*This info comes from the Brewers Association*
In the event you are unable to serve draught beer for an extended period, 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. If beer is left stagnant in draught lines for too long, the system will be at risk of an irreversible bacterial contamination. Taking the right steps can prevent you from having to deal with dangerous gas leak hazards, costly draught line contamination, or even more expensive draught line replacement.
1. Prior to shutdown, contact your system cleaner as soon as possible to complete a standard cleaning. If your service provider is too busy to come out immediately, your system can go up to two weeks between cleanings. In the meantime, it is ok to leave your system as-is.
2. Line cleaners should chemically clean the system as recommended by the Brewers Association Draught Beer Quality Manual (Chapter 7 of DBQM v4). During this time, it is important to ensure all faucets are fully disassembled for detailing and all couplers are scrubbed clean.
a. Each faucet should be reassembled and put back on the tower without any barrier covering its spout. Capping the faucets or wrapping them in plastic wrap could trap moisture and lead to mold growth.
b. All couplers should remain disengaged from kegs (and off the floor)
3. Following the chemical cleaning (2 options)
a. Leave the lines packed with beer. Continue to clean the system on a regular two-week cycle throughout the shutdown period. Biofilm will grow exponentially over this extended period of time necessitating the regular bi-weekly cleaning.
b. If continuing a regular two-week cleaning cycle is not a viable option, leave clean rinse water packed in the lines. Some specific brands of barrier tubing used in some glycol systems may not be compatible with extended exposure to tap water. In some cases, free chlorine in water can be absorbed by a tubing’s lining leading to an off-taste. Where possible, de-chlorinated water is best.
4. Temperature Considerations
a. Keep the cooler on. Kegs should be stored at a temperature between 36°-38° F. Increased temperatures will rapidly accelerate aging which will cause irreversible flavor damage to beer and cause the beer to go flat. Warm coolers also encourage extensive mold growth.
b. For glycol systems:
i. If beer is left in the lines, leave the glycol temperature unchanged.
ii. If water is left in the lines, the glycol power pack temperature should be raised to 40 degrees F°. The standard recommended operating temperatures (28°-30°), will cause freezing and will potentially cause damage to the draught system. Before adjusting your thermostat, record the setting to be able to return to the original temperature.
iii. If the glycol power pack temperature cannot be turned up, do not turn it off. In this case, the rinse water must be blown from the system using an empty pressurized cleaning pot and the draught system’s CO2, Nitrogen, or CO2/Nitrogen blend. It is important to not simply drain the lines, allowing oxygen to be introduced.
iv. If beer is left in the lines, resume normal operation of glycol system by leaving it powered on and set between 28°-30°F. If the temperature of the beer in the lines increases, the speed and impact of the biofilm formation will be exacerbated, resulting in the need for deeper cleaning.
5. Turn off the gas supply to the draught system. This will prevent any dangerous gas leaks from occurring. Be sure you are only turning off the gas to the draught beer and not to other critical services in your restaurant/taproom, like soda, etc.
6. Clean and dry the interior of the cooler, especially floors, walls, and kegs to prevent mold growth. The above steps should be repeated every 4 weeks during shutdown of draught operations. Pitfalls to Avoid:
• Do not leave chemicals in draught beer lines, as this creates a safety hazard and could damage the tubing.
• Do not leave couplers or any other hardware on the floor or any soiled area.
• Do not leave couplers attached to kegs.
• Do not shut off glycol power pack. Turning off glycol could result in overflow or system failure.
• Do not cap or cover faucet openings or keg valves.
• Do not increase temperature of or turn off keg cooler.