Cleaning Your Kegerator
Cleaning your home draft system or kegerator is an important part of maintaining this equipment. In order to keep beer tasting fresh and efficiently flowing, your kegerator should be cleaned before and after each party, and regularly between each keg switch. Some people leave their kegerators for months at a time without a thorough cleaning. In the long run, this can cause sediment to build up in the beer lines – which can cause not only contamination, but also foaming. It is important to keep your kegerator clean inside and out, to empty the spill tray each time the kegerator is used, and to clean and sanitize the beer lines on a regularly scheduled basis.
The biggest chore when cleaning your kegerator is flushing and sanitizing your kegerator's beer lines. Kegerator cleaning kits are available for this purpose. You can also use a Cornelius keg, or soda keg along with some BLC (Beer Line Cleaner), Power Punch 22, or other detergent-water solution and pressurize the cleaning with CO2 or a hand air pump. Cleaning your kegerator's beer lines is best done with a non-abrasive cleaner. This is because any abrasions on the inside of the beer lines can cause your beer to foam. In a sense, the CO2 is scraped out of the beer by these little scratches and rough spots, freed from its soluble bond with the beer.
If you are cleaning your beer lines, you might as well take the opportunity to clean and sanitize your beer faucet and keg tap. Keeping these parts of your kegerator clean and well-maintained is your first line of defense against bacterial infection and contamination. This will ensure that your beer tastes fresher and stays from souring over longer periods of time. If you wash and sanitize these parts thoroughly when you clean and sanitize your beer lines, you should have no trouble keeping your beer for months at a time.
It is a good idea to use non-abrasive cleaners on the inside of your kegerator as well. When using scrubby pads, steel wool, and abrasive cleaners, you create scratches in the surfaces you are working on. In these scratches and potholes – generally too small for the eye to see – bacteria can 'hole up' and then be harder to get rid of. We are leery of using vinegar to clean and sanitize kegerators, just in case there are any live cultures of the vinegar left in the solution. Distilled white vinegar should be safe, but never use unfiltered apple cider vinegar – or your beer may end up tasting just like the vinegar (f.y.i.: vinegar cultures devour alcohol to produce the vinegar).
Remember that cleaning is different from sanitizing. Cleaning removes debris, sediment, caked on foam, malt residue and dirt. Sanitizing is the process that happens AFTER cleaning to ensure that the smooth and clean surfaces have no unwanted bacteria, yeast, or other microscopic infestations. Some beer line cleaners claim to do both at once. We recommend running the cleaner through with an air hand pump and then repeating the process while flushing the lines with water. Then, using a sanitizing solution on the lines pushed by CO2. Depending on the sanitizer you use, you may have to flush once again with water to ensure that no off taste remains in the beer lines. This is the fool proof method of ensuring that your beer lines flow freely with fresh tasting beer.
Published On: Tuesday, August 12, 2008
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