A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tips

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ihomebrewing
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A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tips

Post #1 by ihomebrewing » 6 years ago

KEG PRESSURE BASICS

You can serve your beer from anywhere between 5 to 15 psi.

I usually try to stick with around 12 psi, because too low, and your CO2 equilibrium carbonation level will decrease, and your beer will be out of style. The one exception is filling growlers, where I drop the pressure to 5 psi, to stop foaming when filling such a large bottle. I then return to 'storage pressure', which may or may not be my serving pressure...

If you are purging your keg before serving, you are essentially, serving and maintaining your beer at different pressures. This is an acceptable practice, but is a real pain.

What you need to do here is get your system in BALANCE. That is, to equal out the keg pressure with serving resistance pressures...

BEER LINE BASICS

Your first priority is to buy yourself some decent food grade serving line, and replace it whenever you clean your draft system. The old line you have is no good anymore.

Next, you need to choose a serving line inside diameter (ID).

3/16" ID line has 'about' 2 psi resistance per foot of length
1/4" ID line has 'about' 1 psi resistance per foot

These numbers are a 'rough' guideline to balancing your system. There are many other factors as well.

THE TAP

One factor is the tap itself. A typical shaft/tap setup will be about 4 psi of added resistance. We will assume about the same for a picnic 'cobra' tap.

The next factor is height. You can add 1/2 a psi for each vertical foot that your tap is above the keg.

THE CALCULATION

So, our calculation would go something like this:

you want to serve at 12 psi, and your tap is level with the keg. You need to balance 12 psi resistance from your regulator, so add 4 psi for your faucet. that leaves 8 psi left. So use 4 feet of 3/16" beer line, or about 8 feet of 1/4".

NOTE: I use 1/4" ID line, and found that about 6 to 7 feet is the proper length...That's why those numbers are just estimates. When I run a couple kegs through my lines, I may change them, and try adding or subtracting from the length of my new lines...

THE SERVING TEMPERATURE

Temperature is another factor that will affect the foaming of your pour. Always store your serving beer below 40 deg F

THE POUR

Pouring habits are yet another foamy factor. A good example is forcing a head onto a beer. You pour normal, and the beer is not equilibrated, but you want a nice head, so near the end of the pour, you bring the valve to near closed position, causing agitation, and a deceptively perfect pour. Proper pouring is opening the valve as fast, and as fully as possible, and depending upon how the beer is pouring, either pouring carelessly (to get a bit more foam), or pouring down the side of the glass (to reduce foaming).

THE CONCLUSION

If you have read through this far, you now realize that there is no magical formula that will give you the perfect pour. Everyone's system is different, and pouring conditions will not only change between different kegs, and styles of beer that you serve, but will change even as you are emptying the current keg that you have on tap.

These guidelines WILL, however get you in the ball park to serving the perfect pint.

Keep those beer glasses clean, and invite your friends over for some 'keg serving practice sessions!'

Cheers,

The Innovation Homebrewing Team
ihomebrewing.ca
Skinner
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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #2 by Skinner » 6 years ago

Great post, should be a sticky. I might add one important point to the "Beer Line Basics" section - make damned sure your cobra tab is secured to the serving line with a clamp! ;-)

Cheers!
K
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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #3 by blacktiebrewing » 6 years ago

Great post and perfect timing. Just finished setting up my new (to me) kegs and jockey box for a bbq. Now I can work on balancing, even if it means
having a few pints. ;)
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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #4 by Administrator » 6 years ago

Skinner wrote:Great post, should be a sticky. I might add one important point to the "Beer Line Basics" section - make damned sure your cobra tab is secured to the serving line with a clamp! ;-)

Cheers!
K


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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #5 by Jack » 6 years ago

Great info, my first batch in a keg had no head but the bottles from the same batch had a decent amount. I'll try this as soon as i get home.
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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #6 by birvine » 5 years ago

I had built my kegerator and coffin box with standard faucets and everything worked fine. Then I upgraded to Perlick faucets and I got glasses of foam and a wee bit of flat beer. That is when I had to figure out the balance of the system. I increased the length of the lines to 3 m each and it's been beautiful pouring ever since.

Moral: Changes to your system may upset the balance so be prepared to make some changes. But it is definitely do-able.

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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #7 by bechard » 5 years ago

This guide helped me balance my single keg + cobra tap a few months back when my pressure was a mess of foam.

Thanks!
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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #8 by TRG » 4 years ago

birvine wrote:I had built my kegerator and coffin box with standard faucets and everything worked fine. Then I upgraded to Perlick faucets and I got glasses of foam and a wee bit of flat beer. That is when I had to figure out the balance of the system. I increased the length of the lines to 3 m each and it's been beautiful pouring ever since.

Moral: Changes to your system may upset the balance so be prepared to make some changes. But it is definitely do-able.

Brent


I had the same thing happen. Standard faucets = short beer lines. Perlick's = much longer needed. Perlick's must have less resistance. Very good info here!

Thanks.
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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #9 by kombat » 4 years ago

Your first priority is to buy yourself some decent food grade serving line, and replace it whenever you clean your draft system. The old line you have is no good anymore.


This has been a really useful thread, but do I really have to throw away and replace my serving line every time I clean/replace my keg? Can't I just clean the line like I clean the rest of my system?
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Re: A beginner's Guide to 'The Perfect Pour' Keg Serving Tip

Post #10 by Tony » 4 years ago

kombat wrote:
Your first priority is to buy yourself some decent food grade serving line, and replace it whenever you clean your draft system. The old line you have is no good anymore.


This has been a really useful thread, but do I really have to throw away and replace my serving line every time I clean/replace my keg? Can't I just clean the line like I clean the rest of my system?



You could. I did that for a few years but quickly found out when I finally changed my lines, how much better my beer was changing out the lines vs cleaning them. Now I change them every year with cleaning every keg change.
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