There’s nothing like a fresh draft beer, poured right from the tap. In the U.S., draft beer sales are increasing annually, accounting for about one in 10 servings in 2011, according to the Beer Institute. For the microbrewer, draft beer represents nearly one-third of sales.

Many U.S. establishments are following a trend set long ago in Europe and other parts of the world, where serving draft beer has become the norm. Maintaining draft beer’s quality and freshness, however, requires more than simply attaching a tube to a pump and turning on the tap.

Draft beer in a keg is unpasteurized, so any beer dispense system has to be designed with freshness in mind. Relying on “one-size-fits-all” gas mixtures delivered in tanks to push beer out of the keg is one method of serving, but an improperly dispensed gas mix can easily spoil a beer’s flavor. It can also over-pressurize the brew, making it too foamy.

Alternatively, using beer pumps not only maintains the beer’s taste, it also means an above-average yield can be poured from a keg. By reducing waste caused from over-pouring, beer pumps can provide customers with quality draft beer and a great presentation through the last of every keg.

The smart pump way

In the U.K., many brewers own the pub where their product is served. To serve their brews, they often rely on beer pumps (recognized by the Brewers Association in the U.S.) that move beer to a tap or faucet.

Draft beers, especially microbrews, often have an ideal pressure that is designed into the presentation of a perfect draft. Inside the keg, it’s important to have the proper CO2 pressure desired by the brewer. A mixed gas system doesn’t always support the need for precise serving pressures.

The perfect set-up

Most beer pump systems require two operational pressures: CO2 pressure in the keg or tank that maintains beer carbonation, and a separate pressure to the pump that propels the beer to the tap.

G56 pumps from Flojet®, a Xylem brand, are designed to dispense beer with specified pressure, through long or short, vertical or horizontal beer lines. The pump, driven by air or gas, applies the proper amount of pressure to the keg to ensure the correct internal carbonation. The air or gas powering the G56 pump never touches the beer as it's pushed to the tap. This helps prevent flat or tainted beer resulting from impure air contamination or oxidization. The pumps can produce a precise, consistent draft that doesn’t foam, helping proprietors serve the last drop of beer in a keg while still maintaining taste.

The Flojet G56 pumps are quiet and can be designed into any space up to 800 feet away from the taps. Mixed gas systems generally can only pump beer up to 200 feet away. The G56 pumps are wall-mounted and use no electricity. They can deliver beer up to 100 feet vertically through a single line, at a rate of 300 gallons per hour. From the keg to the tap, draft beer is delivered through plastic tubing. Sometimes the lines run from a back room where the beer barrels are kept at a preset serving temperature. To keep the beer running cold, the lines can also be bundled with a chiller system. Parallel tubes are filled with chilled glycol.

There are about 1 million G56 pumps operating in the U.K. Each pump has a service life of approximately 70,000 gallons, and each pump is capable of dispensing up to five faucets or taps from a single keg or keg series. Around the world, these pumps pour more than 18 million pints each day.

Clean lines mean lower costs

A beer dispense system needs to be cleaned frequently. A poorly maintained unit will result in lost profit, not only from foaming and over-pouring, but also from customers who will stop buying draft beer. Beer lines, along with the pumps and serving taps, should all be worked over to prevent bacteria from growing and spoiling the flavor of the beer.

Xylem’s G56 pumps are easy to clean and maintain. The G56 can be used as a line-cleaning pump by disconnecting the keg coupler and submerging it in cleaning solution. The pump will draw solution in and pump it through the system to the faucet.

Systems using Flojet G56 pumps also reduce the costs incurred from gas consumption, cylinder rentals, and spoilage. The overall cost of ownership has an upfront investment that will pay for itself by eliminating the need for gas blenders, cylinder rentals, and gas container storage.

Profits pour from a keg

In the U.S., the average yield from a keg is generally estimated to be between 70 to 82 percent, according to the Beer Institute and the Brewers Association. With the growing trend of using pumps over mixed gases, however, wasted beer can be reduced and the amount of beer in each keg maximized.

A U.S. keg contains 1,984 ounces of beer. Divide this figure by a typical 16-ounce pint, and it will add up to approximately 124 to 130 mugs of beer, depending on how high the beer is poured and the capacity of the glass. A 12-ounce glass should yield a minimum of 165 servings. When retailed at $3 per glass or more, the gross revenue from a keg is nearly $500.

Maintaining beer quality is essential to optimizing revenue. Improperly mixed gases may fail to raise the beer at the bottom of the keg, without making too much foam. Xylem’s G56 pumps should keep the profits flowing and the customers coming back for fresh-tasting beer.

Expert Takes, Feature