Draft Beer Systems

Drawn from a large container like a keg, these systems can handle anywhere from 1 to more than 200 different beer varieties.


A Guide to Beer & Wine Systems

Beer and wine systems not only provide added convenience and increased efficiency when serving these beverages but they can also ensure consistency in every pour.

Beer dispensing systems efficiently supply drafts in conjunction with refrigeration equipment that stores beverages at the optimum 36 degrees F and between 38 degrees F and 40 degrees F while serving.

Wine kegs hold the equivalent of 26 bottles. Because no corks need pulling, serving wine on tap may improve speed of service and minimize labor. These systems can hold two different white wine varieties at required temperatures in the low 40s to low 50s and two reds between 55 degrees F and 65 degrees F. Also, because dispensed wine is exposed to a limited amount of air, unlike bottled wine, there is less waste and quality issues.

The type and size of system an operation needs will depend on how much beer and wine will be on tap, the distance between the bar and kegs/cooler, and if beer or wine will be dispensed with nitrogen. Kegs for both beverages typically last 90 days and can be easily changed in and out.

Operators can choose between two beer and wine systems. The first type, direct draw, is a simple, self-contained system with between one and four doors, in addition to a dispensing tower and beer and/or wine taps on top. These units typically reside behind the bar and require a dedicated spot.

The growing popularity of brewers supplying beer in one-sixth size or “skinny” kegs makes it easier for establishments to offer a wide range of beer selections. With a smaller diameter of about 9 inches, as many as four skinny kegs can fit into one door of a direct-draw cooler compared to one standard-size keg.

Larger operations with more extensive bar service may want to consider remote beer and wine dispensing systems. Unlike direct draw, these units house the beverages in a dedicated walk-in cooler not directly adjacent to the serving area. Remote systems work with insulated trunk lines in the floor or ceiling carrying beer and wine from the containers in the cooler directly to the tap. The number of lines varies, depending on the different types of beverages served. In addition, separate lines circulate chilled glycol through the bundle to keep beer and wine cold. A separate refrigeration unit, referred to as a line chiller or power pack, cools with a glycol bath and utilizes a pump to circulate the glycol through the line set. Because kegs can be run in a series with these units, these don’t have to be changed out as often as with direct-draw systems.

With a remote-draw system, the balance between the pressure and temperature must be maintained or beer can become over carbonated and foamy and wine flavor can be compromised. The CO2 exchange during drafting also must remain consistent or beer can become flat over time. As a rule, any air taken out of a keg must be replaced. Also, the distance between the keg and tap determine how much pressure needs to be applied to get the beer and wine to properly tap. During installation, calculations need to be made in terms of the length of the lines and power pack size to achieve the optimum balance.

Remote-draw dispensers are more comprehensive in terms of the required equipment and logistics with installing, in addition to being more costly. The benefits with this type are that valuable space behind the bar is preserved and operators can accommodate more extensive beer offerings.

Wine dispensing systems with storage for bottles and kegs provide from one to three doors. These hold three 1/6 kegs in each tapping compartment, and some models store up to 48 wine bottles.

Another type has individual compartment temperature controls and storage drawers for up to 30 wine bottles. Underbar wine dispensing units have two compartments with independent temperature zones that fit two 1/6 skinny kegs.

Because wine is acidic, all kegs, connectors, faucets and anything that comes in contact with the liquid must be 304 stainless steel. Otherwise, the metal or material will become reactive and impact the flavor.


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