29 September 2023

How often do I need to clean my beer lines? The 7-day rule under the spotlight

How often do I need to clean my beers lines?

How often do I need to clean my beer lines? It’s been a mantra of the industry since the year dot: Beer lines must be cleaned every seven days. But times change and methods move on.

At Avani Solutions, we’re all about interrogating the reasons behind the methods, especially if the result is improved beer quality and increased yield.

Where did the 7-day rule come from?

Let’s consider the origins of the rule. Once beer is out of the brewery’s hands, they can’t be sure how it will be handled.

The state of the lines it’s served through is a major factor, so creating a rule that these must be cleaned every seven days is at least a step on the road to good beer quality.

We’ve also often wondered if the rule is connected to the need to sell kegs (not to be confused with casks!) within seven days of them being broached. Kegs on sale for longer than this can become over-gassed and offer very poor-quality beer.

The 7-day rule was also likely made at a time when line cleaning chemicals simply weren’t as good as they are now.

Caustic soda was the go-to and, let’s be frank, it’s a blunt instrument. Modern line cleaners are more sophisticated.

Next, there is the economy.

Labour costs were lower and beer was cheaper in the past. Line cleans done by pub staff, and chucking away pints of beer every week (as lines are emptied for cleaning) wasn’t the same expensive waste as it is now.

Then there is the changing culture of the pub. Where once most boozers were just that, wet-led and beer-focused, now many are more like a restaurant with a bar.

In these competitive times, pubs and other licensed venues are also tasked with offering any number of additional entertainments, from quiz nights to live music and everything in between.

The 7-day rule is misleading and here’s why

If the standard of cleaning is just average, then it’s best done frequently. This is something that hasn’t changed, and it’s this that reinforces the 7-day rule.

It implies it’s the only way to ensure clean lines and beer quality, but the truth is you can’t guarantee a good outcome simply by cleaning your lines more often.

What matters is the method and, importantly, whether you can measure the outcome.

Give up DIY and say goodbye to 7-day beer line cleans

When it comes to how often lines are cleaned, there is another way. You can outsource the job to the dedicated specialists: Avani Solutions.

Our team of beer quality technicians only has one job, which is to keep your dispense system in tip-top condition.

This means you can extend the interval between cleans from seven days to 28.

At Avani we call this service ProClean. Not only does it make for cleaner lines, but it also frees up more of your time for other tasks vital to keeping your venue up and running.

ProClean is Avani’s scientific approach to line cleaning. It’s a proven process to remove and control yeast, bacterial growth and scale in draught beer line dispense systems.

Avani Beer Quality Technicians are trained to follow our designated cleaning process, using the best chemicals, monitor the results, and only sign off on those results once the lines are clean.

Measured cleaning means demonstrably cleaner lines

The goal of every ProClean visit is to get your lines to the highest ‘A’ standard, and your Beer Quality Technician takes many different readings throughout the Avani line cleaning process.

Of course, just like your profit and loss, what gets measured, gets managed and without that measurement and a proper process in place, it’s just guesswork.

This is also why we developed the Innsights© Dashboard (available via mobile or desktop), included with all ProClean service packages, and is what your Beer Quality Technician uses to record cleaning results, as well as other useful observations made during their visit.

Through Innsights© Dashboard, ProClean clients have access to their beer line cleaning data and get alerted about dispense system issues and more.

ProClean works for cask ale too

The physical process of cleaning keg and cask lines is identical. One difference with cask beers though, is their ideal storage and serving temperatures.

Cask ales are brewed to be stored and served between 11 and 13 degrees, but that increases the likelihood of bacterial growth in beer lines (although there is a trend to serve cask ales at cooler temperatures).

This is why we train our clients on how to care for their cask lines between our visits, to ensure ProClean works as well for cask ale as it does for keg beer.

If ProClean is so good, why isn’t everyone doing extended-interval line cleans?

We won’t deny it. Not every beer dispense system can sustain extended-interval cleaning, even when it’s as good as ProClean!

For example, it’s not appropriate for venues with low throughput and low rates of sale.

Another reason not everyone’s converted to ProClean is that DIY beer line cleaning is something of a grey cost, that isn’t always easy to quantify.

And it’s difficult to make a business case for outsourcing something if you don’t know what doing it yourself costs.

Some food for thought on costs attached to DIY line cleaning:

  1. The wages of the person cleaning the lines
  2. The cost of the cleaning chemicals and gas
  3. The cost of the wasted beer from each 7-day clean
  4. The cost of the water used in each clean

Outsourcing to specialists is seen as an extra cost, but there are savings to be made if you know your numbers, which is a key driver for sustainability.

ProClean enables you to focus on running your pub, restaurant or other venue

At Avani we know every licensee and venue manager needs to be on their A-game to get customers through the door and to keep them coming back. Great quality beer is just one of many aspects that help with this.

Saying goodbye to the 7-day rule and letting Avani Solutions take care of your beer dispense system, from cellar to glass, can save you money and create more time for other tasks.

Why slog through a DIY job every week, when dedicated professionals can do it for you with a once-every-four-week visit?

ProClean is a fully comprehensive beer line cleaning and hygiene service that ensures quality beer dispense from cellar to glass. Use our handy savings calculator to find out how much ProClean could save you.

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