« on: November 26, 2013, 10:23:12 AM »
I sometimes marvel at the extremes of practice and opinion in homebrewing that come up on this forum and elsewhere. While a lot of the info can be hearsay and guesses, it's surely a good thing to have a wealth of differing experience informing the discussion. I'm amazed at and grateful for the ideas I pick up reading the contributions.
What comes to mind today are home draft systems and the vastly different upkeep schedules people maintain.
I put draft maintenance behavior on a continuum, one end occupied by those who flush their lines weekly, take apart their taps for cleaning frequently, and are generally draft sanitation obsessed. The other side is held by those who seem to believe less is more or at least good enough. Kegs are refilled and keg after keg go on with nary a line cleaning.
Neither of those extremes is for me. Most of us are in what I think is the healthy middle. Within that, there's a wide variety of beliefs and practices among homebrewers influenced by numerous sources.
So I'd ask, how thoroughly and often do you clean your taps, lines and kegs. And why? How does your setup and situation influence your regimen?
I'll start with my workflow. It seems to work well for me but I am continually open to other practices and philosophies.
I brew small split batches, feeding a squad of 3 gallon kegs. Depending on the quantity and style of the contents, a keg will last between 3 weeks and maybe 9 months. Rarely do I switch kegs until blown since I have decent tap capacity.
Each time a keg blows I rinse it out, add a hot water PBW solution to shake and soak and then pump out through the line. I follow this with BLC/LLC in hot water through the line which seems to eliminate stubborn yeast deposits that resist the PBW/Oxyclean. Then a hot water rinse, shake and flush and it's time to pump StarSan through, leaving in for a few minutes of contact time and then allowing to clear from the keg while blowing the lines clear. Now both keg and lines are CO2-flushed and ready to go.
Doing this when each keg blows for the last couple years I've only run across one real problem...a spout leak from a Perlick 525 SS faucet that developed in the middle of a keg dispense. Started as a post-pour dribbling that made me think I wasn't pushing the handle back all the way, and later evolved into 2 or 3 pints on the floor before I noticed it. I switched out that tap and plan to disassemble and clean/check washers.
Anyway if you survived that wordy intro, I'd love to hear what you do, especially if it's unique or innovative. Also, are there any common practices that you believe unnecessary or even detrimental?