How to Clean a Jockey Box
Picture yourself sitting at the bar, watching the bartender pour your beer. They grab a clean glass that was washed, rinsed, sanitized, and properly stored to air dry after its previous use.
If you’re lucky, the bartender will take the extra step to give your glass a quick rinse to remove any residual sanitizer before pouring your beer. We appreciate that, right?
Okay, now imagine being served a dirty glass with stale beer still in it from the last guy—that wasn’t properly cleaned. Disgusting, right?! Well, the same applies to your jockey box.
You can protect the quality of what you’re serving to your guests by following a few easy end-of-day cleaning procedures.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Whether you’re unboxing a brand new jockey box or have one that’s got some miles on it, we
recommend the following cleaning procedure before a jockey box’s initial, VERY first use and immediately after every subsequent use.
It’ll not only keep your beer flowing smoothly, but because we can’t see inside the stainless steel coils, we want to make sure that we’re always dispensing fresh beer through a clean system.
Let’s start by identifying the supplies you’ll need. Then, we’ll walk you through the 3-step process.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
You’ll use it to flush your cleaner and sanitizer through your jockey box. There are other options on the market, but if you use one that has sankey D connections, you can not only clean your jockey box, but also your couplers, beverage jumpers, and faucets all in one shot.
For you brewery people out there, this is essentially what we know as “cleaning-in-place.” No need to disassemble anything.
We recommend an environmentally-friendly alkaline cleaner. It’s particularly effective in removing the organic buildup that will occur naturally over time through normal use. And, it’s safe on the components in your jockey box.
You don’t wanna cut corners on cleaner. Never use dish soap or ordinary household solutions internally, or abrasives like steel wool or sandpaper for any exterior scrubbing.
For a sanitizer, we recommend an odorless, flavorless, and biodegradable acid-based sanitizer that’s high-foaming, which makes it great in penetrating all those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
While we’ll push it through our jockey box with our cleaning keg, it can also be put in a spray bottle and applied to other surfaces, like your coupler and gas and beer lines with a soft, non-abrasive towel or cloth.
PREP FOR CLEANING
A clean jockey box system is simply good business. You NEVER want to allow beer or any other beverage to sit idle inside the coils after a day’s use. And, this means overnight, too—IF you don’t intend to resume service tomorrow with the same kegs you used today. So, again—to be REALLY clear—jockey boxes should be cleaned immediately after every use.
At the end of your event, close all CO2 valves. Then, pull the relief valve on your coupler to release the excess pressure in the keg. If there’s any beer leftover that you intend to tap tomorrow, you’ll need to re-pressurize your keg.
STEP 1: CLEAN
Our cleaning keg is the workhorse in this process. It has two Sankey D-style coupler connections, which allow us the ability to clean two lines at the same time.
To add your cleaner, dissolve 1 oz of PBW per gallon of hot water.
IMPORTANT: When diluting any chemical concentrate, it’s important to always add the chemical to water—never the other way around.
Once you’ve prepped your cleaning solution and sealed the lid, give it a couple shakes to help it dissolve.
Attach and engage your couplers just like you would to a keg. This effectively redirects your CO2 to your cleaning keg.
Then, open your faucet to push the solution into your jockey box until it fills the coils completely, and let it soak for 20 minutes.
While you wait, this is a perfect time to wipe down your gas and beverage tubing with your sanitizer solution in a spray bottle. We’ll show you how to mix that solution in a minute as well.
STEP 2: RINSE
Immediately after cleaning, we’re going to rinse the entire system with hot water. DO NOT allow alkaline cleaners to dry in or on a jockey box’s stainless steel components.
Follow the same process as we did with cleaning, just minus the solution. Disengage and detach the coupler, fill your cleaning keg with hot water, reattach your coupler, and exhaust the rinse water through your jockey box.
STEP 3: SANITIZE & PURGE
Similar to cleaning in Step 1, we’re now going to use our sanitizer. But, note! The ratio of sanitizer to water is more diluted than our cleaner. We’ll add 1 oz to every FIVE gallons of water.
Open the faucet and allow the sanitizer to be in contact with the coils for at least 1-2 minutes so it can do its job. Since you’re using a no-rinse sanitizer, all you have to do is let your cleaning keg run dry, leaving CO2 to purge your coils.
END OF DAY PROCEDURES
Click over to this post for recommendations for end of day procedures, including dumping ice, exterior care, and how to store your jockey box when not in use.
By following the proper cleaning procedures you’re doing the right thing by setting up the next person who uses it for success. Taking care of your jockey box by cleaning it regularly will protect your investment and provide a lifetime of reliable use.