Coronavirus shut down: take care of beer lines or risk costly contamination

Jacopo Mazzeo

Jacopo Mazzeo

19 March 2020

Beer left to stagnate inside lines could prove costly, so operators need to take care warns the American Brewers Association

As the number of on-trade outlets that are temporarily closing their doors keeps rising, the American Brewers Association (BA) has released a guide to help venues make sure draught beer lines will be fully functional after a potentially long period of inactivity.

‘It is important to take some steps to make sure your system stays healthy and you are not faced with an unexpected expense or quality concerns when starting it back up,’ says the BA.

Indeed, if beer is left to stagnate inside the lines for an extended period of time, there is a significant risk the lines will develop irreversible bacterial contamination, which can lead to gas leak hazards or a costly draught line replacement

The document outlines six steps each venue should repeat every four weeks during the shutdown period:

  1. Ask your system cleaner to complete a standard cleaning prior to shutdown
  2. Ensure the system is being chemically cleaned, that all faucets are 'fully disassembled for detailing and all couplers are scrubbed clean'
  3. Leave lines packed with beer if cleaning every other week, otherwise with clean rinse water
  4. Keep the cooler on
  5. Turn off the system's gas supply to help prevent leakage
  6. Clean and dry carefully the cooler to prevent the development of mould

In addition to these, the guide provides a useful list of pitfalls to avoid:

  1. Do not leave chemicals in draught beer lines; these could create a safety hazard and damage the tubing
  2. Do not leave couplers or any other hardware on the floor or any soiled area; also do not leave them attached to kegs
  3. Do not shut off glycol power pack
  4. Do not cap or cover faucet openings or keg valves
  5. Do not increase temperature of or turn off keg cooler

The guide's full text can be downloaded here. British venues are advised to double check before taking any action as some UK dispense systems may work differently from American ones.

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