Custom Beverage Services - Certified Micro Matic Dealer/Installer

Beer line cleaning is the most important thing you will do to maintain your draft beer system.

There are a lot of myths revolving around how often and what parts of the beer system need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

Look to the brewer; who best to recommend the proper cleaning schedule. The brewer(s) invested a lot of time and effort to design, brew and market their product; they most certainly have done the math on what will ruin this effort. The Brewers Association is a great reference, made up of more than 1000 breweries with endless amounts of research and development. The Brewers Association is clear on the frequency of beer line cleaning; EVERY 14 DAYS! This is critical to a quality draft beer and to maximizing your revenue. This procedure should not only include cleaning the lines with a caustic chemical but also the removal, dis-assembly and manual cleaning of the faucet and sankey keg coupler.

Please visit this link for “The Facts About Draft System Cleaning”

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t want to drink from a dirty beer system, neither do your customers! We now live in a world of beer snobs; they swish it around in their mouths and sniff it like its wine. If you are trying to save money by cleaning at a frequency of anything less than every 2 weeks, your beer system sucks! Not only are you loosing revenue due to serving an poor quality product, the beer stone building up in your beer system will cause service issues and the system to need to be replaced prematurely. It’s all costing you more than the money you saved on the cleaning.

Gas = Carbonation Level & Waste Control!

You cannot serve a quality draft beer unless you are using the proper gas system.

Gas is used to propel the product from the barrel to the point of dispense. The pour pressure is used to set the pour speed (2oz. per second). The gas is also used to maintain the carbonation level in the product to the specifications the brewer intended.  All beer systems have a set of parameters that will dictate which type of gas system can be used. All carbonated fluids use a combination of temperature and pressure to keep the gas in solution (bubble in the fluid).

If you are using a pre-mixed 75/25 N2/CO₂ gas (better known as Beer Gas) to push and maintain your entire beer system, your beer sucks.  A high Nitrogen content on a carbonated beer will cause the beer to be flat, create waste & lost revenue.

  • The blend of gas needed on a system is determined by the pressure needed to push the beer from its storage point to its dispensing point.  If that pressure is greater than 14psi then you need to blend Nitrogen & CO₂, if it is 14psi or below you can use 100% CO₂.  The ratio of the blend is determined by the dispense pressure and CO₂ Volume in the beer.  For example; a lager pouring at 20psi would require a blend of 70% Co2 & 30% N2 to maintain “as brewer intended” quality.


If you are using 100% CO₂ to push your beer, you cannot exceed 14psi keg pressure or you will over-carbonate the beer.  This will cause excessive foaming (waste) especially towards the bottom of the barrel, making you change the barrel prematurely and loosing revenue.  Over-carbonated beer will also not maintain the “as brewer intended” standard causing the product to taste different than intended.  It can also lead to the customer getting bloated due to the high rate of release of CO₂ in the stomach.

Using the correct gas is critical to not only the quality of the product but it will also reduce the operating cost of the beer system.

The most critical element to a successful remote beer system is temperature.

3 Critical Temperatures

  1. Walk-in cooler/Barrel Storage – Air Temp/Liquid Temp 36°-38°
  2. Pour temperature – most brewers recommend 38°-40°
  3. Glycol unit temp – Static Bath/Flash Chiller.
    Static Bath – Thermostat probe located in fluid bath 28°-31°
    Flash Chiller – Thermostat probe located on the glycol return line 30°-33°

Recording Pour Temperature Accurately


  1. Have a high quality digital thermometer.
  2. When taking a cooler temp you should take a liquid temp, this will better reflect the temp of the beer in the barrel. If you have bottled water in the cooler, open a bottle and take temp. Mark the bottle for future temp readings. If you don’t have bottled water in the cooler, get one and keep it in the cooler for future readings.
  3. When taking a pour temp it is important to follow the following steps;
    • Take a room temp glass, pick a faucet and pour a full beer, then dump.
    • Go back to the same faucet and pour a second full beer in the same glass.
    • Stir the beer for 10-15 seconds with your digital thermometer and record reading.
  4. If your glycol unit does not have a digital thermostat display, find the bath access point, insert the thermometer in to the glycol, wait 10-15 seconds and record reading.


Custom Beverage Services offers Preventative Maintenance Programs that can help your draft beer system maintain the proper temperature to keep your customers satisfied and ordering more!

This is an example of a PVC chase built with electrical PVC that Custom Beverage Services installed to run draft beer lines through. The project was done at a yacht club which stands on wooden pilings and the chase was need to protect the draft beer lines from the elements. Notice the 36″ radius sweep, yes it’s a sweep not a straight 90 or 2-45’s. This is an item you can actually purchase at an electrical supply house. When sweeps are not used the draft beer line bundle can be damaged during installation.

Glycol Recirculating Pump/Rear Seal Leak

This is the most common failure of the glycol pump. After years of service running 24/7 @ 1725 rpm, most pumps will experience a rear seal failure. When this seal fails, the pump will leak glycol very slowly in to the front bearing area of the motor. Eventually this will cause the motor to fail, among other issues.

Even if you catch the pump failure prior to the motor failing, it is recommended that you replace the motor as well. It is a certainty the motor will fail shortly after the pump, these motors have a very low tolerance for moisture exposure to the bearings. Experience has shown us that pumps & motors should be done in pairs.

Take the example of a motor failure but the pump still moves fluid and is not leaking; because the pump has already “worn in”, introducing a new motor with optimum torque and bearing position will cause the pumps vane wheel to deflect to the point it “chatters” on the inner casing. Because the “wheel” is made of graphite, as it wears on the casing it will flood the system with the abrasive graphite particles. If this should happen, it will require a complete glycol replacement, cleaning of the unit bath and flushing of the circ lines. If you have graphite infiltration to the fluid and this procedure is not performed you will continually have premature failure of the pump due to the abrasive particles running through the new pump. The graphite particles will also tend to be deposited in quick bends in the glycol circuit like, u-bends, elbows and tower loops. This restriction adds to the overall operating back-pressure the new pump has to overcome. Pumps running with excessive back-pressure or on high restriction circuits will have a lower life expectancy.

Knowing how things work will save you time and money, besides its just fun to know stuff!

After a recent speaking engagement I had with over 50 bar and restaurant owners at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA, it has come to my attention that some are having issues pouring the product from a keykeg. For those of you that are not familiar with a keykeg, it is a bag-in ball keg. This means the gas entering the ball does not touch the product, it just pushes on the bag holding the product. As we further discussed the dispensing issues it seemed that the problem revolved around the product pouring too slowly. This appears to be due to the fact that the act of condensing the bag technically is adding more restriction to the line, so it would make sense that you would need to slightly increase the pressure to that sankey (1-2 Psi). This will increase the pour speed; remember the
standard target pour speed is 2oz. per second.

The Ins and Outs of Draft Beer

Many operators find that selling beer on tap makes for a more committed customer base as well as a more consistent profit. Anyone can buy bottles or cans in a liquor store; people come to bars to try their old favorites or intriguing new brews from the tap. A draft system can be great for business, but only if you do it properly. There are several types of draft beer systems, including the following:

Direct Draw Draft System

How it works. The direct draw beer dispenser is the most common and simplest system used in commercial beverage service applications. The keg is kept in a cooling unit only a few feet from the dispensing faucet, requiring only about five feet of tubing. The beer is dispensed using CO2 to create pressure and push the beer through the tubing to the beer tower, where it is dispensed.

Making the choice. Choose a direct-draw tap system if you are storing all your kegs beneath the bar as opposed to a walk-in keg cooler in a different room. This is ideal for people running portable bars, such as at outdoor concert or catered banquets, or for bars that only offer one or two beers on tap. This is ideal for people running portable bars, such as at outdoor concert or catered banquets, or for bars that only offer one or two beers on tap.

Air-Cooled Draft System

How it works. This system relies on a walk-in cooler to house the kegs, insulated air ducts to surround the beer tubing, and a fan to circulate cold air from the cooler through the ducts. The circulating cold air maintains the beer lines at a cool temperature. This system works best when kegs are within 25 feet of the tap, and uses significantly more energy than direct draw systems.

Making the choice. This type of system can usually accommodate many kegs of beer and many tap lines, so it would be a good choice for a bar serving several beers on tap. Operators considering this type of system must have the infrastructure in place for a keg-cooler and air ducts, and there should be no more than 25 feet between the cooler and the tap. Bends in the ductwork add distance and may reduce cooling efficiency.

This system relies on a walk-in cooler to house the kegs, insulated air ducts to surround the beer tubing, and a fan to circulate cold air from the cooler through the ducts. The circulating cold air maintains the beer lines at a cool temperature. This system works best when kegs are within 25 feet of the tap, and uses significantly more energy than direct draw systems.

Glycol-Cooled Draft System

How it works. This system employs a Glycol cooler, which circulates Propylene Glycol. This is an organic compound often used as an indirect cooling agent for beer draft systems. The Propylene Glycol circulates through strong, flexible plastic tubing which runs along or around the beer lines, supplying a cooling agent to keep the beer at a constant temperature from the walk-in keg cooler to the tap in the front of the house.

Making the choice. This system is the best choice for operations in which the keg cooler is farther than 25 feet from the bar. Glycol lines can run without the need for ducts, so they can be run just about as far as you need to get them from the keg to the tap.

This system employs a Glycol cooler, which circulates Propylene Glycol. This is an organic compound often used as an indirect cooling agent for beer draft systems. The Propylene Glycol circulates through strong, flexible plastic tubing which runs along or around the beer lines, supplying a cooling agent to keep the beer at a constant temperature from the walk-in keg cooler to the tap in the front of the house.

No matter what system you use in your bar, any draft system can lose money if not properly operated. Whether your beer is too foamy, the keg goes flat or customers are returning beer because of a funny taste, make sure you are operating your draft system to maintain the most possible product and hence make the most money off your investment.

All About Pressure and Gas

We’re not talking about the unhappy side effects of that burrito you had for lunch. For draft beer systems, pressurized gas provides the force behind the tap beer. Gas is important, since too much gas pressure can result in foamy beer, and too low gas pressure can result in flat beer. The type of beer and the type of draft system you use in your bar determines which gas is best to use and how the pressure should be set.

CO2 Gas

CO2, or carbon dioxide, is considered an ingredient in the beer brewing process, and as such it is a natural part of all beers. If the right pressure is not maintained, the beer may become either flat or excessively gassy. For lagers, ales and other light beers, manufacturers suggest using pure CO2 at about 20-25 PSI (pounds per square inch). A five pound tank of CO2 can usually serve about six half-barrel kegs, give or take. This i s the preferable choice since it is not hard to find and sells for less than ten dollars in many regions of the U.S. Keep your CO2 tanks outside the walk-ins if possible; this will extend the life of your CO2.

Nitrogen and CO2 Gas Blend

Some beers are brewed with nitrogen content and require a gas blend of nitrogen and CO2 to propel the beer through a tap system. Perhaps the most recognized nitrogenated beer is Guinness. Since this stout has a low CO2 content, using too much pressurized CO2 can adversely affect a beer’s flavor or consistency. Using a gas blend provides a higher pressure without the higher CO2. Nitrogen gas will also help dispense a smoother beer with a creamier head. Set the PSI gauge to about 30-40 PSI (pounds per square inch) for Guinness and other nitrogenated stouts.

Keeping the System Clean

It may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping the plastic beer tubes clean and sanitary is one of the most important parts of maintaining a functioning and profitable draft system. As it is, beer within the draft system is susceptible to contaminants like yeast and molds, which grow inside faucets and other components. Bacteria can even make a home in the beer lines, despite the cool temperature. These growths can contribute to poor tastes or smells, and this in turn can make your customers head for the door. Many operators choose to hire a professional to clean their draft system. Whether you do this or do it yourself, be sure to do the following:

Clean regularly. A thorough cleaning of your draft beer system is required to remove or significantly reduce any impurities. Do so twice a month at least

Clean all components. When cleaning, remove faucets and other parts from the beer towers. Cleaning all pieces independently with hot, soapy water and a brush helps remove hidden contaminants in hard-to-reach places.

Be accountable for clean beer lines. Cleaning all the beer lines is essential to controlling the overall cleanliness of your equipment, protecting the quality of your beer. Sometimes a distributor will send a contractor to clean your beer lines for you, but if they represent a single brand, they may spend more time cleaning their own brand’s beer lines and less time cleaning your competing beer lines. Clean the lines yourself if you suspect something like this. Schedule thorough cleanings with your staff once or twice a month to remain personally accountable.

Draft Beer and Potential Profit

Determining the profit you can anticipate from draft beer sales is nothing a few calculations cannot handle. Read on to get a feel for the profit potential from implementing a draft beer program.


Each half barrel keg is 15 ½ gallons, which is 1,984 ounces total.

Consider how many ounces you pour in a pint of beer. If you pour 16 ounce pints, assuming about 14 ounces of that is beer and two ounces are the foamy head, you can probably expect to get around 130 pints of beer from each keg.
Let’s say you sell each pint of the beer for $3.50. This would produce a gross profit of about $455.
Subtract the wholesale cost of the keg—call it $100 to be safe—and your total net profit is $355.
Selling five kegs a week means selling 260 kegs a year. This in turn will produce about $92,300 in net profit per year.

Of course, the numbers will vary depending on the type of beer you keep on tap and how much you actually sell. But by the numbers, you can see that draft beer can be an enormously profitable aspect of your bar business, if the system is maintained and the bartenders know how to use it. Conversely, for every beer that is spilled, flat or too foamy, you could be losing profit. These signal problems with the draft system or incorrect pouring, both of which are detrimental to your profits.
Be sure to understand your draft beer system before getting started with your beer sales. You want to make sure you know how to handle any issues that arise, and usually something or other will come up. Draft beer sales can be a big profit maker for your operation. Just make sure you know what you are getting into and how to run things in the best possible way to make both a good impression as well as a good profit.

Source: FSW

Known for its traditional Irish pubs, Boston has recently become a haven for beer nerds, a self-described group for whom one kind of lager or stout is not enough. The journey to find the next great craft beer can occupy an entire weekend (or a few hours at work stalking a bar’s Twitter feed), and there are plenty of destinations from which to choose. Today’s beer bars are an eclectic group offering everything from hopped-up, West Coast IPAs to rare Belgian and German brews. And local brewers from the Bay State and New England are represented all over town. The bars themselves range from dark, subterranean hideouts to pizza restaurants, but the common thread is an emphasis on tap and bottle lists.

Here are the things to look for in a good beer bar: selection and rotation, ambience, service (bartenders aren’t just pouring your brew, they also need to be able to talk about it), food (Buffalo wings are not good enough), and pricing. Other issues inevitably crop up, of course, but this a good place to start. I’ve limited my selections to the metro Boston area.

I consider these to be the 10 best beer bars in Boston.

1. The Publick House

1648 Beacon St., Washington Square, Brookline – 617-277-2880

Focused on Belgian beers, The Publick House has a well-curated tap list that features rare pours from both “there” (that’s how it describes beers such as D’Achouffe La Chouffe from Belgium), and “here,” which includes Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale and others made in this country. Pours come in tulips, pilsner, and pint glasses, a different shape for each beer. Patrons look a lot like they spent time in Vermont or Brooklyn, N.Y. — many with beards and plaid shirts. You can sit at the dimly lighted bar or in what might be the most warm and inviting dining room in the city. The mac and cheese is a standout, and traditional Belgian fare like moules frites pairs well with that country’s slightly sweet, slightly spicy beers. The Publick House may not have the most beer, but it has the best beer.

2. Lord Hobo

92 Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge – 617-250-8454,

In a space that used to house the B-Side Lounge, Lord Hobo is easy to miss from the street. Located in a residential area off Inman Square in Cambridge, the bar is cozy and unassuming. A curtain at the door keeps out drafts, artwork by local artists hangs on walls, and a horseshoe-shaped bar surrounds a nondenominational altar of draught lines in the center. There are 40 rotating taps, and, boy, do they rotate. I’ve found rare beers here, such as Hill Farmstead offerings from Greensboro, Vt., and Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, aged in bourbon barrels. The bottle list is just as much of a treasure trove, with about 30 selections of rare beers, including sour beers from the renowned Cantillion Brewery. Food here is less traditional (confit croquette with spicy aioli). Staff is knowledgeable and welcoming.

3. Cambridge Brewing Co.

1 Kendall Square, Cambridge – 617-494-1994,

When you think of local brew pubs, you may think of average beer. Not here. Brewmaster Will Meyers is extraordinarily experimental. For a festival celebrating saisons last summer, Meyers brought in seven beers. The CBC’s Great Pumpkin Festival in October featured 40 varieties of beer made with the orange squash. Despite being a local brew pub, Cambridge Brewing competes nationally; CBC’s Heather Ale recently took home a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival. The bar itself is near the Kendall T and the area’s labs and offices, making it a good hangout for techies. Short rib poutine and a pizza topped with local foraged mushrooms are different from the usual pub fare, and when the weather is warm, an outdoor patio offers coveted seats. Servers will happily discuss what you’re sipping — all beers are made on the premises — and how it was brewed.

4. Sunset Grill & Tap

130 Brighton Ave., Allston – 617-254-1331,

Sunset is your best option for the biggest, best selection of beers on tap (there are more than 100), and the 350-bottle list is nuts. Tap lines are cleaned often. If you’re looking to expand your palate and try as many new beers as possible, this is the place. Alas, the food is standard beer fare: burritos and Buffalo wings. This is not a cozy bar. It feels and functions like an informal restaurant, with neighboring students its population.

5. Deep Ellum

477 Cambridge St., Allston – 617-787-2337,

Deep Ellum is another 20-something hangout, but offers a completely different experience. It’s cramped in a good way. While it may be tough to get a seat at the bar on weekends, once you’re snugly inside, you’ll appreciate rubbing elbows with others and keeping warm. There are 30 or so beers on tap, but the list is exceptionally well-curated with limited edition brews such as seasonal offerings from locally made Pretty Things, Mystic Brewing, and rare German selections like Arcobräu Gräfliches Brauhaus Zwickl Lager, an unfiltered Kellerbier. There’s an extensive cocktail list, and the food — pork belly, deviled eggs, charcuterie — is worthy of pairing with great beer. If you’re looking for the hipster scene, this is it.

6. Meadhall

4 Cambridge Center, Kendall Square, Cambridge – 617-714-4372

Filled with techies flicking their fingers up and down their iPhones, Meadhall is Cambridge’s answer to Allston’s Sunset, with more than 100 beers on tap. This is a big space with a clean, industrial feel, but somehow it manages to be comfortable. Service is terrific and the food (local oysters and housemade bratwurst) is eclectic. My one gripe is that tap selections don’t seem to change as often as at some of the smaller bars. There are fewer super-rare selections, which is a quibble only a beer geek could come up with. Share a bowl of mixed nuts roasted with brown sugar and rosemary or Parmesan-sprinkled fries with your friends.

7. The Lower Depths Tap Room

476 Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square – 617-266-6662,

I’ve spent a lot of time here. Maybe too much time. I can’t help liking this place. Located a couple of blocks from the main drag of bars near Fenway Park, the Depths is a subterranean beer sanctuary. Portraits of literary “low-lifes” line the walls, and 17 taps and more than 100 bottles (including 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor) provide plenty from which to choose. Work your way through the list (bartenders keep track of this) and you get your own mug. Beer here is expensive compared with other spots in town (chalk that up to ballpark proximity), but the hot dogs ($1 each) and tater tots are pre- and post-game staples.

8. Bukowski Tavern

1281 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge – 617-497-7077
50 Dalton St., Back Bay – 617-437-9999,

Sticking with the literary theme, the two bars named for author Charles Bukowski serve up some of the best craft beers in the city. I’m partial to the Inman Square location and the big garage door at the front of the bar that opens in nice weather. Not sure what you want? Spin the beer wheel, cross your fingers, and hope that you land on Port Brewing’s Shark Attack or Ommegang’s Duvel Rustico, rather than Coors Light. You’re stuck with whatever the spinner lands on. Both bars are just the right kind of dark, perfect for day-drinking, though neither is the first place you’d take your mother or girlfriend. Food items include a White Trash Cheese Dip and chicken and waffles.

9. Local 149

149 P St., South Boston – 617-269-0900,

Located a couple of blocks from Castle Island, Local 149 is the epitome of the changing neighborhood that is modern-day Southie. Snazzy with a stainless steel bar, brightly colored bottles on the wall, and house-made pickled vegetables on the menu, this place is constantly packed with both Southie lifers and newcomers. There are more than 20 taps offering brews like Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and Delirium Tremens, and seasonal rotation happens often. Food choices range from oysters to charcuterie to an exceptionally delicious tuna burger.

10. Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale

48 Temple Place, Downtown Crossing – 617-426-0048,

A stylish, metropolitan bar with a New York vibe might not seem like a haven for craft beer, but Stoddard’s has emerged as a theatergoer’s destination. More than 20 oft-rotating taps might feature Troegs Nugget Nectar from Hershey, Pa., or High & Mighty Beer of the Gods, from Holyoke. There is usually an interesting beer on cask, such as Rapscallion Honey Ale. You can order cocktails, items such as pork loin and scallops from the dinner menu, or a cheese plate for snacking. On weekends, the place can be a bit of a scene; Stoddard’s fills a downtown void.

Source: Gary Dzen | The Boston Globe


Pouring the perfect glass of draft beer is simple and easy when you know a few basic tips and techniques.

The purpose of this article is to provide a quick guide to pouring
the perfect draft beer.

Following the steps below will help assure you are serving and consuming keg beer at its best.

Step One – A Clean Glass

Two Clean Glass Tests
A “Beer Clean” glass is the first step to serving an enticing and appetizing glass of beer.

Test 1 – To test the glassware to see if it is “Beer Clean”, try wetting the inside of a glass with water, then shake table salt all around on the inside of the glass. The salt will stick where the glass is clean.

Test 2 – Dispense a beer into a glass, examine the beer in the glass, and look for any bubbles clinging to the side or bottom of the glass. Are there bubbles on the glass surface? Are these bubbles rising to the top of the beer? If so, the beer glass is not clean. The CO2 gas contained will leave the beer and attach to a film residue left from detergent, lint, or other foreign matter to the glass.

Properly cleaning a beer glass starts by using equipment and detergents engineered specifically for beer glass cleaning. These products are available for both commercial and residential use.

It is very important to follow the manufacturers instructions for using these products. The procedures will vary from one product to the other.

Step Two – Pouring the Beer

Tilt the Glass and Open the Faucet

To dispense the beer, hold the glass at a 45-degree angle about one inch below the beer faucet. Place a hand near the faucet, quickly open the handle towards you with one motion.

As the glass fills, straighten the glass to an upright position, and close the faucet by snapping it back to the closed position.

Positioning a hand low on the tab knob just above the faucet, is a technique that minimizes the distance your hand must travel to open or close the faucet. This allows the faucet to open and close quickly, which improves the quality of the pour.

Pouring the perfect beer requires a beer system that is operating at or near 38 degrees F, and properly balanced.

The Perfect Pint

Step Three – Enjoying the Beer

Head (foam) on the Glass is Imperative

The head on a beer brings out the flavor and aroma. Many breweries suggest that a well-poured beer should have a ½ inch (nickel width) to a ¾ inch (quarter width) foam on top of the beer.

Looking closely at the foam it should consist of small bubbles of the same size that should be tightly clinging together. As the beer is consumed, a lacing of foam should collect on the side of the glass indicating each swallow. This is the sign of a good beer, a clean glass, and is said to bring good luck.

If the beer foam contains large bubbles, or dissipates quickly this is a sign of a glass that is not clean. This may also indicate an issue with the gas pressure applied to the beer.

If the foam is excessively thick and foamy, this may indicate that the gas pressure applied to the beer is not balanced.

Pouring Beer at Special Events or Parties

When dispensing draft beer at a special event or party it is best to use plastic cups only.

Wax lined paper cups or Styrofoam cups should not be used. The inside surface of the container is coarse, or may have a residue from the manufacturing process that will conflict with the beer, resulting in excessive foaming.