A draft system is an essential part of any commercial or home brewery. If you’re considering a building or upgrading your own draft system, there are many things to consider. The following are just a few of the most important considerations for building or updating a draft system:
Determine what kind of draft system you want
Compact systems are great for smaller spaces and are easier to install, but they can also be more expensive and have limited upgrade options. For example, when it comes time to replace lines or other parts in your kegerator or keezer build, you may find that you’ll need to replace the whole thing instead of just the broken part.
Portable models come in various shapes and sizes, from small dorm fridges with four taps to full-size commercial units with dozens. Regardless of which type you choose, ensure it has enough refrigeration power.
Determine if your existing draft system requires modifications or an entirely new system
Determining if your existing draft beer system requires modifications or an entirely new system is the first step in deciding what type of draft system to build or update. If your existing system is older than ten years old, it may need replacing, and you should consider whether it would be more cost-effective to replace it with a new one rather than updating the existing one. If your current draft system is relatively new, you may want to add some features that are not available on your current unit.
Determine the size of your draft system
The size of your draft system depends on the number of kegs you want to serve. If you only have a small business or if there are not many employees, one tap may be sufficient for you. However, multiple taps may be necessary if your establishment serves many guests at once and/or has a large staff. In this case, starting with a single-tap system is best, and adding more taps later if needed.
When building a draft system, consider how long the line will be. Typically, you want a line that can fit all of your faucets and airlocks, but the line shouldn’t be so long that it’s cumbersome to use. Most home brew systems have a three-line system, while commercial systems have up to 20 lines. The most important thing is to get a draft system that will suit your needs but not become a burden as time goes on.
Trunk line diameter
If you’re looking to install a draft system that will keep your beer at the perfect temperature for serving, you’ll need to consider how enormous or small a trunk line you can fit between the keezer and the faucet. How big of a diameter trunk line are you able to fit? If it’s too small, you’ll lose temperature and pressure in your beer, seriously compromising your pour.
Glycol power pack
While some draft systems can be relatively simple and low-tech, there are a few considerations to consider when building or updating your system. One of the most important factors is the power source. Most draft systems use a glycol power pack to cool the keg, with the beer being cooled by a heat exchanger in the glycol loop. The most common types are the self-contained unit that houses both the pump and the cooling unit, with some exceptions, such as those that use a chiller unit mounted behind the tap or a system that connects to a standard three-way refrigerator.
There are two main types of towers. These include the single-faucet and double-faucet. Single-faucet towers have one valve at the bottom of the tower that can be either open or closed. A double-faucet tower has a lever on the side that can open and close each faucet individually. The benefit of the double-faucet tower is that it allows for more flexibility in serving. If one keg is kicked, but another has a lot left, you could use one faucet to serve and close off the other so it won’t be wasted. The single-faucet tower is cheaper and easier to use, so it’s perfect for smaller draft systems.
Finally, building a draft system can be daunting, particularly if you’re building it from scratch. You’ll want to consider various factors to ensure you’re getting the most out of your build. Be sure to apply the tips above.