Many bars and restaurants were forced to shutdown during the 2020 pandemic – which means – all of the equipment and items inside the restaurant had to be shut down along with it. For many bars, the beer systems had to be completely shutdown and later restarted. We put together a few tips when restarting a draft beer system.
Shutting Down a Beer System
When shutting down a beer system properly 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 are handled before shutdown you’ll likely have a smoother restart, if not, you may have to perform a much more thorough cleaning/sanitization later on.
Basic Steps to Restart a Beer System
- Start with a full system cleaning using factory 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.
- Check for any signs of problems such as noticeably dirty solutions coming out of the lines. Look out for dirty couplers, faucets, of FOB devices. If dirty, now is the time to clean these components.
- Before tapping any partial kegs, make sure that you check their expiration dates. Depending on how long you shut the system down for they may not be good to serve. Even full kegs that have been sitting in a cooler during a shutdown may be risky to serve. 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 until a couple days into restart. The last thing you want when serving customers again is to pour improperly balanced, or worse, spoiled beer.