Beer Dispense A-Z

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In a series of posts I’m going to attempt to explain some of the grittier details about the most neglected area of the whole beer scene in the UK. Something we aren’t talking about but we should be- dispense. No, not the whole keg/cask thing (yet) again, but rather the quality of it. Breweries plough huge amounts of time, effort and money into making sure the beer is the best quality it can be before it leaves the brewery just to have some lazy or clueless publican pour it though dirty lines. I’m always pretty short tempered when I get to an account where they know better but haven’t cleaned their lines. They wouldn’t serve their food from dirty plates and they wouldn’t pour a drink into an unwashed glass. Why compromise your beer in the same way?

A is for

‘A’ Type coupler:

A device that either slides and locks or twists and locks into the keg head fitting on top of the keg. It has two small, usually ½” BSP threads on it, one on the side and one on top. The side fitting allows gas to be injected into the top of the keg, pushing the beer out. The top fitting allows beer to flow out of the keg when pressure is applied. Both the side fitting and top fitting of the keg coupler should have non return valves in them. The non- return on the gas side is a lipped rubber disc, a sort of reed valve.  The non-return on the beer side is shaped like a torpedo and should have a locking ring above it. Normally the treads on the side and top of the coupler should have ½” BSP to 3/8th John Guest fittings attached. This is a pretty unusual coupler shape. The only breweries who I know that use them are Camden, Guinness, Hoeggarden and Carlton United in Australia/

Acetobacter:

Is an airbourne, gram negative, rod shaped bacteria that obtain their energy from converting ethanol into acetic acid, better known as vinegar. I’m sure you have had a pint served to you that would have tasted better sprinkled on your chips than used as a method of refreshment. Lack of cleaning, fruit flies, and cask beer that has been tapped too long are the primary culprits here. Acetobacter can be present in bad beer from the brewery though and is less of an issue in keg systems that are sealed. A particularly common fault in cask beers at particular pub group in London where the managers are given bonuses for 0% wastage on their cask beers. Slops and part finished beers exposed to the air are poured back into the casks which leads me onto:

Autovac:

Yorkshiremen along with the Scots are known for being, um, ‘frugal’. Unsurprising then that the autovac is most prevalent in both of these places. It is a device that catches the slops from an overpoured pint and re-introduces them back into the lines to make up part of the next pint. Imagine if they don’t use a fresh glass every time? The backwash and effluvia of every other drinker. Sounds like a great way to make sure you pour nasty, flat beer to me.

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