How to Clean Keg Lines (Without Kit)

One of the biggest issues in a brewery, whether it is a large facility or your garage home brewery, is cleaning. Once you’ve chosen your grain and your yeast and started to perfect your brew, you’re going to have kegs full of beer. Brewers selling beer in breweries and pubs will have many, many kegs. And each one of those kegs will have lines. Sure, many people will tell you to just get a kit, but what do you do if you don’t have a kit? Or if you’ve ordered one and you’re waiting for its arrival?

Fortunately, you don’t need a kit. All of the supplies necessary to get your lines clean are likely available at your local hardware store or your local beverage store. So, if you’re wondering how to clean keg lines without a kit, look no further. Your answers are here.

Why Is Cleaning Keg Lines Necessary?

First, you might be wondering why cleaning keg lines is even necessary. After all, we’re dealing with alcohol, and alcohol kills everything, right?

While the truth is that alcohol does indeed kill more than 99% of bacteria and other harmful toxins, when it comes to beer, we’re not really worried about getting sick. It is highly unlikely you’ll get sick from beer run through dirty keg lines.

What may happen, however, is that your beer tastes off.

That’s right.

Keg lines that are not cleaned regularly will collect myriad nasty invaders like mold, excess yeast, bacteria, and beer stone. Each of these elements has the potential to deliver an entirely different effect at the other end of the line when that beer comes pouring from the tap.

Your customers may get a mouthful of something they were not expecting, making them less likely to return.

All of those elements also have the potential to contaminate your entire brewery and then your vessels of beer, sneaking into the fermenter and creating off-flavors in fermenting beers. A single dirty keg line could contaminate your whole operation.

So, you see why keeping your keg lines clean is a critical component of running a brewery?

Also read: Can you clean keg lines with vinegar?

How Often Should I Clean Keg Lines?

Fortunately, keeping keg lines clean is not difficult, labor intensive, or time consuming if you do it regularly.

Common practice is to clean keg lines once every two weeks, so set a schedule on the same day of the week, every two weeks, and knock this task out.

For home brewers, guidelines say you can go longer, but, really, why wait?

Sure, you may be running less beer through your lines, but you’re still passing beer through those lines, and if you’re not cleaning it, it’s still sitting there. The longer beer sits in the lines, the more potential you have to build up bacteria and other contaminants in those lines.

Wherever your kegs are, definitely be sure you clean your keg lines each time you swap out your kegs.

Once you get on a regular schedule, you can feel good about serving great beer in a clean environment. No unpleasant surprises for your customers.

How to Clean Keg Lines without a Kit

Despite what anyone says, you can clean your keg lines without a kit. The most important part of the cleaning process is to take apart all of the different components of the keg and the tap, so you clean inside all the nooks and crannies. Remove all the lines from their outlets and run them through your cleaning solution as well.

In terms of which solution to use, you’ll want a chemical powerful enough to get rid of building up mold, mildew, yeast, and bacteria but not so harsh or permanent that it stays behind in your lines and doesn’t rinse well.

You don’t want to cause scratches or abrasions in your lines or corrode the materials. These mishaps could lead to an even greater buildup of bacteria and other invaders down the line.

In terms of equipment, you’ll need:

  • Beer line cleaning solution (again, you can pick this up at pretty much any hardware store or beverage store)
  • Cleaning Pump
  • Spanner Wrench
  • Keg Lifter (so you can remove the ball from the coupler)
  • Brush to scrub the faucet
  • Bucket to collect parts

To clean your keg lines and tap, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your CO2 and disconnect your keg from the coupler and disconnect the coupler from the lines.
  2. Unscrew the faucet and disassemble it.
  3. Place the coupler and faucet parts in the bucket.
  4. Pour one cap full of beer cleaning solution into your cleaning pump and fill it the rest of the way with hot water.
  5. Attach the cleaning pump to the faucet and make sure the connection is tight.
  6. Clean your lines by pumping the solution through them, allowing the solution to come out into the empty bucket with your parts.
  7. When your pump is empty of solution, fill it with cold water and pump the lines through again to fully rinse them.
  8. Scrub and rinse the parts in your bucket, reattach all of your parts and lines, and turn your CO2 back on.

Now you’re good to go for another two weeks!

In the end, you only do yourself, your beer, and your customers a service by keeping your keg lines clean, and as you can see, the process is simple and straightforward. You can knock it out in no time and your customers can trust that they’ll always have fresh, clean beer.

Cheers!


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