What are the benefits of serving draft beer versus bottled beer? When stored properly, kegs enhance the integrity of the beer by ensuring freshness and allowing the natural flavors to shine through. Kegs also limit the beer's exposure to light and fluctuating temperatures, as well as help monitor when the beer was received. Below are some tips and techniques to properly store draft beer.
The optimal temperature to store and serve draft beer is 36-38 degrees Fahrenheit. Most draft beers are not pasteurized, so they must be kept cold the entire time, even during the transit from the distributor to the final storage/serving facility. If the temperature is too high, the beer will foam and lose flavor. If temperatures exceed 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria will start to grow and cloud the beer. Conversely, beer that is stored too cold will taste flat because the carbon dioxide is retained and is not able to release the true flavors. It's important to keep in mind that it's the temperature of the beer that must be consistent; a 36-38 degree cooler does not necessarily mean the content inside the keg is that temperature. Keeping a liquid thermometer is key in ensuring the beer's degree is accurate and consistent. To measure the liquid content, dispense a small amount of beer into a glass and insert the liquid thermometer into the filled glass.
Here are a few crucial storage tips to ensure the draft beer's quality and sanitation:
- Store kegs in a walk-in cooler or refrigerated cabinet.
- To guarantee temperature stays cold and consistent, limit the amount of traffic going in and out of the walk-in cooler. Invest in plastic freezer strip doors to keep the cool air in.
- When replacing kegs, use the first-in-first-out method to keep beer fresh.
- Store kegs away from food products.
- Keep kegs and serving areas clean to avoid contamination of draft products.
- Routinely clean and maintain tap lines.