Following Governor Abbott’s announcement earlier this month, many bars are reopening across Texas. Although there are still restrictions in Harris County, if you are in fact reopening or preparing to reopen your bar soon, here’s how to make sure your beer system is restarted properly before the beers start flowing again.
Shutting Down Beer Systems
First order of business – do you know how your beer system was shut down?
When properly shutting down a beer system, it is typically recommended to perform a full system cleaning, flush out the beer lines, shut down the glycol chiller, untap and clean couplers, and shut off the gas system.
If these items were handled before shutdown you’ll likely have a smoother restart, if not, you may have to perform a much more thorough cleaning/sanitization and system inspection.
Restarting Beer Systems
Start with a full system cleaning using recommended sanitizers. If the beer lines were not flushed and cleaned right before shutdown, it is likely that beer has been sitting stagnant and has grown mold and bacteria within the lines. This will require a full beer line cleaning and sanitation before you are able to serve customers.
During the cleaning check for any signs of problems, such as, noticeably dirty solutions coming out of the lines. Also, check for dirty couplers, faucets, or FOB devices. If dirty, now is the time to clean these components thoroughly.
Before tapping any partial kegs, make sure that you check their expiration dates – odds are they are no longer good to serve. Even full kegs that have been sitting in a cooler during shutdown may be risky to serve, so definitley check those expiration dates as well. The expiration of different types/styles of beer can vary, but on average a pasteurized beer will last 90-120 days and unpasteurized beer will last about 45-60 days. When in doubt, it is much safer to start with all fresh kegs.
Continue to monitor your system and beer quality, sometimes “beer-gone-bad” or lines tainted by bacteria will not be apparent in the taste until a couple days into restart.
The last thing you want when reopening your business is to turn customers off by serving improperly balanced or spoiled beer.