Anyone who uses beer kegs knows the problem of keeping the beer tap line clean. This is the hose through which the beer travels from the keg into the dispensing tap or nozzle, it also prevents the beer from going flat or sour. When a keg is empty, it is necessary to clean the beer tap and tap lines. A little bit of the beer is always left in the tap after it has been used and when this beer dries (when the keg is empty), it creates a residue which sticks to the beer tap lines. If you use the beer tap without clearing away this residue, it can make any beer taste sour. Residue also attracts bacteria and fungus onto the taps, so it is vital that the beer tap and tap line be cleaned before being reused.
Cleaning the Beer Tap Line with Water
Tap lines that are not properly cleaned act as a magnet for germs and mould. Drinking from them can make someone very ill. While most things can be cleaned with a bit of hot water and some scrubbing, running water through the beer taps is not enough to fully clean them. Bacteria and spores can be embedded in the plastic of the tap, or line, and water will simply pass over them without washing them away. It is not a good idea, therefore, simply to run the beer tap in some warm water before re-use. The taps and line must be properly cleansed.
Cleaning a Beer Tap Line Thoroughly
The only successful way to clear a beer tap line is through the use of professional chemicals. Stores that sell kegs and home brewing kits should be able to provide these, although you can also purchase them from the people that make beer kegs.
Look for a packet that contains the phrase “One step cleanser” or similar. The chemical kit might be referred to as a sanitization kit or a beer tap line cleaning system. This packet will contain a powder which has to be mixed with several pints of cool water. These powders have been designed specifically to get rid of bacteria and mould without affecting the taste of any future kegs of beer that might need to use the line. You will probably be able to choose between caustic or alkaline powders. Both of these dissolve the residue as well as kill bacteria. Other powders can be used to get rid of beer stones (built up residue) in the line.
When you are ready to clean the beer tap line, pour the chilled water and powder mix into the keg and put on the lid. Ensure that the keg is pressurized using a hand or foot pump, and then attach the beer tap line. Force all of the water out of the keg, and down through the line. The beer taps are now sanitized.
Clean the beer tap lines regularly with the powdered cleanser in order to be fully certain that all harmful bacteria are destroyed.