Just Right: Storing and Serving Draft Beer
If you’ve been drinking beer for any amount of time you are probably aware of draft beer. People around the globe enjoy the cold sudsy beverage that comes from a keg and out of the beer taps. When stored and served right, it is a tasty and refreshing way to enjoy a cold beer. However, some problems can arise that can definitely take away from the quality and taste of your favorite beverage.
The most important factor in proper draft care is the temperature of the beer. The proper temperature for storage and serving draft beer is 38 degrees Fahrenheit. If the keg falls above or below 38 F, the appearance, freshness, and most importantly, taste can be affected. Draft beer is kept at this temperature so that it can maintain the carbonation level that it has while it is being made at the brewery. It does not matter whether it is a domestic or imported beer or if it is pasteurized or not; the temperature must remain between 38-40 degrees.
If a keg gets too warm, the beer will foam up while it is still in the container. This happens because the pressure applied by the beer tap handles is not enough to keep the carbonation in the beer. This can lead to wasted beer and wasted profit. Once a keg has lost pressure and the carbonation in the beer is gone, it affects the taste, making it more bitter, and the appearance of the beer, making it appear clouded.
If the keg gets too cold it causes the carbonation found in the beer to remain there until the customer consumes it. The result is overfilled beer glasses and a lower yield of beers per keg. Also, if temperature drops too much without the pressure from the beer tap handles being changed, the beer may become over carbonated. This will result in foamy pours.
Temperature can be maintained with a little care. To properly measure a keg’s temperature you must place a thermometer in liquid with the keg. This is important to do to maintain proper temperature. A keg can go from 38 degrees to 48 degrees in as little as four hours. On the other hand, it can take up to ten hours for a keg that measures 48 degrees to be cooled down to 38 degrees. This is a serious matter in a business or party situation!
One way to prevent improper temperature is make sure that your keg refrigerator is well maintained and sealed properly. A poorly sealed cooler can warm the keg by several degrees over a relatively short period of time. When storing kegs, avoid keeping other items in the same cooler as the beer. Having other items in the same refrigerator can lead to people opening the door and affecting the temperature of the keg.
One must consider temperature when receiving a keg from delivery as well. A keg that has ridden around in a delivery truck for several hours is more than likely going to be several degrees warmer than when it came from the warehouse. The bottom line is that with a little care and attention draft beer can always be good all the way from the bottom of the barrel until it comes bursting forth in a golden frothy spray out of the beer tap handles.