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  1. #1
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    Keg Setup Question

    Question for those who know about keg setups, both Home and commercial. Does the amount of line between the Keg and the Tap affect how much foam you can get in the lines and pours? One of the store Locations that I support as an IT person has one tap that is consistently foamy and the employees say this is why there is waste on the kegs used there. Someone told the Operations Manager that any lines shorter than 8 feet will push foam to the tap handle, but when 8 feet or longer the foam backs up in the line and allows only beer to come out at the tap. I have very little experience with Tap lines, but I know many of you guys do. Any suggestions? Would 8 feet and longer make a difference in foaming up? Thanks.
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  2. #2
    I eat cats
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    My Kegerator at home definitely has lines shorter than 8ft and I don't have foam issues. For me it's all about the CO2 pressure which I run differently for different beers. I do get more foam on my first pour but I always have a pitcher to catch that first then fill my glass (and I'm talking a tiny bit).

    I remember when I lived next to an Irish bar in Boston that was known for a good Guinness pour had their kegs directly below the bar to have the shortest lines possible... But that was Guinness so not sure if that's something to do with the nitrogen versus CO2.
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  3. #3
    I eat cats
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    Also, hit up a Homebrew forum if you are on one. Those guys know everything about this stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
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  4. #4
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    Once you start getting too long on your lines you will see the pros have refrigerated lines. Cold liquid hitting warm lines pretty well gaurantee you foam. If you have just moved your keg i.e. rolled it, set it down, transported it we would always allow at least 8 hours before tapping it. Any sooner foam.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
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    My lines are 3-4ft in length, I would think that anything more is wasteful personally. I would check the connections everywhere to make sure there isn't a slow pressure leak. While it's true that colder temps will hold more CO2 or nitrogen in solution, I can't imagine room temp lines would cause a release of gaseous CO2. Perhaps if the lines have been recently sanitized with warm or hot sanitizing solution? It is true that shaken beer will foam more, but if it's cold and under pressure I don't think there would be significant amounts passed the first pour. When one of m buddies was a bar back he changed many a keg and I drank many a first pour and I don't remember it being an issue after the first couple glasses. Perhaps there is something in the line, at a connection or in the faucet that is causing cavitation? This is curious, I'll try to look over some of my reference materials and get back.
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  6. #6
    I eat cats
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    I just thought of something in regards to this.. The Yard House has kegs in a glass room with the lines running dozens of ft, if not over 100ft, to the bar (at least the ones I have been to). I get good pours from their taps at the one I go to across from my office often. I guess my point is that I think with the right setup/tweaks, any line length can work. Not sure if the line length is the problem at that place. Maybe they need to check it over and reset the pressure.
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  7. #7
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    [QUOTE=Klurejr;10884160]Question for those who know about keg setups, both Home and commercial. Does the amount of line between the Keg and the Tap affect how much foam you can get in the lines and pours?

    Yes. Hose diameter, pressure and length all matter. (Temp changes over the length matter too but are usually overcome after 1-2 beers if pouring regularly).

    There are formulas to calculate what L and P are close to right for the diameter hose used. Then you can dial in to your system. 8' would be a really long run for a typical homebrew setup.
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  8. #8
    Plays with tools
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    Line length isn't there problem, it's temperature difference. When cold beer runs into something warm it foams. That something warm can be part of the beer line that's running outside of refrigeration or the head of the tap itself that's sitting at room temperature. This is why the first beer almost always has foam, and why my kegorator foams worse in the summer than in winter (it's in the garage)

    Breweries and beer halls run long beer lines all the time and they don't have a problem.

  9. #9
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    Here's the long answer to your question. Beer dispensed through a draught system can become foamy for many reasons. Somebody touched on the temperature of the line- which if it is warm, it could produce a foamy pour. If the tap line stays cold, obviously this isn't the problem. Also, if there are any fittings that could allow beer to seep out when not in use, the air in the lines will create foam when the tap is opened. As for how the system is designed, there are many things to take into consideration. When building or troubleshooting a draught system, you need to take into consideration the length of the beer line, what it is made of (vinyl, stainless, etc), the inside diameter of the line, the rise of the line the amount of pressure needed to keep the beer carbonated at the temperature that the beer is being stored at and what type of gas is being used to push the beer (CO2, Nitro, Nitro/CO2 Blend). If they're using straight CO2 to push the beer, and the tap isn't used often, the CO2 can dissolve into the beer. "Beer Gas" is a blend of nitrogen and CO2 that is used to in most bars/pubs to avoid the over-carbonation issues associated with standard CO2. Clear as mud?

    In short, if you PM me with the length of the line, the rise, the inside diameter, the temperature of the cooler, what type of gas is being used and the pressure of the gas, I can probably figure it out pretty quick. I wish it was as easy as a simple formula, but it isn't.
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  10. #10
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    ^^^ exactly.

    But we use a 6 ft "Jumper line" at about 9-12 lbs of pressure on a well used tap with great success. The line is cooled the entire length of the run.

    I've also designed a multiple tap system with on 95 foot and another 65 foot line with a y split half way. For these, there are complex calculations regarding CO2/Nitro blend, restriction, rise or fall, pressure and temp. Luckily, you don't have to worry about that.

    Try a 6 foot jumper of 3/8ths inch tubing. Experiment with pressure settings, but it shouldn't take long to figure it out. Make sure the fridge is colder than 38ºF. Take the temp of the beer poured too.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bipolarbear View Post
    ^^^ exactly.

    But we use a 6 ft "Jumper line" at about 9-12 lbs of pressure on a well used tap with great success. The line is cooled the entire length of the run.

    I've also designed a multiple tap system with on 95 foot and another 65 foot line with a y split half way. For these, there are complex calculations regarding CO2/Nitro blend, restriction, rise or fall, pressure and temp. Luckily, you don't have to worry about that.

    Try a 6 foot jumper of 3/8ths inch tubing. Experiment with pressure settings, but it shouldn't take long to figure it out. Make sure the fridge is colder than 38ºF. Take the temp of the beer poured too.
    I've built and maintained systems from the basic jockey box to a pub with 16 handles, 4 of which being able to run off of serving vessels behind the bar or off of kegs over 100' away, the rest of the lines spanning 100' or more. I'm not saying experimentation doesn't sometimes work, but there is a method to the madness. There's many factors to include, but if you take the time to figure it out right, it's better than beer down the drain...
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you’ll crash.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by woahey View Post
    I've built and maintained systems from the basic jockey box to a pub with 16 handles, 4 of which being able to run off of serving vessels behind the bar or off of kegs over 100' away, the rest of the lines spanning 100' or more. I'm not saying experimentation doesn't sometimes work, but there is a method to the madness. There's many factors to include, but if you take the time to figure it out right, it's better than beer down the drain...
    Yeah, I was agreeing with you and trying to give some extra advice on trouble shooting.

    Short runs should be relatively easy to manage. It's the long runs that gave us problems, especially with kegs. Serving tanks, no problem.

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