One of the most important components of a draft beer system, and often the most overlooked, is the faucet. If a faucet is properly maintained, the beer will flow through the faucet smooth and silky. If the faucet is not kept clean or damaged it can cause the beer to foam and this will lead to lots of beer being poured down the drain. Also, if the faucet is not properly maintained, the beer can develop an “off taste” or worse yet, appear cloudy and not very appealing.
Opening the Faucet
Many people think that you need to grab the faucet handle at the top, and then yank it forward to open it, and jam it back to close it. This misconception probably comes from people watching “bartenders” in the movies pulling on the top of the beer faucets as if they were handles you need to hang on to. Those brightly colored, large handles provided by beer companies are actually advertising pieces designed to promote their beers. Pulling on the top of that fancy handle will lead to broken and damaged faucets.
The correct way to operate a standard faucet is to place two/three fingers on the bottom of the faucet handle, and then to quickly snap the faucet forward to open. When done pouring, use your thumb and two fingers on the base of the handle to quickly snap the handle back for the faucet to close.
The correct way to operate a stout faucet is to move the handle forward to allow the beer to flow. Pushing the handle all the way back allows for creaming the beer to create the foam. A stout faucet is closed when the handle is in the upright position.
Cleaning the Faucet
Another important maintenance procedure is regular cleaning, use the specially designed faucet wrench to remove the faucet. By using a small soft brush and warm water simply brush around the outside of the faucet and up into the faucet opening. Brushing all around the coupling nut and flange can help to ensure that there are no sediment build-ups. The internal parts of the standard faucet and stout faucet should also be cleaned. Be sure to use protective glasses and gloves when using properly diluted beer line cleaning solution to clean the faucet parts.
The brushing will also help to make certain that no “off tastes” develop in your beers. Simply pouring warm water over the fixture at the end of day can help prevent build-up as well.
Having the right type of faucet, using a faucet correctly and maintaining a proper schedule for cleaning will add life to your system, and improve the quality of your draft beer!