposed brass surface areas.

3) compare the taste profiles of Budweiser and Bud Light samples drawn from chrome-plated brass and stainless steel faucets.

Bacteria and Yeast in Stainless Steel Vs. Chrome-Plated Faucet

They discovered 28% fewer total heterotrophic bacteria, 53% fewer coliform bacteria, and 49% fewer yeast cells appear in the stainless steel faucets when pouring Budweiser. Bud Light samples drawn from the stainless steel faucets demonstrated an even more significant reduction in microorganisms. The samples overall averages of 36% fewer total heterotrophic bacteria, 65% fewer coliform bacteria, and 74% fewer yeast cells than the total percentage of microorganisms found in samples from chrome-plated faucets. All beer samples during this study came from the same kegs and lines. The difference in bacteria and yeast percentages are due solely to the faucets.

Copper and Lead in Stainless Steel Vs. Chrome-Plated Faucet

When testing the copper levels in beer samples, it found higher levels of copper in the chrome-plated faucets. The stainless steel faucets, on the other hand, proved decisive by not increasing copper levels. It confirmed that the copper levels in beer samples drawn from stainless steel faucets directly attributed to the chrome-plated faucets themselves. The chrome-plated faucets leached significantly higher levels of copper than the stainless steel faucets.

No lead detected in the control samples from the traditional chrome-plated faucets.  But, trace amounts detected in the stainless steel faucets.

Comparison of Taste

During this study, both faucets types were set up at a Nashua, N.H. pub for taste tests. The tests were conducted using Budweiser from the faucet as well as the bottle. A total of 18 samples taken at 42F. The tests found that both the bottled Budweiser and the Budweiser drawn from the stainless steel dispensing system contained 0.006 mg/l copper and no lead. This amount of copper is the base level contained in bottled Budweiser.

Subsequently, there was no additional metallic flavor added to the beer samples from the faucet than the flavors in the bottled beer.

Conclusion

If you aim to offer a similar taste of draft beer to its bottled counterpart, the draft beer system design is critical to achieving this successfully. You will need to partner with a draft beer system design and installation company that specs materials that don’t disrupt taste or add to the metallic undertones of a beer poured from copper-heavy faucets. Higher quality materials are the only way to maintain the flavor the brewer intended for every pour.

In this study, the only case a taste tester found the beer to taste precisely like its bottled counterpart was when poured from an all stainless steel faucet. However, it is essential to note that these faucets were cleaned and well-maintained before the tasting. It is equally vital to keep faucets clean consistently. By selecting a stainless steel faucet, you’re providing your customers with a clean, crisp, fresh taste like the beers bottled equivalent.

Read the full study here.

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