Author Topic: Picnic taps  (Read 3334 times)

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 955
  • Sonoma County, CA
    • View Profile
Picnic taps
« on: February 13, 2016, 01:46:23 AM »
So. My first kegging is going preternaturally well. The beer, it is carbonated. It tastes delicious. And I was able to fine-tune the carbonation after it had been in the keg a while. No leaks, no drama. FYI, the keg, CO2, and everything else are in a fridge ca. 38 degrees F.

For the first week I attached/disattached the picnic tap. That became old fast, particularly once the tap and the post got sticky. I'm trusting (!) that the tap won't sprout a leak. But now that it's constantly connected, I have questions.

* Does the line to the picnic tap (4 feet) maintain carbonation? If not, what's the time period for leakage?
* Does the beer in the line get old? Should I pour it off?
* How much beer sits in a typical beer line, per foot?
* Any other good tips for maintaining picnic taps and ensuring a fresh pour, particularly if a pour is every other day? I am using (and will likely keep using) small kegs, 2.5 gal to begin with, probably no more than two (or at most three) at a time. I am looking at Perlick flow-control faucets, but picnic taps are a good value for now.
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline tommymorris

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1998
  • Tommy M.
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2016, 02:05:18 AM »
The volume of beer in 1 ft of 3/16" line is about 0.18 fl oz. So your 4 ft line has about 0.72 fl oz sitting in it.

That beer will often loose some carbonation. It separates into bubbles and beer in the line. The bubbles are the co2 that came out of your beer. But, you can't tell. The rest of the beer makes up for any loss. You can try to judge the loss by pouring just an ounce after waiting 2 days and drinking that ounce.

I never pour off anything. I had 10 ft lines for years and there was no problem with noticeable carbonation loss or staleness or anything else.

The lines will develop beer stone over time. You can clean with beer line cleaner every few months or just replace the lines yearly.

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 955
  • Sonoma County, CA
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2016, 01:41:39 PM »
The volume of beer in 1 ft of 3/16" line is about 0.18 fl oz. So your 4 ft line has about 0.72 fl oz sitting in it. ...

I never pour off anything. I had 10 ft lines for years and there was no problem with noticeable carbonation loss or staleness or anything else.


Thanks, that's good to know.


The lines will develop beer stone over time. You can clean with beer line cleaner every few months or just replace the lines yearly.

Also good to know. I bought a prebuilt line to eliminate one possible point of error/frustration for first-time kegging, but I'll probably assemble the next beer line from scratch (whether for this setup or a second keg) using line + MFL disconnects etc. I'm also assuming the gas line is essentially ageless.
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8022
  • Ego ceruisam ad bibere cervisiam
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2016, 02:08:11 PM »
As long as the tap and line remain chilled there isn't a problem with staling or cleanliness. And I've never had a cobra tap leak on it's own accord- always something I did like squishing it between the door and side of keg or something along those lines.

A 5' line is a little better for maintaining the carbonation in the pour. There's a formula out there to figure out the serving line lengths needed for the desired carbonation volumes.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Laws are spider-webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones. -Anacharsis

Offline tommymorris

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1998
  • Tommy M.
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2016, 02:16:23 PM »
Gas lines seem to last a very long time. You will need to clean the gas quick disconnect occasionally.

Offline Stevie

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6858
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2016, 04:31:57 PM »

And I've never had a cobra tap leak on it's own accord...
I have. It sucks opening a keezer to only have a keg pop up floating in the beer it once held.

Offline martinj

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2016, 05:12:56 PM »

And I've never had a cobra tap leak on it's own accord...
I have. It sucks opening a keezer to only have a keg pop up floating in the beer it once held.

As have I, though fortunately I haven't lost a whole keg. Leakage can be eliminated by taking the tap apart and sanding about 1mm off the top of the body of the tap (where the threads are).  This will add some preload to the spring that seats the plunger in the valve and increases the amount of pressure required to blow it off the seat.
Marty

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4439
  • Play Nice
    • View Profile
    • Harvey's Brewhaus
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2016, 05:34:31 PM »

And I've never had a cobra tap leak on it's own accord...
I have. It sucks opening a keezer to only have a keg pop up floating in the beer it once held.

As have I, though fortunately I haven't lost a whole keg. Leakage can be eliminated by taking the tap apart and sanding about 1mm off the top of the body of the tap (where the threads are).  This will add some preload to the spring that seats the plunger in the valve and increases the amount of pressure required to blow it off the seat.

good info. i have just one that seems to leak and will give that a try.
Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline BrewBama

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1497
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2016, 02:21:49 PM »
I've had one leak but it was because I put 30 psi of Co2 in the keg seating the lid with a serving line hooked up.  FYI - don't do that.  I now only hook up a serving line when the keg is adjusted to serving psi.
Huntsville AL

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 955
  • Sonoma County, CA
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2016, 02:49:19 PM »
I've had one leak but it was because I put 30 psi of Co2 in the keg seating the lid with a serving line hooked up.  FYI - don't do that.  I now only hook up a serving line when the keg is adjusted to serving psi.

Thanks, this and other tips here are valuable kegging knowledge. For example, it makes sense, but it didn't occur to me the tap came apart. And of course, there's even a short YouTube video for that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaS_vDAvd2M .
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2016, 03:52:26 PM »
If I'm iffy on how long the beer has been sitting in the line since the last pour (i.e., more than a couple days), then I'll just dump the first few ounces.

If the post and disconnect get sticky, I spritz them with a bit of Star San to rinse off the gunk. It's not a cure-all, but it usually helps enough until I can give them a proper cleaning.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Online mabrungard

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2388
  • Water matters!
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2016, 04:17:41 PM »
I've considered moving to 'normal' serving taps, but found that picnic taps provide a more ideal utility to me. Having normal serving taps outside the fridge is an invitation for more work to keep them clean. I've used picnic taps for 13+ years on the kegs in my serving fridge.

Yes, the beer in the line does maintain its carbonation and there is no loss there. However, I think there might be a slight loss in freshness for the beer stored in that beer line when the time between pours is long. But as pointed out, the volume of 'old' beer is very low in comparison to the glass you pour. So I haven't found that this is a problem. My beer lines remain constantly hooked to the kegs.

The one thing that you may find as a problem with picnic taps, is that they can develop a moldy infection on the tap's stopper. The organisms seem to find a foothold on that rubbery material, but they don't adhere to the plastic body. Yes, I've been horrified to see the growths on the stoppers in the past. But I'm still living...that which doesn't kill you....? 

So the technique I've adopted to help reduce the incidence of mold growth, is to allow the picnic taps to hang downward from the kegs in order to help point the tap outlet downward which I hope keeps spores from settling on the stoppers. The beer line is draped over the keg and it hangs there. I can't say that it works perfectly since I still have the occasional infection, but I'm stronger for it...right?
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/Brun-Water-464551136933908/?ref=bookmarks

Offline tommymorris

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1998
  • Tommy M.
    • View Profile
Picnic taps
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2016, 04:26:31 PM »
I just moved to a Perlick Flow Control faucet mounted directly at the keg (via an adapter). The whole thing stays refrigerated. I love it. I filled a bottle for the first time yesterday by turning the flow down and pouring from the tap. So easy! I did pop the faucet off the keg, dunk it in Starsan, and clean with a faucet brush before filling. But that cleaning step took about 20 seconds since removing the faucet is done by pulling on the QD at the keg.

The downside of this new setup is cost. It was about $100 for 1 keg. Also, you need head room above the keg. I have 2.5G kegs so that is no problem.

« Last Edit: February 14, 2016, 04:55:01 PM by alestateyall »

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 955
  • Sonoma County, CA
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2016, 04:50:35 PM »
That's a thing of beauty. As you say, $100 per keg is kind of spendy for a single faucet (when a serviceable picnic tap line can be built for so little), but it is a great solution.

I have been draping the picnic line as mabrungard suggests with the same thought in mind.
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8022
  • Ego ceruisam ad bibere cervisiam
    • View Profile
Re: Picnic taps
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2016, 05:09:07 PM »
One thing about taps exposed to ambient temps- they get nasty and moldy real quick. I keep a spray bottle of starsan on the kegorator to spritz out the faucet after every pour. Seems to do the trick but it's a good idea to clean the tap on a consistent basis.

Never had the same problem with a cobra tap kept cold in a fridge.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Laws are spider-webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones. -Anacharsis