Operators commonly use draft beer systems to maintain or chill beer to a specific temperature while transporting the brew when they cannot locate the keg directly at the bar.
The main factor operators should consider when purchasing a draft beer system is where they plan to store the kegs in relation to the beer taps. “This will determine what kind of system (direct-draw, air-cooled or glycol-cooled) they will need based on the distance from the kegs to the taps,” says Emalee Austerman, project coordinator at Camacho Associates, an Atlanta-based foodservice consulting firm. “Direct-draw systems run directly through the cooler wall to the taps, while air-cooled systems can run up to 25 feet and glycol systems can run up to 500 feet.”
According to Austerman, manufacturers always work to perfect their beer systems’ ability to maintain or chill beer to the ideal temperature from the keg to the tap, whether that be 10, 100 or 500 feet. “This helps reduce beer waste from excess foam when employees serve the beer, which can save the operator significant money over time.”
With draft beer systems, the operator must consider how the beer lines reach the taps. In the case of an air-cooled or glycol system, the operator will need to run the beer conduit either overhead or through the slab using pull boxes. “This requires coordination with electrical, plumbing and HVAC items to avoid conflicts,” says Austerman.
All the various beer systems have their place. When considering the different options, operators need to take into account their specific space requirements (keg and tap locations, routing options, etc.) to determine which option best suits their needs.
Operators should ensure they know the actual routing distance for the beer lines to ensure the proper sizing of the draft beer system. “It could be a direct distance of only 20 feet from the kegs to the taps, but once you factor in the distance to go up and overhead, plus the radius of the conduit sweeps, it could be more like 30 to 40 feet,” says Austerman. “Making sure the system is sized properly ensures that the beer arrives at the tap at the ideal temperature. Also, the draft beer system is an investment that needs to be maintained and cleaned on a regular basis to ensure quality.”