Preparing Your Draft Beer System For Shutdown During COVID-19

These steps will help you prepare your draft system for a long term shutdown. 

draft system cleaning

Bars and restaurants across the United States have been forced to alter the way they do business or close temporarily due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many business owners are using this time to thoroughly clean and sanitize their establishments. We have put together some simple steps for how to clean and protect your draft systems during this difficult time.

How To Prepare Your Draft Beer System For Shutdown

Step 1: Shut Off Gas Supply

draft system shutdown

Shut off the supply of CO2 or nitrogen to your draft system by turning the knob on your air tank to the off position. Make sure the flow is completely shut off to prevent leaks. If you cannot access your tanks, then close the valves on your regulators or air lines.

Step 2: Disconnect Couplers From Kegs

Disengage your keg coupler by pulling the handle out and then up. Unlock the coupler from the keg by turning it 90 degrees and then lift up to disconnect it from the neck of the keg.

Step 3: Clean & Store Kegs

draft system shutdown

You may want to clean the neck and top of the keg with soap and water to remove any beer that may have leaked or spilled. Dry the top of your keg thoroughly, then wrap the keg stem with plastic wrap and seal with tape. 

Kegs must remain refrigerated while in storage. DO NOT let them sit at room temperature. This will cause the beer to spoil faster and allow bacteria to form. If you’re not sure about the shelf life of your draft beer, then read our post on How Long Does A Keg Stay Fresh. It is also unsanitary to store food on top of kegs in refrigerators and walk-in coolers.

Step 4: Clean Your Beer Lines

This is a very important step because you could be faced with a bigger mess when your business returns to normal operations if you don’t properly clean your lines. DO NOT leave beer sitting in your draft lines. It will go bad and create mold, bacteria and other nasty things in the lines. 

At a minimum, you should at least flush your lines with water, but fully cleaning them is highly recommended. DO NOT use hot water to flush your lines, this will cause them to warp or melt. (One of our draft experts says it will turn your lines into Twizzlers). Use lukewarm water instead.

You can use a beer line cleaning kit with hand pump, a pressurized cleaning keg or an electric recirculating line cleaning pump to clean your lines. Check out our guide on how to clean your beer lines for more information.

Step 5: Clean Faucets, Couplers & Components

draft system shutdown

In addition to cleaning your beer lines, you should also clean the components of your draft system. Disconnect and disassemble your draft faucets and keg couplers before soaking them in a bowl or bucket filled with beer line cleaning solution and water for 30-60 minutes. Remove them from the solution and then use a brush to clean them thoroughly. Rinse and completely dry your components before reassembling and reattaching them.

When you have reassembled your system, you may want to wrap the couplers and faucets with plastic wrap to preserve them. You can also use a Tap Soother faucet cap to cover your draft faucets while not in use.

Performing these tasks now will create a more sanitary environment for your employees and customers, and allow you to get up and running quickly when business returns to normal.

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  • John kronberg April 30, 2020 @ 5:21am

    Thanks for the information on preparing the system for shutdown during COVID-19. One little question is when all of this is done is the system left until the shutdown has finished( I could be months , hopefully not) or does it need flushing occasionally?

    • Dave Buchanan May 22, 2020 @ 8:57am

      Hi John. It probably wouldn’t hurt to clean them again when you do reopen just in case, but if there’s no beer flowing through the lines they don’t need to be cleaned again.

  • todd pope May 6, 2020 @ 4:16pm

    Should the glycol also be turned off while lines are empty

    • Dave Buchanan May 22, 2020 @ 9:12am

      Hi Todd, if your lines are empty then you can turn off the glycol.

  • Andys June 10, 2020 @ 7:44pm

    I wish I saw this sooner. We had our glycol system shut down and beer left in the lines this whole time. If I have the lines flushed and clean is the glycol still ok?

    • Dave Buchanan July 1, 2020 @ 4:23pm

      Hi Andy, the Glycol should be fine. Cheers!

  • Franklin White July 21, 2020 @ 4:18pm

    I am glad that business owners are using the quarantine shutdown as a time to clean their kegs properly. If they can’t find time to do it themselves then they definitely need to hire a professional to do it.

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