Understanding Draft Beer Tubing: A Straightforward Guide


Draft Beer Tubing

Draft beer systems are fascinating, functioning as the lifeline that transports beer from kegs to your glass. If you've ever been curious about how this works or are considering setting up your own system, here's a clear breakdown of the key components and their functions.

The Main Types of Beer Tubing

  1. Jumper Lines: These are the starting points of the beer's journey from the keg. Typically made from vinyl, jumper lines are favored for their flexibility and ease of use. They are the conduits that connect kegs to the rest of the draft system.

  2. Barrier Tubing: This type of tubing is known for its rigid structure. It's designed to transport beer over long distances within a draft system, ensuring minimal loss of quality or carbonation. Its tough, plastic build is crucial for maintaining the beer’s integrity during transport.

  3. Choker Line: Usually also made from vinyl, choker lines are used to increase the resistance in a system, by reducing the I.D. (internal diameter) of the tubing. This is an important part of balancing the draft system.

Color Coding and Its Purpose

Vinyl beer tubing often comes in various colors. This isn't just for aesthetics; there's practical reasoning behind it:

  • Colored Tubing (Red, Blue, Black): Generally used for gas lines, these colors help distinguish the gas part of the system from the beer part.
  • Clear Tubing: Preferred for beer lines. The transparency allows for easy monitoring of the line's cleanliness and immediate detection of any contamination, such as mold.

Importance of Cleanliness

Clean tubing is essential in a draft beer system. Clear tubing is advantageous in temporary draft systems as it allows for visual inspection, ensuring that hygiene standards are maintained. This is particularly crucial in commercial setups where line cleanliness directly affects the quality and taste of the beer served.

Fittings and Attachments

  • Tail Pieces: These act as connectors between different sections of the tubing and other components of the draft system.
  • Beer Nuts and Washers: These ensure a tight, leak-proof connection between different parts of the system.
  • Clamps: Essential for securing the tubing in place, these can be either permanent (otiker clamps) or adjustable (worm clamps).

Sizing and Compatibility

A critical aspect of setting up beer tubing is understanding the sizing, specifically the internal and outside diameters. Correct sizing is crucial for ensuring compatibility with various fittings and ensuring a secure, leak-proof system.

Ease of Use with Wing Nuts

Wing nuts are a convenient alternative to traditional hex nuts, especially in temporary or movable setups. They allow for easy hand-tightening, facilitating quicker assembly and disassembly.