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Beer Systems - Frequently Asked Questions

Rapids Wholesale Guide to Draft Beer Equipment Selection and Operation Question Topics:
Keg Coolers
Portable Beer Dispensing Systems
Long Draw Beer Dispensing and Storage Systems
Home Conversion Kits for Consumer Upright Refrigerators
Parts Lists and Diagrams




Beer Systems - Keg Coolers

  Questions:  
What do I need to setup my keg cooler?
The CO2 tank shipped empty, where do I purchase CO2?
What is the difference between the steel and the aluminum CO2 tank?
What kind of coupler should I purchase?
What is the proper CO2 pressure to use? Does the beer type matter?
How long (how many kegs) should a CO2 bottle last?
How do I run a keg box using an external CO2 tank? (True and Bev Air)
What is the advantage of a double vs. single regulator?
How big is a keg of beer (in inches)?
How do I change the CO2 bottle mid-keg?
What causes foamy beer?
What temperature should the beer be at the faucet?
How long will tapped beer last before going flat?
Who do I contact with warranty problems?
Finding a CO2 leak
Why does the faucet drip? Is there a rebuild kit?
How often should I clean my system? (Keg box, long draw)
Line cleaning chemicals, which to use when?
Keg Cooler Maintenance Tips

beer frequently asked questions

Keg coolers, whether for home or bar, are one of the most economical ways to dispense draft beer. Designed as stand alone units, they hold beer at serving temperature from the keg to the faucet.

In a commercial setting, many bars rely exclusively on keg coolers for their draft needs while others use keg coolers to augment an existing long draw beer system. Hotels, stadiums and event centers mount keg coolers on casters for the ability to position the coolers where and when needed in the facilities.

The most common keg coolers have self contained refrigeration systems that merely require a connection to the building’s electrical system, usually a standard 115V cord and plug, making these units easy to install and maintain. Where space is at a premium, or when the noise of a refrigeration compressor would be unwanted, remotely cooled systems are available. No matter the size or the usage, keg coolers rely on the cold air within the cabinet to keep the beer lines cold all the way to the faucet.

Smaller single keg coolers find their way into homes, frequently as an alternative to packaged beer or when the consumer is a home-brewer. In fact, the idea is so popular at the consumer level that Rapids provides kits to convert old refrigerators into single keg home beer dispensers – instant recycling for old refrigerators, and a vast cost savings compared to purchasing a factory produced cooler. (For more on converting upright consumer refrigerators to keg coolers, please see the selection on the main page titled “Home Conversion Kits for Refrigerators”)

Keg coolers come in many configurations:

  • Club tops with top sliding compartments for storing chilled glasses or specialty products.
  • All stainless steel exteriors for an upscale look.
  • Single and multiple faucet tower arrangements.
  • Specialty keg coolers with the capability of dispensing keg beer and glass doors for displaying chilled premium bottled products.

Following are the most common questions and answers about keg coolers and their operation and maintenance.

What do I need to setup my keg cooler? TOP

  1. For a single keg cooler set up (providing you have a keg box with a draft arm) you will need the proper hose size and length, 5’ of 3/16” I.D. soft line beer hose with tail piece and hex nut on the end. If you have a stainless steel down tube on your draft arm, you will need 4’ of 3/16” I.D. beer hose.
  2. One keg tap (coupler) with 2316B neoprene coupling washer for each keg. The type of coupler varies with the type of beer being dispensed.
  3. CO2 hose, hose clamps for each keg.
  4. CO2 tank and regulator.
  5. On multi keg set ups, you will need a CO2 distributor for each keg. This will only work if the desired pressure is the same on every keg.
  6. If you need different pressures for each keg, you will need a secondary (inline) regulator for each keg. The primary regulator on the CO2 tank will have to be set 5 pounds higher then the highest secondary regulator to insure they will all get the proper gas pressure. You will need additional CO2 hose, clamps, neoprene washers, and keg taps for each beer.

beer frequently asked questions

For a single keg box, choose from Rapids' kits:

PT751 with CO2 tank and US Sankey coupler or a PT759 with CO2 tank and 2-probe coupler.
The kit includes choice of keg coupler plus: CO2 tank, double gauge regulator, cleaning kit, hoses, clamps and washers.

For CO2 applications with multiple kegs, it is best to purchase these additions to the kits listed above:

  • One coupler for each keg (catalog number depends on choice).
  • One 3/16” beer hose assembly for each keg-to-tower connection (PC176D).
  • CO2 hose for each coupler, usually 4 to 5 feet each (171R, sold by the foot).
  • Clamps for each end of the CO2 hose (2379, two required per hose length).

For same pressure CO2 applications, a CO2 distributor as follows:

2 keg (204)
3 keg (204A)
4 keg (204B)

beer system frequently asked questions

For systems needing different pressures from the same bottle:

2 keg (3N122)
3 keg (3N133)
4 keg (3N144)

  • Another length of CO2 hose (3N122, 3N133 and 3N144 – make sure your main CO2 regulator at the tank is set to a pressure 5 pounds HIGHER than the pressure set on your highest secondary regulator!

    The CO2 tank shipped empty, where do I purchase CO2? TOP

    • CO2 tanks always ship empty due to transportation regulations against shipping pressurized containers.
    • Your CO2 tank can be filled by most welding supply houses, or from your beverage provider.
    • In many areas, expect to exchange your empty tank for a filled one, much like a gas grill LP bottle exchange. Exchange programs are desirable because the gas provider is responsible for testing and maintaining tank integrity.

    What is the difference between a steel and an aluminum CO2 tank?

    • They both work and distribute the gas the same way. The main difference is the weight.

    Which ever you use, make sure you stand it upright and do not lay it down sideways. There is liquid CO2 in the tank, and it will ruin your regulator and beer.

    • Steel tanks may rust after several years use inside of a keg cooler.

    What kind of coupler should I purchase? TOP

    • This depends on the type of beer you are tapping. Most American beers use Sankey couplers. Some may take the 2-probe coupler. Import beers take a different coupler, depending upon where the beer is coming from. You should confirm the keg coupler type with your local beer supplier.

    Following is a listing of some common keg coupler and beer brand combinations. Please be aware that local brewer’s kegs may not always conform to these suggested couplers.

    beer frequently asked questions

    What is the proper CO2 pressure to use? Does the beer type matter? TOP

    • On a regular beer system (short run), with the proper line sizing (5’ of 3/16” I.D. soft beer line) you should use around 12 pounds of pressure. Light beer may take a pound or two more pressure.

    How long (how many kegs) should a CO2 bottle last? TOP

    • A 5-pound CO2 bottle will dispense six to eight 16-gallon kegs using 12 pounds of pressure or around ¾ of a pound per keg.

    How do I run a keg box using an external CO2 tank? (True and Bev Air) TOP

    • On many keg coolers, there is a removable plug, or a knock out hole in the interior near the compressor enclosure. Simply remove the plug or knock out, make a hole in the insulation and run your CO2 line into the box.
    • After the CO2 line has been run through the hole, insulate around the hose with plumber’s putty or self expanding foam spray (Rapids 9M120).

    Adapting a single keg cooler to a home bar-top: Though not recommended, this can be accomplished with extreme care. You will be required to cut a hole in your bar top!

    • You can put your portable keg box right under the bar, line up the draft arm hole on the top of the keg box and make a same sized hole in the bar top. Add insulation to the space between the bottom of the bar and the top of the keg box. Cut a hole in the insulation, so you can look down into the box from the hole in the bar. Mount the draft arm to the bar top using the screw holes provided in the flange.
    • After the draft arm in mounted, take the chill tube from inside the keg box and attach it to the inside of the draft arm. This will keep the temperature in the keg box and the draft arm the same.
    • Foaming beer could indicate insufficient insulation between the bar top and the keg cooler.

    What is the advantage of a double vs. single regulator? beerTOP

    • The single gauge regulator will only tell you how much pressure in going into your keg.
    • A double gauge regulator will show line pressure and it will also indicate how much gas is left in the tank. This way you can see when you are getting low (down to the red section) and need a refill.

    How big is a keg of beer (in inches)? TOP

    • They can vary a little. Standard straight walled Sankey kegs are generally between 15” to 17” in diameter and 23” to 25” high. You will need approximately 28” in height to make this work in a converted refrigerator beer system. Local and micro brewers and regional brewers may use different cooperage. Please consult your beer provider for further details.
    • Half kegs contain 16 gallons of beer; Quarter kegs (pony kegs) contain 8 gallons of beer.
    • Micro brewers and home brewers will often use 5 gallon bulk tanks (often called Cornelius tanks) that measure 8-1/2” in diameter and 25-1/4” tall.

    How do I change the CO2 bottle mid-keg? beer machineTOP

    • Shut off the valve on top of the CO2 tank and un-tap the keg.
    • Back the screw that regulates the pressure all the way out.
    • Put the new tank on the system.
    • After making sure every thing is tight, open the valve and turn the screw to the right until the desired pressure is set.
    • Re-tap the keg. Once the keg is tapped, double check the regulator pressure to assure the pressure is still holding to the preset.

    What causes foamy beer? beer guideTOP

    There can be many reasons, but here are some of the most common ones.

    • Temperature change (if cold beer hits warm beer lines).
    • A system that isn’t balanced correctly (Wrong size beer hose and/or CO2 pressure).
    • The cabinet is holding a temperature that is too high.
    • A dirty beer system.

    What temperature should the beer be at the faucet? TOP

    • Beer temperature is a personal preference. Colder beer takes less CO2 pressure to push than warmer beer. 36 degree beer should take around 12 pounds of pressure. Add 1 pound of pressure for every 2 degrees in temperature rise. When a system is set up properly, the beer temperature should be within 1 degree of what it is in the storage area.

    How long will tapped beer last before going flat? TOP

    • Different beer companies have differing ideas on draft beer. Some brewers say a keg should only be on tap for a certain amount of time to insure peak freshness and taste. This mainly pertains to a bar or a restaurant.
    • If tapped with the proper CO2 pressure and kept cold the beer should last quite awhile and never go flat. If anything beer will get a bite to it, if it becomes over carbonated.
    • Over carbonation can be prevented by keeping track of when the keg is getting low. If the beer has been on tap for over a month, after drinking your evening beer, un-tap the keg or shut the CO2 off. (More applicable to home or low volume user.)

    REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE TOP

    Who do I contact with warranty problems? TOP

    • First contact the manufacturers Tech Support line. The phone number is inside the cabinet of most equipment.
  • For further assistance, contact your salesperson or Rapids Help Desk at 1-800-553-2088.
  • Have your manufacturer model number and serial number ready, and know the date of first delivery.
  • Finding a CO2 leak TOP

    • This could take some time if it’s a slow leak. First make sure all of the clamps are tight and there is some kind of washer between the regulator and the tank. There are two types, a round one with a small hole in the center (plastic or fiber) or a quad ring built right into the regulator stem or CO2 tank. If these are bad or missing, they will need to be replaced. Never use two washers on one connection, this could cause a leak. Start at the tank and work to the keg tap. Turn the toggle on the regulator sideways, to shut off the gas supply to the hose (the gas is on, if the toggle arm is in line with the CO2 hose). Open your gas tank valve till the needles on the gauges move up. Then close the valve on the tank. The needles on the gauges should stay where they are if there’s not a leak (again if it’s a slow leak, it may take some time to go down). If they go down, the problem is in the regulator. Either the regulator diaphragm is bad, or there is a defective gauge or toggle, but it’s usually the diaphragm.
    • If a gauge or toggle has been replaced, it may be leaking where they connect to the regulator. Use either plumbers tape or sealing compound to help prevent any air leak at the pipe threads.
    • If the leak is not at the tank or regulator, un-tap the keg, and follow the same procedures as above, but make sure the toggle is pointing to the CO2 line, so gas is going into the line. If the clamps are good and tight and still leaking, it must be in your keg tap. There are gas seals on the probe and/or on the inside of the body on your tap (depending on what make it is). These could need replaced. When you do take your tap apart and replace these, you should use a parts lube (3H540) on the O ring and inside of the tap body to reduce friction and make them last longer.
    • If there is still a leak, it could be the seals on the bottom of the tap, where the coupler seals to the keg or that the keg is damaged where the two meet and are not making a tight seal. There is a keg seal and probe seal. If either is missing or cracked, they will need to be replaced. If the keg is not making a good seal because of some damage, only the beer distributor can remedy the problem.

    Why does the faucet drip? Is there a rebuild kit? TOP

    • The shaft seat (110032) is worn out or the internal parts of the faucet are probably dirty and need to be cleaned. See the diagrams at the end of this booklet for part names and catalog numbers.

    How often should I clean my system? (Keg box, long draw) TOP

    • Long draw systems should be cleaned every two weeks. Keg boxes once a month in commercial applications. Cleaning frequency can go up during warmer weather.

    Line cleaning chemicals, which to use when? TOP

    • A professional might want to use a stronger cleaner like, Double Alkaline Cleaner (DAC1), Penetrate (5N147), or line cleaners DEC1 or BLC1. The 5N147 and DAC1 can only be purchased in cases of 12 bottles, and is not for the home brewer as it is very strong. Some cleaners are considered caustic and must be transported as HAZMAT materials at higher shipping expense. See the Rapids catalog for notices on HAZMAT products.
    • For a home brewer or someone with a home keg box, the super no-rinse NC837, PLC1 powdered cleaner, or BLC1 liquid concentrate are good cleaners.
    • DEC1 is a good cleaner, but only comes in a gallon bottle, using 1 to 2 ounces for a gallon of water, depending on how dirty the lines are. DEC1 has a bright green color and can easily be spotted if there is any solution left in the line.
    • It’s best to let the solution sit in the line for a while before flushing to dissolve any sediment or scale buildup on the line’s interior walls.
    • Remember, it’s not only what is used, but how often it is used. Get on a cleaning schedule and stick with it. Patrons may not notice the taste of beer coming out of clean lines, but they will immediately notice the taste of beer served out of fouled lines.

    Keg Cooler Maintenance Tips TOP

    • Remember to clean the refrigeration coils of your keg box as recommended in your owner’s manual.
    • Do not use cleaners that contain chlorine on stainless steel surfaces!
    • If you will not be using your keg box for several days and the keg is low, remove the CO2 pressure by decoupling your kegs. Constant CO2 pressure will over carbonate the beer, causing foam and a “bite” to the beer’s flavor.
    • If your coupler has a ball in it, you will need to lift the ball to allow the cleaning solution to pass through. Rapids Sankey Ball Valve Lifter (FT137) is the correct tool for this job. In a pinch a wire coat hanger can be bent to fit, but may damage the ball valve. (Most operators who have short beer lines of 4 to 5 feet remove the ball valves from their couplers before putting them in service.)



    Portable Beer Dispensing Systems

    Questions:
    What type of dispensing should I use?
    Why buy a coil cooler or a cold plate cooler?
    What do I need to purchase beyond the coil or cold plate cooler?
    What is the difference between the steel and the aluminum CO2 tank?
    What is the advantage of a double vs. single regulator?
    How do I change the CO2 bottle mid-keg?
    What causes foamy beer?
    What temperature should the beer be at the faucet?
    How long will tapped beer last before going flat?
    What kind of coupler should I purchase?
    How big is a keg of beer (in inches)?
    What is the best CO2 tank size to purchase?
    The CO2 tank shipped empty, where do I purchase CO2?
    Rapids sell over two dozen different hand operated beer pumps. Is one style better than another?
    Do hand operated “picnic” pumps ship complete?
    Why does the faucet drip? Is there a rebuild kit?

    Beer Dispensing SystemsPortable Beer Dispensing Systems faq

    What type of dispensing should I use? TOP

    • Every situation is different. Picnic pumps work fine for short term and low volume parties, etc. Hand pumps are used to pressurize air in the keg and push the beer to the faucet. Air will make the beer go flat over a short period of time, less then 24 hours.
    • Coil and cold plate coolers use CO2 to move the beer through coolers filled with ice, and are great for heavy-use dispensing such as weddings or ball games. Care needs to be taken however, since these coolers use higher pressure setting on the CO2 and can over carbonate the beer in less than a day.
    • The keg itself needs to be kept cold and out of direct sunlight. Use a keg tub (9C061 or RP141) to hold the keg and surround it with ice.

    A dispensing cooler with 120’ coils doesn’t require that the keg be in an ice bath, but it should be protected by a jacket (KGV1 or 651).

    Portable Beer Systems
    Rapids Economy Party Tub (9C061 shown, with keg and hand operated pump FT419)

    Why buy a coil cooler or a cold plate cooler? Portable Beer Dispensing Systems faqsTOP

    • These are good for functions where electricity is not available or it’s not convenient or cost effective to have an electrically operated keg cooler available (picnics, receptions, etc).
    • A 120’ coil box is for higher volume applications, where the beer may need to be flowing almost continuously. 50’ coil boxes and cold plate boxes are for lower volume situations where there will be breaks between draws that will allow the cold plate or coil to catch up.
    • With either a coil or a cold plate cooler, the cooler needs to be filled with ice at all times. Be careful that the ice doesn’t create a bridge at the top, leaving an open air pocket underneath. This exposes the coil or cold plate to open air and will make the beer warm and foamy.
    • For a coil box set up, it is best to pour a gallon of water over the ice after the box is filled (always keep the coils covered with ice). This activates the ice and keeps the beer from being cloudy.
    • You will need to apply 25 pounds to 35 pounds of pressure to get coil or cold plate coolers to pour properly.
    • On a coil box, be sure to run beer through it prior to putting the ice in the cooler. If there is any water or moisture in the coils, it could freeze up and block the beer from coming out the faucet. If this type of blockage happens, remove all the ice and thaw out the coils, start the beer flowing, then reload the ice.
    • If you use a 2 or 3 faucet box, you will need a CO2 distributor or hose “T” to split the CO2 after the main regulator (see the multi-keg dispensing hardware requirements listed below).

    What do I need to purchase beyond the coil or cold plate cooler? TOP

    • One beer line and coupler per faucet (kit RP384, Sankey type coupler*)
    • One CO2 tank, regulator and CO2 line (kit BD435 with dual gauge regulator*)
    • For coolers with more than one faucet, purchase one CO2 add on line kit per faucet (RP799) or a CO2 distributor and additional CO2 line as described under the "Multiple Keg Dispensing" section below.
    online Portable Beer Dispensing Systems
    buy Portable Beer Dispensing Systems

    *other configurations are available but not in kit form

    What is the difference between the steel and the aluminum CO2 tank? TOP

    • Mainly the weight. They both work and distribute the gas the same way.

    Which ever you use, make sure you stand it upright and do not lay it down sideways. There is liquid CO2 in the tank and it will ruin your regulator and beer.

    What is the advantage of a double vs. single regulator? TOP

    • The single gauge regulator will indicate how much pressure in going into the keg.
    • A double gauge regulator will show line pressure and it will also indicate how much gas is left in the tank. A red section on the tank gauge indicates a refill will be needed soon.

    How do I change the CO2 bottle mid-keg? TOP

    • Shut off the valve on top of the CO2 tank and un-tap the keg.
    • Back the screw that regulates the pressure all the way out.
    • Put the new tank on the system.
    • After making sure every thing is tight, open the valve and turn the screw to the right until the desired pressure is set.
    • Re-tap the keg. Once the keg is tapped, double check the regulator pressure to assure the pressure is still holding to the preset.

    What causes foamy beer? TOP

    There can be many reasons, but here are some of the most common ones.

    • Temperature change. (If cold beer hits warm beer lines)
    • A system that isn’t balanced correctly. (Wrong size beer hose and/or CO2 pressure)
    • The cabinet is holding a temperature that is too high.
    • A dirty beer system.

    What temperature should the beer be at the faucet? TOP

    • Beer temperature is a personal preference, but 36 degrees is the usual high temperature limit. By the way, colder beer takes less CO2 pressure to push than warmer beer. 36 degree beer should take around 12 pounds of pressure. Add 1 pound of pressure for every 2 degrees in temperature rise.

    How long will tapped beer last before going flat? TOP

    • Different beer companies have differing ideas on draft beer. Some brewers say a keg should only be on tap for a certain amount of time to insure peak freshness and taste. This mainly pertains to a bar or a restaurant.
    • If tapped with the proper CO2 pressure and kept cold the beer should last quite awhile and never go flat. If anything beer will get a bite to it, as it is being over carbonated.
    • Over carbonation can be prevented by keeping track of when the keg is getting low. If the beer has been on tap for over a month, after drinking your evening beer, un-tap the keg or shut the CO2 off.

    What kind of coupler should I purchase? TOP

    • This depends on the type of beer you are tapping. Most American beers use Sankey couplers. Some may take the 2-probe coupler. Import beers take a different coupler, depending upon where the beer is coming from. You should confirm the keg coupler type with your local beer supplier.

    Following is a listing of some common keg coupler and beer brand combinations. Please be aware that local brewer’s kegs may not always conform to these suggested couplers.

    How big is a keg of beer (in inches)? TOP

    • They can vary a little. Standard straight walled Sankey kegs are generally between 15” to 17” in diameter and 23” to 25” high. You will need approximately 28” in height to make this work in a converted refrigerator beer system. Local and micro brewers and regional brewers may use different cooperage. Please consult your beer provider for further details.
    • Half kegs contain 16 gallons of beer; Quarter kegs (pony kegs) contain 8 gallons of beer.
    • Micro brewers and home brewers will often use 5 gallon bulk tanks (often called Cornelius tanks) that measure 8-1/2” in diameter and 25-1/4” tall.

    What is the best CO2 tank size to purchase? TOP

    • A 5 pound tank is the most common. This will dispense approximately six to eight 16-gallon kegs with the regulator set for 12 pounds of pressure.

    FOR MULTIPLE KEG DISPENSING TOP

    For CO2 applications with multiple kegs, it is best to purchase these additions to the kits listed above:

    • One coupler for each keg (catalog number depends on choice)
    • One 3/16” beer hose assembly for each keg-to-tower connection (PC176D)
    • CO2 hose for each coupler, usually 4 to 5 feet each. (171R, sold by the foot)
    • Clamps for each end of the CO2 hose (2379, two required per hose length)
    • For same pressure CO2 applications use one CO2 add on line kit per faucet (RP799) or a CO2 distributor as follows:

    2 keg (204)
    3 keg (204A)
    4 keg (204B)

    • For systems needing different pressures from the same CO2 bottle:

    2 keg (3N122)
    3 keg (3N133)
    4 keg (3N144)

    • Another length of CO2 hose (171R) plus clamps to run from the CO2 distributor to the CO2 tank.
    • A regulator of your choice
    • A CO2 tank of your choice.

    The CO2 tank shipped empty, where do I purchase CO2? TOP

    • CO2 tanks always ship empty due to transportation regulations against shipping pressurized containers.
    • Your CO2 tank can be filled by most welding supply houses, or from your beverage provider.

    In many areas, expect to exchange your empty tank for a filled one, much like a gas grill LP bottle exchange. Exchange programs are desirable because the gas provider is responsible for testing and maintaining tank integrity.

    HAND OPERATED BEER PUMPS (PICNIC PUMPS) TOP

    Rapids sell over two dozen different hand operated beer pumps. Is one style better than another? TOP

    • As you might expect, price indicates durability of construction when it comes to picnic pumps.
    • All picnic pumps operate on the principle of pressurizing the beer keg with air to move beer up through the line to the faucet.
    • Each picnic pump consists of a pump handle, pump chamber and a built-in keg coupler. (Please see the “Brands of Beer and Keg Fitting” chart in the coil / cold plate cooler section above to select the correct pump for your beer brand.)
    • The type of pump purchased can depend on the application.
      • Most Caterers and Banquet facilities will select rod style pumps for their cleaner look and function.

    Beer resellers and others who rent picnic pumps often choose less expensive pumps with long flexible “cobra head” faucets for their low entry cost and ease of maintenance.

    Do hand operated “picnic” pumps ship complete? TOP

    • Hand operated picnic pumps do ship complete and ready to use.

    For All Portable Dispensers:

    • Always keep the keg out of direct sun, wrap the keg in keg jacket (KGV1 or 651) and keep it iced.
    • Remember, kegs draw beer from the bottom. Keep the keg iced on the bottom 1/3 and an insulating jacket on the top.
    • Check and replace the air piston gaskets and rings frequently. Use pump lube to help keep a good seal and minimize damage from pumping action.
    • Clean out the beer lines, coils or cold plate, and the pump’s faucet hose after each use to prevent bacterial growth. For coil and cold plate clean out, use a cleaning assembly similar to our 3K623 and our beer line cleaner BLC1 for best results.
    • After cleaning and before storage, make sure to clear any liquid out of the coils or cold plate by blowing CO2 through the assembly.

    Why does the faucet drip? Is there a rebuild kit? TOP

    • For coil / cold plate coolers and rod type picnic pumps: The shaft seat (110032) is worn out or the internal parts of the faucet are dirty and need to be cleaned. See the diagrams at the end of this booklet for part names and catalog numbers.
    • For “cobra head” style picnic pumps purchase a new assembly 5R124 with coupler nut or 5R124 for clamp type attachment.

    Most parts for the coil / cold plate coolers and the hand pumps are available for repairs or reconditioning. Please see the “Parts Lists and Diagrams” section at the end of this document.




    Long Draw Beer Systems

     

    Long draw beer delivery systems are designed for high volume beer dispensing. Long draw systems rely on a walk-in cooler to store tapped kegs of beer, long beer lines of greater than 5 feet, and a means of keeping the beer cold between the walk-in and the dispensing point.

    There are two common types of long draw systems: Long Draw Beer SystemsTOP

    Long Draw Beer Systems

    Air shaft – Requires two ducts, the first style carries fan forced cold air and the beer lines as they leave the walk-in cooler up to the beer tower. The second duct is for the return air flow back to the walk-in cooler. In the second style, the ducts are nested and the interior duct contains the multiple beer lines and fan forced cold air from the cooler to the tower. The exterior duct carries the outflow cold air back to the cooler. Either ducting method is insulated with ½” to 1” insulating foam tubes.

    Air shaft systems are very easy to install and maintain, but are limited to run lengths of 25 feet or less. In addition, curves and bends in the run of the ducting must be kept to a minimum. Curves and bends cause turbulence in the cold air delivery and suffocate the air flow.

    Long Draw Beer Systems faqs

    Glycol Chilled System – Glycol is non-evaporating refrigeration liquid. Its properties allow it to achieve cold temperatures without freezing. In a glycol system the multiple beer lines are combined side by side with glycol lines which are in turn bundled inside of an insulating foam rubber tube. The assembly of lines and insulated tube is referred to as a trunk line (illustration C above). Each beer line must be in contact with one of the glycol lines. Because of this need for constant contact multiple glycol lines will be needed for trunk lines with more than six beer lines in them.

    By chilling the liquid glycol and pumping it into lines that run alongside the beer lines, the beer is maintained within one degree of the temperature in the walk-in cooler. It is important to note that the glycol lines themselves can’t chill the beer! They simply help maintain the temperature of the beer on its trip from the walk-in cooler to the faucet.

    Both air cooled and glycol cooled systems need the same mechanics to move the beer from the walk-in cooler to the faucet. The kegs must be pressurized to force the beer through the lines to the faucets. There are three ways to move the beer through the lines: straight CO2 pressure, mixed gas pressure, and beer pumps.

    Straight CO2 is the most common method of pushing the beer through the lines. It is cost effective and easy to understand. A bulk CO2 tank is connected to the keg through a coupler, the keg is pressurized and the beer moves up through the beer line.

    As easy of a concept as CO2 pressurization is, there are many factors that have to be accounted for. The very beer lines themselves add resistance to the beer’s movement, and that resistance grows as the lines get longer. As beer lines get longer, CO2 pressure at the keg would have to be increased.

    As with anything else that must be physically moved, gravity comes into play. If the beer is to be moved vertically, more force is required to push it as compared to a level line of travel. The steeper and longer the line run, the more force must be exerted to move the beer upward - about 1/2 pound of pressure per foot of rise. Conversely, every foot of drop in the elevation of the line run would require deducting the same ½ pound of pressure.

    Surprisingly, beer is actually quite “tender”. Beer is sensitive to temperature, pressure, over exposure to air or other gases, changes in restriction and simply age. If any one of these factors is out of balance, the taste and appearance of the dispensed beer can be severely affected.

    For a long draw beer system, we have already discussed temperature changes. Both the air cooled and glycol cooled systems help in this area. But as the CO2 gas pressure is increased to move the beer through very long or steep lines, the beer will become over carbonated. Sometimes, mixing CO2 with a gas that doesn’t interact with the beer can help with over carbonation. The most common gases to use are nitrogen and air.

    CO2 and air mixed gas systems are the least expensive, but they are normally found in only the most high volume businesses. The CO2 / Air mixture cannot be in contact with beer for long before the beer goes flat and oxidizes. (There are some clubs that use air only to pressurize their systems. But a keg tends to be on tap for only an hour before it is empty and needs to be changed out. Even at this brisk pace the last beer may not be as good as the first due to oxidation and the beer losing carbonation in contact with the air).

    A solution is to use an inert gas that doesn’t interact with either the CO2 or the beer. Nitrogen is the gas most commonly used. A system using nitrogen as the mixer gas with CO2 diminishes the chances of both over carbonation and oxidation. The down side is that nitrogen must be purchased in bulk tanks and delivered by the gas vendor.

    (It should be noted that certain stout beers require the use of nitrogen as a mixing gas.)

    Increasingly, beer pumps are being used to overcome the downside of using mixed gases. A beer pump is a mechanical device that uses CO2 pressure to power a diaphragm that in turn moves the beer through the lines. CO2 is still used to pressurize the kegs to around 12 to 15 pounds, and CO2 powers the pump. However, the CO2 used as pump power never contacts the beer. Using a beer pump allows using as much pressure as needed to move beer upward or through long lines without the risk of over carbonation or the expense of a mixing gas and gas blender. One beer pump is required for each beer line within the trunk line.

    Long Draw Beer Systems machine

    FOR MULTIPLE KEG DISPENSING TOP

    For CO2 applications with multiple kegs, the following equipment is needed:

    • One coupler for each keg (catalog number depends on choice)
    • CO2 hose for each coupler, usually 4 to 5 feet each. (171R, sold by the foot)
    • Clamps for each end of the CO2 hose (2379, two required per hose length)
    • For same pressure CO2 applications use one CO2 add on line kit per faucet (RP799) or a CO2 distributor as follows:

    2 keg
    3 keg (204A)
    4 keg (204B)

    Long Draw Beer Systems guide

    • For systems needing different pressures from the same CO2 bottle:

    2 keg (3N122)
    3 keg (3N133)
    4 keg (3N144)

    Beer Systems

    • Another length of CO2 hose (171R) plus clamps to run from the CO2 distributor to the CO2 tank.
    • A regulator of your choice
    • A CO2 tank of your choice.
    • Note: The primary regulator on the CO2 bottle must be set to read a line pressure 5 pounds higher than the highest setting on a secondary regulator.

    Preventing waste with blown keg detectors. TOP

    “Blowing a keg”, which means unknowingly running a beer keg empty and allowing CO2 to fill the beer lines, is a problem with long draw systems. When there is no more beer to dispense from a keg, gas is allowed into the beer lines. An emptied beer line must have the gas eliminated from it, and refilled with beer (referred to as repacking the lines). This can be time consuming and wasteful of product – even worse if it happens at a peak serving time. The trick is catching a keg after it empties and before the CO2 gets into the beer line.

    Several devices are available to help prevent gas entry into the beer lines. All of them share the same principal of detecting gas as soon as it exits from the keg, and then shutting down dispensing. After replacing the now empty keg, a small amount of trapped CO2 is bled off and the line is ready to use and in service.

    WHERE TO START? TOP

    The first question to answer is: How much distance is there between the walk-in cooler and the faucet on the beer tower?

    If this distance is greater than 25 feet, a glycol system should be used. Less than 25 feet decide between a glycol system and an air cooled system.

    Next, decide on the number of beer faucets that will be used. This will help determine how many beer lines will be in each of the trunk lines.

    Decide how many beer towers are to be installed, the number of faucets on each tower and their locations on the bar or bars. If there are multiple tower locations on a bar, note the distance between them.

    Please note that a glycol system that supplies multiple bars or towers may need additional glycol pumps added to the chiller. Large venues may require multiple glycol chillers and walk-in coolers.

    Describe in writing the run for each trunk line (glycol OR air cooled). An example would be: Rise five feet from the keg to the ceiling, runs 25 feet horizontally, and rises 8 feet to the bar, runs three feet horizontally, and rises 2 feet to the tower faucet. This will help determine both the trunk line length and the beer line diameter. Ten feet should be added to each trunk line measurement for installation waste. Please be aware that trunk line can only bend as tight as a 30” radius curve.

    Make a decision between CO2, mixed gas or beer pump pressure for the beer system depending on line lengths and amount of lift required to reach the dispensing point.

    Once these questions have been answered, a Rapids Certified Draft Beer Technician can assist with the final layout and the proper products required completing the system.




    Home conversion Kits

    What is the difference between the steel and the aluminum CO2 tank?
    The CO2 tank shipped empty, where do I purchase CO2?
    What kind of coupler should I purchase?
    What is the proper CO2 pressure to use? Does the beer type matter?
    How long (how many kegs) should a CO2 bottle last?
    What is the advantage of a double vs. single regulator?
    How big is a keg of beer (in inches)?
    How do I change the CO2 bottle mid-keg?
    What causes foamy beer?
    What temperature should the beer be at the faucet?
    How long will tapped beer last before going flat?
    Line cleaning chemicals, which to use when?
    Keg Cooler Maintenance Tips

    HOME CONVERSION KITS FOR CONSUMER UPRIGHT REFRIGERATORS TOP

    Home conversion Kits Faq

    An alternative for the home user to purchasing a factory made keg dispenser is the refrigerator conversion kit. These kits come with everything needed to convert a consumer upright refrigerator into a home beer dispenser.

    The choice of the refrigerator used for conversion is important. Many older refrigerators were “cold wall” designs, meaning that the refrigeration lines ran throughout the case of the upright. These refrigerators aren’t suitable for conversion to keg dispensing, since holes will need to be drilled through the case and could puncture the refrigeration lines.

    In addition, the chosen refrigerator must have sufficient space to hold a keg and enough interior head room to allow for the coupler and lines. 28 inches is considered the minimum interior height required.

    Please be aware the most “dorm” sized refrigerators don’t have sufficient cooling power to chill even the smaller 8 gallon (pony) kegs. 1/5 horsepower compressors are recommended in the refrigerators chosen for conversion.

    Following the instructions in the conversion kit, a hole is drilled in the door or wall of the refrigerator, a shank with a beer faucet is assembled in the hole, the coupler is attached to the beer line and the CO2 line. Lastly, the keg is tapped using the coupler.

    Following are the most common questions about converted refrigerator beer dispensing:

    What is the difference between the steel and the aluminum CO2 tank? TOP

    • Mainly the weight. They both work and distribute the gas the same way.
    • Steel tanks may rust after several years use inside of a keg cooler.
    • No matter which tank is chosen, make sure it stands upright and never lay it down its side. There is liquid CO2 in this and will ruin your regulator and beer.

    The CO2 tank shipped empty, where do I purchase CO2? TOP

    • CO2 tanks always ship empty due to transportation regulations against shipping pressurized containers.
    • Your CO2 tank can be filled by most welding supply houses, or from your beverage provider.

    In many areas, expect to exchange your empty tank for a filled one, much like a gas grill LP bottle exchange. Exchange programs are desirable because the gas provider is responsible for testing and maintaining tank integrity.

    What kind of coupler should I purchase? TOP

    • This depends on the type of beer you are tapping. Most American beers use Sankey couplers. Some may take the 2-probe coupler. Import beers take a different coupler, depending upon where the beer is coming from. You should confirm the keg coupler type with your local beer supplier.

    Following is a listing of some common keg coupler and beer brand combinations. Please be aware that local brewer’s kegs may not always conform to these suggested couplers.

    What is the proper CO2 pressure to use? Does the beer type matter? TOP

    • On a regular beer system (short run), with the proper line sizing (5’ of 3/16” I.D. soft beer line) you should use around 12 pounds of pressure. Light beer may take a pound or two more pressure.

    How long (how many kegs) should a CO2 bottle last? TOP

    • A 5-pound CO2 bottle will dispense six to eight 16-gallon kegs using 12 pounds of pressure or around ¾ of a pound per keg.

    What is the advantage of a double vs. single regulator? TOP

    • The single gauge regulator will only tell you how much pressure in going into your keg.
    • A double gauge regulator will show line pressure and it will also indicate how much gas is left in the tank. This way you can see when you are getting low (down to the red section) and need a refill.

    How big is a keg of beer (in inches)? TOP

    • They can vary a little. Standard straight walled Sankey kegs are generally between 15” to 17” in diameter and 23” to 25” high. You will need approximately 28” in height to make this work in a converted refrigerator beer system. Local and micro brewers and regional brewers may use different cooperage. Please consult your beer provider for further details.
    • Half kegs contain 16 gallons of beer; Quarter kegs (pony kegs) contain 8 gallons of beer.
    • Micro brewers and home brewers will often use 5 gallon bulk tanks (often called Cornelius tanks) that measure 8-1/2” in diameter and 25-1/4” tall.

    How do I change the CO2 bottle mid-keg? TOP

    • Shut off the valve on top of the CO2 tank and un-tap the keg.
    • Back the screw that regulates the pressure all the way out.
    • Put the new tank on the system.
    • After making sure every thing is tight, open the valve and turn the screw to the right until the desired pressure is set.
    • Re-tap the keg. Once the keg is tapped, double check the regulator pressure to assure the pressure is still holding to the preset.

    What causes foamy beer? TOP

    There can be many reasons, but here are some of the most common ones.

    • Temperature change. (If cold beer hits warm beer lines)
    • A system that isn’t balanced correctly. (Wrong size beer hose and/or CO2 pressure)
    • The cabinet is holding a temperature that is too high.
    • A dirty beer system.

    What temperature should the beer be at the faucet? TOP

    • Beer temperature is a personal preference. Colder beer takes less CO2 pressure to push than warmer beer. 36 degree beer should take around 12 pounds of pressure. Add 1 pound of pressure for every 2 degrees in temperature rise. When a system is set up properly, the beer temperature should be within 1 degree of what it is in the storage area.

    How long will tapped beer last before going flat? TOP

    • Different beer companies have differing ideas on draft beer. Some brewers say a keg should only be on tap for a certain amount of time to insure peak freshness and taste. This mainly pertains to a bar or a restaurant.
    • If tapped with the proper CO2 pressure and kept cold the beer should last quite awhile and never go flat. If anything beer will get a bite to it, if it becomes over carbonated.
    • Over carbonation can be prevented by keeping track of when the keg is getting low. If the beer has been on tap for over a month, after drinking your evening beer, un-tap the keg or shut the CO2 off. (More applicable to home or low volume user)

    Line cleaning chemicals, which to use when? TOP

    • For a home brewer or someone with a home keg box, the super no-rinse NC837, PLC1 powdered cleaner or BLC1 liquid concentrate are good cleaners.
    • It’s best to let the solution sit in the line for a while before flushing to dissolve any sediment or scale buildup on the line’s interior walls.
    • Remember, it’s not only what is used, but how often it is used. Get on a cleaning schedule and stick with it.

    Keg Cooler Maintenance Tips TOP

    • Remember to clean the refrigeration coils of your refrigerator as recommended in your owner’s manual.
    • If you will not be using your keg box for several days and the keg is low, remove the CO2 pressure by decoupling your kegs. Constant CO2 pressure will over carbonate the beer, causing foam and a “bite” to the beer’s flavor.
    • If your coupler has a ball in it, you will need to lift the ball to allow the cleaning solution to pass through. Rapids Sankey Ball Valve Lifter FT137 is the correct tool for this job. In a pinch a wire coat hanger can be bent to fit, but may damage the ball valve. (Most operators who have short beer lines of 4 to 5 feet remove the ball valves from their couplers before putting them in service.)



    Parts Lists and Diagrams


    Standard Faucets (pictured on right):

    A – Knob (4301)
    B – Chrome Lever Collar (110008)
    B – Brass Lever Collar (110008B)
    C – Chrome Lever Bonnet (1100625)
    C – Brass Lever Bonnet (110625B)
    D – Friction Washer (110015)
    E – Ball Washer – (150055)
    F – Brass Knob Lever (110018)
    F – S.S Knob Lever (110018SS)
    G – Coupling Gasket (110036)
    H – Chrome Shaft (1100625)
    H – Brass Shaft (110626B)
    I – Shaft Seat (110032)
    J – Shaft Nut (110033)
    K – Shaft Assembly w/ Seat and Nut - chrome only (110060)

    Perlick Faucets (pictured on right):

    A – Knob (4301)
    B – Perlick Lever Collar (8P142)
    C – Perlick Chrome Lever Bonnet (8P143)
    C – Perlick Brass Lever Bonnet (8P141)
    F – Perlick Brass Knob Lever 8P158
    F – Perlick S.S Knob Lever (8P145)
    H – Perlick Chrome Shaft (8P147)
    H – Perlick Brass Shaft (8P144)
    I – Perlick Shaft Seat (8P146)
    J – Shaft Nut (8P140)
    K – Shaft Assembly w/ Seat and Nut - chrome only (8P150)

     

    For Perlick Couplers

    B – Ball (2S413)
    - - Ball O-ring (8P118)
    G –Probe O-ring (2S032)
    J – Check valve (2S054)
    K – Check valve washer 2S069
    T – Handle 8P321
    - - Handle screw 8P398

    Unique Parts For 2G525 and 2G530 Couplers

    A – Ball stop 2G117
    G – Probe O-ring (2G139)*
    - - Gas nipple / tail piece (2G151)
    J – Check valve(2G162)
    - - Check valve O-ring (FT8621)
    * 3 required per probe

    Sanke Assembly for 3" Towers:

    A – Coupling Nut (Chrome RF5, Brass RF5B)
    B – Shank (¼” Bore RF46, 3/16” Bore RF87)
    C – Plastic Spacer, 3” Tower (Chrome RF88, Brass RF88B)
    D – Inside Flange (RF89)
    E – Lock Nut (RF91)
    F – Rubber Grommet RF93 or 3/16 RF92
    G – Compression Nut (¼” RF95 or 3/16” - RF94)
    H – Elbow, Stainless (¼” - RF97 or 3/16” - RF96)

    A – Lock Ring RF7 B – Coupling Sleeve (RF6)
    C – Chrome Coupling Nut (RF5) C – Brass Coupling Nut (RF5B)
    Not Shown – Shank Flange Washer (RF85)
    E – Shank Flange Washer (plastic RF2, Stainless RF2S, brass RF2B)
    F – Shank Nut


     

     

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