Beer lines

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HomeBrewerB

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Just picked up a kegerator and bout new 3/8th inch tubing about 5 feet long from home depot. Not special tubing or anything. I'm pushing a commercial lagunitas 1/2 barrel at about 8psi and I'm getting a good amount of foam.
The guy I bought it from had a short tube. Only about a foot or two of tube but he said he never had trouble with foam.
From what I'm reading on here most of you run 10th lines.
I have it wrapped in a circle until the faucet and at the high end of each line of the tube has a head of foam on it while the bottom is liquid.
Thanks for your help again
 

day_trippr

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3/8" ID - or 3/16" ID? Hopefully the latter (especially 'cuz it'd be a beyotch to try to clamp a 3/8" line on standard beer fittings).

10+ foot long 3/16" ID beer lines will help provide the necessary resistance to keep the carbonation in the beer over a wider temperature range than shorter lines. Five foot lines may work if the carbonation is low and the beer is kept really cold, but that combination may not put the beer in its best light.

Finally, regardless of the diameter and length, cheap unlined vinyl that you get at the big box stores will likely contribute an unwanted flavor to the beer. Eventually you're probably going to want to get barrier lines...

Cheers!
 

Stauffbier

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3/8 tubing is too big of a diameter, and it sounds like you likely aren't using beverage tubing with thick walls. You need to order yourself some 3/16 diameter beverage line, and you'll be fine. I run 12 foot lines of 3/16 tubing at 12PSI.
 
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HomeBrewerB

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With all the foam getting built up in the lines I feel like if the line was super short it would go from the keg to the faucet without any looping and places for foam to grow.
The tube that came in it was super thick and I think that might be the trick. The kegerator runs well it just has a good head on it when poured.
What's the best psi to run at and why is it better to run such long lines.. It already seems like it's so long. And how do you place your lines in your fridge? Loops vertically or laying flat?
 

day_trippr

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Well, which is it: too much head, or "good" head?

As for the CO2 pressure, first you have to decide what carbonation level you desire, then you use a carbonation table like this, find your holding temperature on the vertical axis, then scan across to the closest value to your desired volumes of CO2, then go up that column to find the appropriate pressure to get it to that level and keep it there.

As for the beer line length, if you think short thick line is the key to a good pour, go for it. The worst thing that might happen is you find that theory doesn't hold beer (like many, many folks) and you need to buy longer beer lines. And for what to do with longer lines, many of us just coil it up on top of the kegs so it sees a narrower temperature range instead of the typically larger gradient between the bottom of the keezer/kegerator and the top...

Cheers!
 

fosaisu

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There are hundreds of threads on line length that get into the physics of why longer, more narrow lines give slower, less foamy pours. Interesting reading, but if you're just looking for quick advice, I've read that people using "standard" 3/16" vinyl beer tubing (I think at the least you'd want to get food or beverage grade tubing to avoid nasty stuff leaching into your beer) have had good success with 10' - 12' beer lines. Some people go shorter, but it's my impression that there's not a great cost (other than slightly slower pours) to beer lines that are "too long" so you're probably better off starting with that length and then trimming them down if your pours are too slow for your taste.

Before I set up my kegerator I read through this thread on off-flavors associated with various types of tubing. Based on that, I ended up starting off with 18' runs of Accuflex Bev-Seal -- you need significantly longer lengths of this than of standard vinyl tubing since it has low resistance, but many people seem to think it lends as close to zero off tastes as you're going to get). I have had great pours from day one and no off flavors, so I'll stick with the Bev-Seal. Of course I haven't tried other options myself (that are likely cheaper and allow shorter line lengths than the Bev-Seal) so I'm only relying on the experience of others in assuming that vinyl tubing, even if specifically designed for beverage serving, can still lend off flavors to the beer.

As for wrangling the longer beer lines, it is a bit of a pain (somewhat more-so with Bev-Seal, which is stiffer and requires longer lengths than vinyl), but I've had good luck using cable ties to keep them coiled on top of the kegs. It's an extra hassle when getting set up or changing kegs, but worth it in my opinion for consistently good pours.

Good luck, and enjoy your kegerator!
 

JuanMoore

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Just picked up a kegerator and bout new 3/8th inch tubing about 5 feet long from home depot. Not special tubing or anything. I'm pushing a commercial lagunitas 1/2 barrel at about 8psi and I'm getting a good amount of foam.
The guy I bought it from had a short tube. Only about a foot or two of tube but he said he never had trouble with foam.
From what I'm reading on here most of you run 10th lines.
I have it wrapped in a circle until the faucet and at the high end of each line of the tube has a head of foam on it while the bottom is liquid.
Thanks for your help again
Foam building up in the tops of the lines between pours indicates that your serving pressure is too low for the carbonation level in the beer. Shorter lines isn't going to fix the issue, and will cause a separate issue by not slowing the beer enough, and result in a firehose of foam. What temp is the beer at? Most commercial kegs are carbed to ~2.6-2.7 vol, which would require 13 psi serving pressure at 38°. The serving pressure has to match the carb level and temp of the beer as seen in the chart day_trippr linked. If the serving pressure is higher, the beer will overcarb. If it's lower the CO2 will escape solution and form pockets of gas in the lines just like you're describing.

Unless you're keeping the beer under 38°, you'll likely find that 5' of 3/16" ID line is too short. The 10' lines you see suggested constantly are a good length to handle a relatively wide range of serving temps, but you can get by with much shorter lines if the beer is kept very cold, and the carb levels moderate.
 

Odin_Brews

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Call me a nerd, but I found this link to be really useful info on how to balance the system and how to understand the relationship between line length, diameter, pressure, etc. Im sure I found the link on some other thread on here. Just getting set up for kegging so I haven't put it to practice yet.

http://www.franklinbrew.org/wp/?page_id=98
 

JuanMoore

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Odin_Brews said:
Call me a nerd, but I found this link to be really useful info on how to balance the system and how to understand the relationship between line length, diameter, pressure, etc. Im sure I found the link on some other thread on here. Just getting set up for kegging so I haven't put it to practice yet.

http://www.franklinbrew.org/wp/?page_id=98
That's a terrible article IMO. It assumes a very cold beer storage temp, but then uses 44F in one of the examples, giving the impression that those equations and tables of figures are valid for temps over 38F, which is not true. The table of line resistance figures is only valid for a pour speed of ~1 gal/min, which is too fast for the carb levels and temps used by the majority of people on this site. For warmer serving temps or higher carb levels the flow needs to be slower/gentler to keep the CO2 from breaking out of solution, and as the flow slows down, the line resistance for a given tubing decreases dramatically. It also gives the impression that there's a magical "balance" or an ideal line length, and anything else will cause problems. A line that's too short will certainly cause problems, but the only side effect of longer lines is a very slightly slower pour. IMO an extra second or two to fill a pint is well worth the flexibility of being able to serve at a wide range of carb levels and serving temps, but as always YMMV.

If you really are a nerd like me, you'll appreciate the only line calculator I've seen that doesn't ignore the basic laws of fluid mechanics-
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApGb-vIKLq7FdGtzN3BrY2xZSldORzQ2bHVVX0hzaEE#gid=0

The only thing you need to figure out is the desired pour speed, which will depend on your serving temp and carb level.
 
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HomeBrewerB

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Thanks guys for everything.


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Some pics so you guys can check out the set up
Got a 5# co2 tank with a lagunitas Maximus IPA in there right now
Serving temp is very cold. Under 38.
The front wall is made made out of plexi glass
Thanks again folks!
 
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