Tap and beer line cleaning?

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Michele Craft

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Hi all,

Building a 4 tap keezer here with black iron pipe "tower" on a hinged lid. I am wondering how people are cleaning their lines and how often? Each keg change at a minimum I assume. I'd like a way to make it as easy as possible (jumpers on the tap side perhaps to connect things?) but wondering what's realistic? How long do you have to run cleaner? Is it cleaner (I've heard about PBW?) and then a rinse with star san or something? Just not really sure what the process is. My beer lines will have ball lock ends on them if it matters.

thanks in advance!
 

Golddiggie

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Between kegs I normally run StarSan through the lines going from the keg side. I have a keg with some in it already for this, as well as other things. Depending on factors, I might run some warm PBW through the lines. Also via a keg. I do it this way so that I DON'T have to do anything to the tap end or install any 'jumpers' or such.

I will inspect the lines between kegs as well. If anything looks 'off' I replace those lines. IMO, it's not worth risking a batch of finished beer if you don't trust the line state 100%.

Earlier in my kegging life, I would run PBW, rinse water, then StarSan through the lines with each change. I've relaxed a bit since then, but I'll at least run StarSan through the lines at pressure. Typically a quart or two. I then leave it in those lines for at least several minutes before blasting out either with CO2, or the beer from the new keg. Depends on the batch going onto that tap (and how much I have of it).
 
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Michele Craft

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I don't (and won't) do home brewing so I won't have kegs to fill with stuff tho I'm wondering if it's worth it to get one or do those hand pumps I see on amazon or whatever work ok?
 

Golddiggie

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I only drink the beer I brew, especially from taps here. If you're not going to do that, then you'll need to get additional equipment that won't be used for anything else. I hate having uni-task items for anything.

Back when I started kegging and built my own keg fridge, I had seen the pump things that you connect up to the sank to clean the lines. Means you needed to remove the faucet to do that. Always seemed like a PITA to me.
 
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Michele Craft

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Huh I assumed all systems required the faucets to come off for cleaning anyway. Didn't even think there was an option to not do that.
 

Golddiggie

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You can either clean from the front, or back (faucet or keg) ends. I only pull my faucets when I feel the need. Since I have six on my keezer collar and really don't want to get onto them with the wrench since the spacing makes that less than easy (not hard, but not easy). With forward sealing faucets a lot of the issues you have with the non-forward sealing goes away. So don't go cheap on the faucets. I like the Perlicks I have the most. Followed by the straight up stout faucets (three of each type on my keezer).
 

Golddiggie

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Then I would look to clean/sanitize from the keg side. From time to time you can remove the faucets and clean them out. But the need to do that won't be nearly what you appear to be thinking. I would only strip down my Perlicks, or others, if I'm going to be taking the entire keezer offline for an extended time. If a line is going to remain vacant for more than a few days, I simply fill it with StarSan and walk away. I actually haven't had something on every tap in the keezer yet (built it late last year).
 

matt_m

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I have a pond pump that has a short hose off the top that terminates in a ball lock post. I drop that in pitcher of hot water and then Starsan for a light cleaning or start with BLC when a good cleaning is needed. I just open the tap and let it run into another pitcher or reciculate to the same pitcher (BLC/Starsan.)

You'd have to figure out how to terminate that hose in the proper fitting and remove the line from your sanke couplers.
 

micraftbeer

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Here's my story. I was doing a product review on a Cannular canning machine. I was taking pictures to compare carbonation of beer that I had previously canned, to beer I just poured out of my keezer. Seeing the two beers side by side, I could see the telltale haze that if I saw it in a beer in a bar/restaurant, I could immediately tell it was a lazy bar that wasn't cleaning their lines and I was going to get a beer with a slightly vinegary tang to it. I had become that lazy bar that didn't know how to treat beer. I had gotten lazy on my cleaning standards, and thought "As long as I'm continually flowing beer, it won't go stagnant", so I was cleaning maybe every month or two.
Keezer Draft on Right From Unclean Lines, Canned Beer on Right.jpg

I went and downloaded/read the Draught Beer Quality Manual from the Brewer's Association (it's a free PDF download) and read it. These were the key points I extracted and how I now handle:

1. Recirc is better than sitting/soaking.
2. You want flow rate to be faster than beer pouring rate.
3. First rinse with water, then circulate your cleaner for about 15 minutes, then purge with water.
4. Use alkaline cleaner as regular cleaner. Every 4th or 5th cleaning use acid based.
5. Clean every 2 weeks.

1. I use a submersible pump.
2. My pump is rated at 1100 gph (Amazon link), but to be honest, I don't know if I saw a lot of difference on flow rate versus 400 gph pumps. I have those cool Brew Hardware fittings to connect ball locks together, but the flow rate is way too slow to meet the Draught Quality guidelines. I still use the posts, but just to put in the disconnect so the cleaner runs out of it and into the bucket as I hang the draft line over the side of my keezer. In through Perlick/Intertaps, then out the disconnect line.
3. I follow instructions.
4. I've tried different cleaners and priced them. The one I use that works well and is the cheapest (because BLC was just too expensive to clean my lines regularly) I get from MoreBeer- Liquid Line Cleaner. It costs $15/32 oz, and its mix ratio is 1 oz per gallon of water. Most everything else is like 1 oz per quart or 1 oz per half gallon. Then every now and then when purging a keg that's filled with Star San, I just hook it up and run it through.
5. I don't keep track of this per se, but I probably go no longer than 4 weeks. I do all the lines at one time, not necessarily just if their keg is kicked.
 
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Michele Craft

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I think where I'm confused is if I feed in thru tap 1 (left most) and out thru tap 4 and use a jumper on 2/3, how do things get connected on the keg side? So I can take off the couplers and I'll have ball locks on all those lines since I'm putting ball lock posts on sanke kegs. But something has to jumper back there too (1/2 and 3/4)

I have an old bilge pump I figure I can use to pump stuff in as needed.
 
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Michele Craft

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Now that I think about it more, since I'm using all duotight on my Eva line, I could probably just pull the line from the ball lock and put a "jumper" duotight fitting on as needed for the 2 jumps in the freezer.
 

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First, a warm water rinse of the beer line and faucet using a small pond pump submerged in a plastic bowl. Then, a 15 minute (minimum) recirculation with Beer Line Cleaner (BLC). If really dirty, then repeat again with fresh BLC solution. Next, a rinse with warm water, then lastly a star-san rinse and drain. Ball lock taken apart, rinsed, and then soaked in BLC, reassembled and then a star-san bath. Everything is then reconnected, clean and sanitized, for the next keg.

This procedure is completed every single time a keg is finished. No exceptions. Think of it like your dinner plate - would you wash it after the last feast, or just re-use it dirty as-is for the next meal?
 

micraftbeer

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I think where I'm confused is if I feed in thru tap 1 (left most) and out thru tap 4 and use a jumper on 2/3, how do things get connected on the keg side?
If you have a strong enough pump to get the flow through multiple lines, you can use this:

Or, like you said, with duo tight you can just put in a jumper. But the ball lock jumper from BrewHardware gets your ball lock and duo tight cleaned if you leave them connected.
 

Bago-0

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I use the hand pump through the faucet connection and pump beer line cleaner through it. Let the cleaner sit in the line for 10 min then flush with water. While ding this I soak the taps in the cleaner and brush them. Rinse everything and hook back up
 
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Michele Craft

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Seems like there's some pretty mixed opinions on whether or not you need constant movement of the cleaner in the lines over a certain amount of time at a certain flow, vs filling them up and letting them sit with cleaner in them. Seems like non circulating would be "easiest" and since I'd have ball lock connections on all lines, I could pump in from the faucet connection and have it hold in the line with the ball lock connection which is probably the most simple option if it's adequate. Then the faucets and couplers could just be cleaned on their own. Tho I also like the recirc option (making sure to switch which direction the flow goes each time).
 

micraftbeer

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If I remember right, I think in that Draught Quality Manual it notes circulating is superior, but does give some time recommendations for circulating vs soaking.

Plus, I consider the source and their motivations when reading stuff online. DQM is put out by Brewer's Association, that represents craft beer brewers. It's not a sales pamphlet by some beer line cleaning company. And it's better than the anecdotal "...and I haven't had any problems."
 
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Michele Craft

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I actually just watched this video which explains the process well and he talks about extended times for soaking but that recirc is always preferred. My plan is to go that route and either use the bilge pump I have on hand or grab a fish tank one. Likely grab a new one since I do sometimes use the bilge on hand for winterizing the boat if the dealer isn't doing it.


Just need to see what connections/how I need to go from pump barb to faucet and then once line length is established, I'll know the volume of liquid I'm dealing with for proper concentration.
 

odie

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I use a small 1+ gal keg. I fill partially with very hot water and tap it and flush. I do this between every keg. cleans my line and faucet. The ball lock fitting gets dunked in a pot of very hot water. I will probably add some BLC next time.
 

day_trippr

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Hadn't. Hopefully didn't wake The Spousal Unit watching it this first time ;)
There have been a couple of pumped cleaner rig threads here - I still have a pair of them with ball lock posts.
But, to be frank, when you have six faucets, a hand-pumped cleaning rig is going to be too tiresome to be used as often as it should be.
At that point one looks for a strong submersible pump and input and output manifolds...

Cheers!
 

matt_m

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I paid $5 for my pond pump. Actually the pump for a Ridgid tile saw. But that was at an outlet store.

Realistically either is probably more in the $25 range every day. My first tap cleaner was a cheaper handheld sprayer which didn't work real well and didn't last very long before a plastic part broke. I've used the pond pump ever since.
 

iamjeffk

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Hadn't. Hopefully didn't wake The Spousal Unit watching it this first time ;)
There have been a couple of pumped cleaner rig threads here - I still have a pair of them with ball lock posts.
But, to be frank, when you have six faucets, a hand-pumped cleaning rig is going to be too tiresome to be used as often as it should be.
At that point one looks for a strong submersible pump and input and output manifolds...

Cheers!
Yeah I suppose it's a matter of scale. I only have two taps and clean the lines after every keg but that's only like one every two weeks or so. I've been using it for about a year with no issues. If I had three times more taps though, I'm sure I'd be looking for something else.
 

danimal92sport

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I’ve got 4 taps and use the hand pump from the shank side and BLC method. The faucets come apart and soak in the BLC that comes out of the lines and then get a hot water rinse before reassembly. Recirculating is surely better, but this has worked for me so far. I do one line at a time, as I do it when a keg kicks vs some planned time when I’d take them all apart to clean (which would surely be mid-keg for some of them). I don’t starsan after a water rinse, but perhaps I should. I do starsan the beer out post and ball lock connector.

Dan
 
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Michele Craft

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Getting ready to get some beer pouring and I'm assuming tho lines and all are brand new I should do a sanitizing cycle of everything? I got alkaline and acid so I'd do the alkaline thru everything and then I guess spray the diluted star San I mixed into a spray bottle on the taps themselves to be sure?
 
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Michele Craft

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2. My pump is rated at 1100 gph (Amazon link), but to be honest, I don't know if I saw a lot of difference on flow rate versus 400 gph pumps. I have those cool Brew Hardware fittings to connect ball locks together, but the flow rate is way too slow to meet the Draught Quality guidelines. I still use the posts, but just to put in the disconnect so the cleaner runs out of it and into the bucket as I hang the draft line over the side of my keezer. In through Perlick/Intertaps, then out the disconnect line.
Well we got everything hooked up and went to try pushing water thru 4 taps and no dice. I have an aquarium pump linked above and put it up on a table next to the keezer so I wasn't pushing from the floor up 52ish inches to the tap. Pump into tap 1. Jumper up top on 2/3 and 1/2 and 3/4 were connected with the ball lock qd noted above inside. Barely a dribble out of tap 4. Almost looked like an air lock but we made sure the line out of tap 4 wasn't making a p trap or anything. Lines are 10' long (I know they'll be shorter when we put beer in since I have Eva 4mm line but this was just a test with water). Wouldn't figure that should be an issue. Thought maybe the jumper given the note above but I pulled the lines out of the freezer and just had water in tap 1 and out line 1 with the ball lock qd on it and it came out well. For giggles tomorrow I'm going to try in on tap 1, out on 2 and jumper 1/2. Maybe 4 is just too much for the pump? Or ball lock to ball lock is too restrictive as noted above? Which I guess the test will show me. I'm seriously tempted to try with a bilge pump as I'd love to do 4 taps at once but I won't pay for the micromatic type pumps.
 

day_trippr

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"Line resistance matters", and forty feet of 4mm ID tubing is going to have hella high resistance :)
Go parallel...

Cheers!
 

day_trippr

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"Did I stutter?"
(Lol! That's a line from The Breakfast Club and I've been waiting forever to use it :D)

But, yes, parallel: I run a 6 tap t-tower and even back in the "12 feet of 3/16" ID tubing per tap" days trying to recirculate cleaner through all of that tubing was never going to work in a serial fashion. So I had Matt's crew at chicompany.net cook up a "sanitizing manifold" with enough ball lock posts to fit all of my QDs plus an input liquid post and a gas input post. Looks like this (excuse the following horrible pictures, I think I have better ones but damned if I can find them right now):

1621914990726.png


In use it looks like this:

1621915346136.png


Then I used a bunch of PVC fittings to cobble up a return manifold that looks like this:

1621915207729.png


With all that in place I use a pair of 5 gallon buckets with a decent pond pump to rinse the lines out, then recirculate BLC or LLC (whichever I have in stock) for 20 minutes or so, then rinse it all back out, then I can plug a gas QD on the same input manifold and blow out any residual liquid if desired. Cleans everything from QDs through flow meters through beer lines through faucets...

Cheers!
 

Knightshade

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I’m hardly an authority, but this is my process.

I’ve got a 4 tap keg with duotight lines. When a keg kicks, ill take my dedicated big sprayer with a carbonation cap and push about 1/2G of tap water through the line. Then I put an aquarium pump into a bucket full of BLC. That pump has a ball lock connector on the end. I take a small piece of evabarrier line which has a carbonation cap on both ends. One end connects to pump, other connects to the ball lock. Shove a piece of line onto faucet and let it run back into the bucket. Let it recirc for at least 15 minutes. Guess it depends of if I get distracted doing something else.

Hook up bug sprayer again, flush about 1/2G of tap water.

Repeat bucket process, this time with Star San.

Hook up big sprayer again, this time with RO and when Star San is fully flushed, call it good. When new keg is ready, flush lines with Star San with bug sprayer. Hook up keg, flush out Star San and enjoy.

Honestly…today I’ve been distracted all day with floating thoughts trying to figure out how I can NOT have to disassemble my damn faucets for cleaning EVERY flippin time because I like having the self returning springs in there. Because I evidently like to torque my faucets a little too hard when I’m putting them back together..which can cause the lines inside the tower to push against each other……which can cause a leak……and I can’t just walk away as deceived above with the springs in place…..*sigh*
 
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Michele Craft

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"Did I stutter?"
(Lol! That's a line from The Breakfast Club and I've been waiting forever to use it :D)

But, yes, parallel: I run a 6 tap t-tower and even back in the "12 feet of 3/16" ID tubing per tap" days trying to recirculate cleaner through all of that tubing was never going to work in a serial fashion. So I had Matt's crew at chicompany.net cook up a "sanitizing manifold" with enough ball lock posts to fit all of my QDs plus an input liquid post and a gas input post. Looks like this (excuse the following horrible pictures, I think I have better ones but damned if I can find them right now):

View attachment 730179

In use it looks like this:

View attachment 730181

Then I used a bunch of PVC fittings to cobble up a return manifold that looks like this:

View attachment 730180

With all that in place I use a pair of 5 gallon buckets with a decent pond pump to rinse the lines out, then recirculate BLC or LLC (whichever I have in stock) for 20 minutes or so, then rinse it all back out, then I can plug a gas QD on the same input manifold and blow out any residual liquid if desired. Cleans everything from QDs through flow meters through beer lines through faucets...

Cheers!
Born in 76 and just saw breakfast club all the way thru within the last year, shocking I know!

So doing it your way makes a lot of sense now that I see it. All gets done at once but nothing has to take a super long path. how strong is your pump? It seems so weird that my 1100 gpm pump can't push thru the 40 or so feet of line but I guess resistance really does matter. Makes me wonder why they don't rate pumps by their push power VS just gpm. Even my bilge pump I think it's only 2000gpm so I'll be curious to see if doing 2 at a time will work.
 

micraftbeer

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Makes me wonder why they don't rate pumps by their push power VS just gpm.
Actually, they do, it can just be hard to find. They rate them with "head" or "lift", with a distance in feet (or meters). You can then find info on internet on equivalent head/lift different lines give you per linear foot.

I did the calculation once while comparing pumps for recirculating wort through a wort chiller. So armed with the knowledge of this rating and calculation method, I've frequently asked myself why I don't research and do the math on my keezer line cleaning pump, and I get no good answers... I guess just pure laziness.
 
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Michele Craft

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Actually, they do, it can just be hard to find. They rate them with "head" or "lift", with a distance in feet (or meters). You can then find info on internet on equivalent head/lift different lines give you per linear foot.
I guess I aways thought head was purely feet above pump it could push, that's why I put the pump up on a table so it was closer to top but if it's a cumulative thing, then the 4 lines up and down yeah I'd be high. Wondering if coiling them up so they don't hang so low would help the cause, or pulling them out straighter when we were testing them outside the keezer to see what happened. There I had them hanging down so that may not have helped.
 

micraftbeer

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I'm looking for the website with info for calculation but the head is a measure of how many feet above pump it could push, so it is equivalently a pump output pressure. Think of that as your "pump bank account". You then "pay bills" for: 1) Distance from your pump output up to the highest height in your system, 2) Length of beer lines it has to pump through (smaller diameter lines have higher flow restriction so come at a higher "cost"), 3) Joints/restrictions in addition to the lines (beer faucet, each connection from ball lock to another ball lock, etc).

If you add up all your "bills" and it exceeds your "pump bank account", you just get a trickle, or nothing at all coming out. You then have to either reduce your bills (connect less lines), or get a bigger bank account by finding a pump with a higher head pressure/lift.
 
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Michele Craft

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Yeah I think it's like 2.31 as the factor in the calculation if I recall (tried to forget fluid drnamics from college)
 

micraftbeer

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At risk of being pummeled mercilessly by forum hawks, I plugged in some numbers into an online head pressure calculator I found at Hazen-Williams Equation - calculating Head Loss in Water Pipes

I used the 4 mm ID beer line, the approximate length of my beer lines (5 ft), estimated roughness coefficient based on some tabular data for various materials, I then iterated to a flow rate that matched the head pressure rating of my pump (11 ft). That was a flow rate of 0.5 gallons/minute, which is about right for what I get when cleaning keezer lines one at a time.

Screenshot 2021-05-25 115238.jpg


Note that the Quality Draft Manual suggests you want your cleaning recirc to be about 2x your normal pouring speed, which would be about 1.5 gpm. As reference, my Blichmann RipTide pump (which would require a different setup arrangement than just a sump pump in a bucket of cleaner) has a head pressure of 21 ft. At this same flowrate, I could do 10 ft of lines.
 
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