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Essential Components of a Draught Beer System

Draught keg dispense equipment refers to the various components and systems used to serve draught beer from kegs. Properly equipped draught keg dispense systems allow pubs, bars, and restaurants to serve fresh, high-quality draught beer while maintaining the proper carbonation, temperature, and pressure.

The foundation of any draught system is the keg itself. Draught beer kegs are typically stainless steel containers ranging from 5 to 15.5 gallons. Inside the keg, beer is kept carbonated by pressure from carbon dioxide gas (CO2). Popular keg sizes in the US include the 1⁄2 barrel (15.5 gallons) and the 1⁄4 barrel or pony keg (7.75 gallons). Kegs may be served vertical or horizontal. Horizontal kegs allow more beers to fit in a cooler.

To tap and serve beer from a keg, a coupler is attached on top. Couplers consist of two valves that penetrate the keg – an air line and a beverage line. The air line injects pressurized CO2 into the keg to push beer out. The beverage line dispenses beer using a tap handle at the bar. Couplers are designed specifically for each keg type and size. Ball lock couplers are common for smaller kegs while pin lock couplers accommodate full size 1⁄2 and 1⁄4 barrels.

Proper cooling is critical for draught systems. Kegs should be kept cold to prevent foaming, maintain carbonation, and provide a chilled pint. Refrigerated keg coolers hold kegs between 36-42°F. Air-cooled and glycol-cooled systems are most common. Glycol uses an antifreeze and water mix circulated through coils for efficient cooling. A drip pan inside the keg storage area catches condensation and spills. CO2 tanks are also kept nearby to maintain pressure.

Beyond cooling and tapping, draught beer requires the right gas pressure for proper serving. Too much pressure causes over-carbonation while too little can lead to foamy, flat beer. A beer gas blender mixes CO2 and nitrogen for stouts and nitro brews. Regulators control and adjust keg pressure levels. An ideal serving pressure depends on factors like beer style, length of draw lines, and ambient temperature.

Serving temperature is also impacted by the dispense lines carrying beer from kegs to the tap. These lines should be kept as short as possible. Long draw lines and improperly cooled lines warm beer above ideal serving temperatures. Stainless steel and vinyl beverage tubing are common line materials that resist wear, temperature fluctuations, and bacterial growth.

To pour and present beer, a tap and shank are installed at the point of dispense. Taps have a valve control lever and nozzle. Common draught tap types include standard rear-sealing taps, NxT dispense taps, and Euro or forward-sealing taps. A shank is mounted on the bar to connect the tap. Nut-and-tail assemblies make up the shank and facilitate easy tap removal for cleaning.

Finally, drip trays catch spills below the tap. Drip trays should be emptied frequently to maintain sanitation. Drain lines route excess beer from drip trays to a waste container. An automatic drain pan sensor alerts staff when the drip tray needs to be drained to prevent overflowing. Proper drip tray drainage and sanitation prevents slipped hazards and growth of bacteria and mold.

In summary, draught keg dispense equipment consists of:

  • Kegs to hold and store beer
  • Couplers to tap kegs
  • Refrigerated coolers to chill kegs
  • CO2 and nitrogen gas for pressurization
  • Regulators to control gas pressure
  • Beverage lines to transport beer
  • Taps and shank for dispensing
  • Drip trays to collect spills and overflow

Correctly integrating these components allows bars and restaurants to grow draught sales and profits. By serving beer at the proper temperature, carbonation, and pressure, an excellent draught system showcases beer as the brewer intended. With regular cleaning and maintenance, quality draught equipment provides many years of enhanced draught beer service. Draught accounts for over 60% of beer sales for many pubs, underscoring this equipment’s importance for any bar’s bottom line.