We can find draft beer and beverage systems everywhere we go nowadays. The neighborhood restaurant, bars, stadiums, national restaurant chains, and breweries creating and pouring our favorite beers are all within arms reach.
But did you know that beer line cleaning is one of the most overlooked and neglected parts of draft beer system ownership?
Draft beer is a food product (aka liquid bread), and therefore, we should treat it no differently than any other food product.
The care and attention for handling food should be the same for draft beer systems.
BUT, here is the dirty secret you DON’T know about draft beer line cleaning management and regulations…
We DO NOT treat beer like food in California, and unfortunately, this is the standard for most of the country!
Beer line cleaning and management is an industry issue. It’s the draft beer industry’s dirty little secret, and many people in the industry turn a blind eye to it.
With that said, the regulations and health codes around draft beer systems differ from other beverage system dispensers. They also can vary from state to state. The Brewers Association does a great job with their recommendations, but there isn’t consistent regulation or accountability for draft beer systems.
Brewers devote so much time, effort, and resources to deliver the best possible beer for consumers (all of us). From ingredient selection to technological advances in brewing, so much love goes into producing our favorite carbonated beverages.
Clean beer lines are vital to maintaining the quality of draft beer and other beverage products. Most batches of beer are tested throughout the brewing process to ensure consistency and quality from keg to keg.
Unfortunately, bad beer systems still pour beer. Dirty beer systems also still pour beer.
You can ruin a beer in the time it takes the beer to travel from the keg to glass. In a poorly maintained draft beer system, you can destroy a lot of beer.
Here is how we can correct this issue together…
Please educate yourself on local and regional health codes. State regulations are also vital due to the variance throughout the country on beer line cleaning and maintenance.
Some areas will be distributor maintained regions, and others will be retailer responsibility. Most regions are not regulated and are on a two-week cleaning cycle.
Some areas are weekly with local health departments monitoring the cleaning like they would food temperatures. Regardless of where you are located, beer will always be food, so we need to handle it with the same expectation.
We will be linking any state regulations that we find here…check back soon for more or leave a comment below if you have some to add:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
As a community of beer lovers, we all bear some responsibility for the current state of draft beer line cleaning, beer system design, and accepting that dirty beer systems still pour beer.
We all need to find a way to work together to make this industry a better place to work and drink fresh beer.
For The Brewers (Producers)
We need you to pressure the distributors to make sure your beer is pouring on clean beer lines. Good beer is wasted if poured on an unmaintained, poorly designed draft beer system.
Do you want us, consumers, thinking your beloved beer is flat (under carbonated) or has a foul, off-taste? Don’t you love it when consumers add tasting notes to Untapped, and they are not close to the flavor profile you created for that beer?
“This beer is horrible; it tastes like apple cider, with a hint of sour and a splash of mango butter. Oh wait, is that lactose, jalapeno popcorn. No, No, No. That’s mold, or is it metallic, possibly brass.” – Untapped Level 1 Cicerone Expert.
Please hold the beer distributors accountable for cleaning and maintaining the beer lines in the establishments that pour your beer.
For The Distributors
We need you to be better. You’re the middleman between the brewer and the consumer. In most cases, you have the responsibility of selling beer and managing the cleanliness of the draft beer lines.
You need to manage your beer line cleaning companies, verify the work is being done correctly, and pay a fair wage. Vendors can’t adequately clean a beer system for $2 – $5 per line in a five (5) minute window. If you’ve been following along would know that it takes much longer to complete a proper beer line cleaning.
If you continue operating this way, dirty draft beer systems will continue to be the standard in this country. Your salespeople need to take ownership of the beer lines you manage. If you paid more attention to the dispensing systems rather than the checks you are collecting in sales, you would be horrified by the conditions of these draft beer systems.
For The Restaurant, Bars, and Hospitality Industry (Retailers)
Free or inexpensive draft beer line cleaning, installations, and draft beer system components will cost you more money over time. Be aware and educated on the services and products you receive from a draft beer installation or maintenance company. You get what you pay for when it comes to your draft beer system.
Hold the beer distributors accountable for your beer line cleaning, where applicable, based upon the negotiated scope of work. The distributor cleaning doesn’t include dissembling FOBs and possibly other components in many cases. That type of service is something you would contact a third-party contractor like Draft Beer Intelligence to handle for you.
Free beer line cleaning is a poorly managed and ineffective service in most regions throughout the country. Also, keep in mind that not all beer cleaning companies and their standards are equal. Ask a lot of questions and watch them clean. Are they onsite “cleaning” your lines for 5-10 minutes and then disappearing? If so, your beer lines are not being cleaned to industry standards, if at all.
Contact us at Draft Beer Intelligence for draft beer system maintenance and beer line cleaning program options. We would love the opportunity to survey your draft beer systems.
For The Consumers
You are the end-all, be-all in this equation. If the beer doesn’t taste right, ask questions, and request a new beer. Is it a fair expectation to pay $7-8 for a pint of dirty, moldy, rusty, off-tasting beer?
When has any beer drinker requested a nice cold pint of a Hazy IPA, triple dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Pediococcus? Or pour me an ice-cold Mexican lager brewed with Mold, Beer Stone, and flakes of rust? This is the type of beer you’re drinking in many establishments throughout the country.
We hope you can hold us all accountable because there is no beer industry without you. Your feedback and draft beer purchases from retailers ensure draft beer systems are not only maintained but correctly designed as well.
Do you have any questions or need support?
Here at Draft Beer Intelligence, our standards and commitment revolve around you; the brewers, restaurants, bars, hospitality, and consumers. Clean beer lines will ensure the appearance, aroma, and flavor experience intended by the brewer is delivered pint after pint.
So, let’s give your customers a reason to keep coming back! Contact us anytime if you have questions or need support with your draft beer line cleaning.
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