Draft system maintenance is a necessary aspect of selling and serving draft beer. The most important part is the routine cleaning of draft beer systems. This is necessary to prevent the build up of bacteria, yeast, mold and calcium (beer stone). Although all of these are harmless, all of these can cause off taste, poor smell, particles floating in beer, poor system performance and unsatisfied customers.
It is very important to maintain clean beer lines, faucets, couplers etc. depending on your volume, cleaning should be performed at a minimum of once every two weeks, as all breweries, beer wholesalers, and most local health departments recommend. Without cleaning bacteria, mold and yeast will grow and you will have calcium build up at nine to fourteen days.
There are a variety of cleaning systems and methods. Cleaning pots which utilize the CO2 pressure to force the cleaning solution through the beer lines. They are essentially small kegs filled with a cleaning solution that temporarily replace beer kegs, and work well for short run systems and systems where the beer is pumped. Electric pumps are desirable for long draw systems, and systems that have been neglected. Their high pressure and pulsating action work very well, while pushing the cleaning solution through. Pushing a sponge through the beer lines is also used. Some line cleaning companies do not use a cleaning solution when using the sponge method, this is not recommended method as the couplers get missed or skipped and it does not do a quality job. All methods (after cleaning) are then rinsed thoroughly before putting beer back into the lines.
Cleaning compounds or chemicals come in liquids and powders containing one or a mixture of Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Detergent, and Phosphoric Acid. All are designed for and safe for the cleaning of beer lines.