Draft Beer Links
||Having problems with your kegerator?
dealing with foamy beer causing half empty glasses and wasted
Maybe your beer is turning sour or it has an off
Then our easy to follow on-line kegerator
troubleshooting guideline is here to help!
In this one short article,
we can answer all of these questions!
causes foamy beer?
tap handle sticking or
getting harder & harder to pull?
Foamy beer is almost always caused by one or more
of nine different issues:
There is a foamy beer problem
experienced by most owners of low cost home kegerators.
With most of these kegerators, the first glass of beer is always
This is because cold air is heavier than warm air and the
cold air stays inside the kegerator.
And because your beer tower is mounted
on top of your kegerator, it stays at room temperature.
means the top of the beer
line, beer faucet & beer shank that are inside your tower all
stay warm until you pour.
The warm beer line, beer faucet
& beer shank causes the first Ĺ glass of beer to warm up &
The second Ĺ glass and subsequent glasses are OK
as long as you keep pouring because now everything is cold.
will get another glass of foamy beer after 15 minutes or less have
passed without dispensing a beer.
We solve this problem with our
Beer Tower Cooler.
Beer Tower Coolers are also available wholesale through FOXX
Equipment if you own your own homebrew shop.
Did you just put the keg in your kegerator? If
so then walk away for at least 2 hours to let the beer settle.
Wrenching the keg into your car, driving home and then pulling
the keg out of your car and putting it in your kegerator
agitates your beer quite a bit and this agitation will cause a
short term foaming beer problem. Also, the keg has probably
warmed up a few degrees and your kegerator needs to cool the
beer back down to the proper serving temperature.
If you have a foamy beer problem and the beer
has been in your kegerator for a while, the first thing to do is
take the beerís temperature. To do this, pour a glass of beer
then stick a probe type thermometer in the glass and note the
temperature. For any American style Lager such as Bud, the
temperature should not be any higher than 38 degrees F. Other
beers, depending on style, can be at higher temperatures but no
beer should be more than 45 degrees F. If in doubt, ask the
brewery or your local distributor. Beer thatís too warm will
foam no matter what you do and the only effective solution is to
let your kegerators cool down the beer.
If youíve just put the keg in your kegerators
and the partyís starting soon you can speed up cooling by piling
ice mixed with salt up on top of the keg and catching run-off
water with towels as the ice melts. But donít expect a miracle.
Depending on the temperature of your beer, it may still take
hours to pull the temperature down to where it needs to be. The
best solution is pre-planning Ė pick up your keg that morning or
the day before the party!
Look at CO2 pressure only after you make sure
the temperature is right. Your CO2 regulator should be set to
around 9 Ė 12 PSI. Some experts recommend 14 PSI but I find 14
PSI to be a little too high for most home kegerators. The
correct pressure is the pressure that pours a beer thatís bubble
free as it leaves the mouth of the beer faucet. Too little
pressure and CO2 will start breaking out in the beer line and
will show up as small bubbles coming out with the beer. Too much
pressure and beer will be spraying out of the faucet.
All kegerators will start depositing beer
stone on the inside of the beer lines from the very first keg.
Beer stone is actually a lime deposit that comes from the beer.
It slowly deposits on the inside of the beer line and will
eventually flake & crack. Once this happens, the excessive
roughness on the inside of the beer line will cause foaming.
Beer stone is not caused by a lack of cleaning or by bad beer Ė
itís a natural deposit. And although there are commercial
cleaners designed to remove beer stone, the beer line in a home
kegerator is so short and inexpensive that the easiest solution
is to just replace the line every 2 Ė 3 years.
Cleanliness is everything to a kegerator and
prevention is always better than cleaning after the fact. The
first line of defense is to never let your keg coupler fall to
the bottom of your kegerators or rest unprotected on any
surface, including the top of either keg while changing out a
keg. If you do then the business end of the coupler can pick up
ďwho knows whatĒ and introduce an infection into your new keg.
Instead, stick the coupler in a clean plastic bag with the gas
and beer lines sticking out of the open end to prevent
contamination. Next, purchase a small trigger sprayer, the type
some people use to mist houseplants and fill it with cheap
vodka. Then every day or two, place a bar rag under the mouth of
your beer faucet and spray the heck out of the inside of your
beer faucet. The alcohol on the vodka will kill anything trying
to grow inside the mouth of your beer faucet and the water will
flush out any drying beer residue. Follow this routine
religiously and youíll only need to thoroughly clean your beer
line three or four times a year.
Another cause of foam is improper pouring of
your beer. A beer faucet is designed to be fully open or fully
closed. But invariably a guest will try to pour his or her glass
slowly by partly opening the beer faucet and this always causes
foam because the beer sprays past the valve in the back of the
faucet. If you have a guest complaining of foamy beer, watch him
or her pour a glass of beer then show your guest a proper pour.
Dirty glassware can cause foamy beer, but Iím
not talking about dirty as in lack of cleaning. Some dishwashing
detergents leave a residue on the surface of your glassware that
you canít see but the residue can cause mysterious foaming
problems. Commercial glass cleaners are available but itís
cheaper to use a household sheeting / clean rinsing detergent to
clean your glassware. Cascade makes a great beer glass cleaner
and can be used even if you donít have a dishwasher, but other
products will also work. If in doubt, ask your local bar or club
what they use to clean their glassware.
A kinked beer line can cause foaming beer, but
this is almost never an issue if you use the proper beer line
for your kegerator. If you bought your kegerator new, youíll
note that the beer line is very heavy for its ID (inside
diameter) of 3/16Ē. This type of beer line is almost impossible
to kink. But many replace their original beer line with thin
wall 3/16Ē ID line from their local home improvement store and
the thinner line is very easy to kink, causing foaming problems.
The right answer is to pay a few cents more for proper beer
line, even if you have to mail order the line.
Any new kegerators will come with beer lines
that seem too long and some kegerators owners will cut the
excess length out of their beer line. As soon as you shorten the
beer line you will have a foaming problem because the line is
long to help prevent foaming. Your kegerator shipped with 5 ft
of 3/16Ē ID or 6 ft of 3/16Ē ID beer line and this was no
accident. 6' is just
the right length to gradually slow down the beer on the way to a
faucet and 5í is just the right length to work with a beer
tower. If you or the previous owner shortened your beer line
then you will never solve your foaming problem until you put the
length back to where it was. And make sure it's 3/16" ID line
because 1/4" ID line offers almost no restriction and will not
slow down your beer.
A sticking tap handle is almost always caused by
drying beer residue plugging up the works. Disassemble your beer
faucet and youíll see that a long shaft rides back and forth in the
bore of the faucet and beer is shut off with a seal that closes in
the back of the faucet. When you pour a beer this shaft gets wet
with beer then the beer thatís left on the shaft dries into a sticky
goo. Once this sticky goo gets thick enough the shaft starts to bind
inside the boor of your faucet causing your tap handle to stick.
Bars and pubs rarely have this problem because they pour more beers
per hour than you pour in a day and the constant flow keeps the beer
residue from drying into a sticky goo.
The answer is simple Ė just purchase a small
trigger sprayer, the type some people use to mist houseplants, and
fill it with cheap vodka. Then, place a bar rag under the mouth of
your beer faucet and spray the heck out of the inside every day or
two. The alcohol on the vodka will kill anything trying to grow
inside the mouth of your beer faucet and the water will flush out
any drying beer residue.
Flat beer is usually caused by CO2 pressure set
too low or beer thatís too cold.
Beer depends on a certain amount of head pressure
(CO2 pressure) to keep the CO2 that was put in at the brewery in the
beer. If you pour a glass of beer and sit it on the counter, the
beer will eventually go flat. This is because the glass of beer does
not have any head pressure sitting on top of the beer to keep the
CO2 in suspension. The very same thing can happen to the beer in
your kegerator. Set your CO2 regulator too low or even turn off your
CO2 bottle between pours and often your keg will start to go flat
before you can empty it. This is because you allowed the pressure to
drop too low and the CO2 is leaving the beer in your keg, just like
its leaving the beer in your glass.
But this is an easy problem to fix Ė just
temporarily set your CO2 regulator to 35 Ė 45 PSI for a while to
force more CO2 back into your beer. I canít tell you for how long Ė
itís a trial and error thing but I suggest that you start with 2
hours and if 2 hours isnít enough, do the same exercise an hour at a
time until your beer is carbonated again. Just donít forget to set
the regulator back to your pour pressure and bleed off the excess
pressure before pouring a beer.
The latest craze in bars these days is to serve
beer as cold as possible. And although a frosted over cobra beer
tower looks neat, super cold beer really means relatively flat beer
because the CO2 just wants to sit in the beer instead of trying to
escape from your beer glass. So, even though your beer has plenty of
carbonation, you get no bubbles and no head on top of your beer
glass. The solution to this problem is simple - make sure your beer
is not colder than 36 degrees F.
Cloudy beer thatís not supposed to be cloudy can
be caused by a bacteria infection. But if this is the case you
should be able to taste the infection Ė the beer will have a slight
or pronounced sour taste that does not belong in the beer. If your
beer has an infection then I recommend that you invite a lot of
friends over to help empty the keg as soon as possible because it
will get worse, fast. The infection wonít hurt you, itís the same
bacteria used to make vinegar and thatís exactly what itís trying to
do to your beer. Once your keg is empty and before you tap another
keg, thoroughly clean your beer coupler, beer line and beer faucet
to prevent introducing the infection into the next keg of beer.
Another cloudiness issue is chill haze which is
caused by proteins in your beer coming out of suspension when your
beer is cold. This is common in some micobrew and homebrew beers and
is caused by not removing enough suspended proteins during the mash
and brew processes. To find out if your cloudiness issue is chill
haze, pour a glass of beer and set it aside. If itís chill haze, the
cloudiness will go away as your beer warms up. Chill haze does not
harm your beer.
Click here for more details about our beer tower cooler.