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How to Clean a Kegerator

How to Clean and Care For a Kegerator By Hops Aficionado

Š 2010 by Hops Aficionado

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How to Clean a Kegerator

Kegerator Use and Care The four most important areas for proper use and care of your kegerator are cleanliness, maintaining proper temperature, using appropriate CO2 pressure, and safe operation of your unit. If you take care in the first three areas, you should be able to enjoy problem free beer. However, if any of these three are neglected, your beer could easily be ruined. If you ignore safety concerns, damage to your unit, and injuries to yourself, could be the result.

Proper Cleaning You need to thoroughly clean every part of your kegerator that touches beer. This includes the coupler, pressure regulator, beer lines, and spigots. These parts should be cleaned every time you change kegs, or every three weeks, if your kegs last longer than that (and shame on you, if they do). When you disassemble and clean each component, make sure you use a cleaning solution designed specifically for the use. Most household detergents will leave a residue that will ruin your beer. In addition to using a beer line cleaning solution, you should scrub each component with a brush. Failure to maintain a proper cleaning regimen will allow yeast, calcium, mold, and bacteria to build up in your lines and on other components. Any of those four items will ruin your beer upon contact. Each time you re-assemble after cleaning, it’s also a good idea to put appropriate lubrication on the o-rings and check all of the parts for wear or cracks. If you want to be very diligent about cleaning, there are pump-style cleaning systems available that circulate the cleaning solution through your system. This type of system is much more efficient than hand cleaning.

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How to Clean a Kegerator

Maintaining Appropriate Temperature The correct temperature for storing or serving draft beer is 38° F. A consistent temperature range of 34-38°F is required for optimal beer. Temperature variances outside of 34-38° range will have a negative effect on your beer. When draft beer gets warm, it'll become foamy. Foam is created when the CO2 "breaks out" of the beer or is released. An increase in temperature of just 1° is enough to create foamy beer. A keg that is too warm can also create a cloudy pour with a sour taste. Worse yet, if the temperature goes over 50°F, bacteria could breed, and ruin the keg. If the beer is kept too cold, the carbonation will not be released, and your beer will be flat and taste stale. Beer will freeze if the temperature falls to 28°F. Once beer has been frozen, it's ruined. There are steps you can take to help maintain proper temperature. First of all, locate your kegerator away from any source of heat or direct sunlight. Secondly, locate your unit in a location with proper air circulation and at least an inch of clearance on all sides. Don't place your unit in a built-in or recessed area, unless your kegerator was specifically designed as a built-in unit. Make sure that you monitor your temperatures. A popular method is simply keeping a kitchen thermometer, or meat probe in your kegerator. It's also a good idea to periodically check the temperature of a freshly drawn beer.

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How to Clean a Kegerator

Using Correct CO2 Pressure The pressure regulator is the key part to make sure you have correct pressure. There are two basic types of regulators, single gauge and double gauge regulators. Single gauge regulators measure the pressure in the keg, which is the most important reading. The double gauge regulators have an additional gauge for measuring the CO2 tank pressure. The dual gauge regulator is preferable, because it will alert you to a CO2 bottle getting empty, but it isn't necessary. The correct pressure is critical, and improper settings will noticeably change the quality and appearance of each pour. The average pressure setting is 12-14 PSI, and will vary slightly by type of beer, and even keg to keg of the same beer. We like to start our pressure off at 13 PSI, and fine tune from there. If the pressure is too low, the CO2 will "break out" in the form of small bubbles in the beer that will make it go flat. If the pressure is too high, you will experience an extremely foamy pour with more head than beer. It's also a good idea to let a new keg sit for 24 hours, so both the temperature and pressure can stabilize, before making your first pour.

Safe Use of Your Kegerator The most critical safety issue with kegerators is the proper handling and use of the CO2 tank. Many of these items are common sense, but failure to heed common sense with CO2 cylinders could result in serious injury, and being a finalist for the annual Darwin Awards.

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How to Clean a Kegerator

First of all, never attempt to refill a CO2 bottle yourself. Finding a local refill source is typically easy to do, and not very expensive. Secondly, the cylinder must always be connected to a regulator or not connected at all. Be sure to connect a regulator to your bottle before opening the cylinder valve. Never connect the cylinder directly to the keg. Never throw or drop a CO2 bottle, or place it near sources of heat. Extra cylinders should be stored in a dry, cool location that is well ventilated. If you suspect or detect a leak, ventilate to best of your ability and leave the area. Additional safety issues include not using an indoor rated unit outdoors, making sure your unit has adequate ventilation so it doesn't over heat, and whenever possible, do not hook unit into an extension cord. If the desired location of your kegerator does require an extension cord, make sure the cord is a 3 wire, grounded cord, and has a UL rating higher than your unit.

Kegerator Parts and Cleaning Supplies Please visit our kegerator parts store for all of your kegerator maintenance, repair, and cleaning needs.

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Kegerator Cleaning