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Getting Up Close with Glycol

Glycol systems, and the ways in which breweries control for temperatures in general, have improved quite a bit over the past four decades. Now they’re safer and more efficient than ever.

Brian Yaeger Jul 9, 2019 - 9 min read

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Photo by Jamie Bogner

His Carolina-style barbecue joint in Seal Beach, California, was a fairly small spot that featured ten constantly rotating taps when it opened in 2006, but when he expanded to twenty-two taps within a year, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing’s Gabe Gordon pulled a MacGyver/Doc Emmett Brown hybrid and invented the mechanism he calls the Flux Capacitor. It’s the manifold that enables adjusting not just the gas pressure but also the specific blend of gases (carbon dioxide and nitrogen) that pushes beer through the tap lines.

“I never want to be the reason that a beer sucks. That’s why I made the Flux. Unless I was going through a keg in 3 or 4 days, when I tapped an IPA, the first day it had nice head retention and plenty of carbonation but by day 6 or 7, it didn’t feel as spritely,” he says. “Plus, when I rotated the lines, if I poured a tripel after that IPA, it poured foamy, or maybe a barleywine would become more carbonated after day 1. So I had to solve a very specific problem that’s intrinsic in long-draw draft systems that require cooling in line because the walk-in is so far from the taps.”

Compared to direct-draw systems, in long-draw draft systems, the source of the beer—typically a keg but sometimes a brite tank—is situated, by necessity, far from the faucet from which your pint of beer flows. In Beachwood’s case, that distance is sometimes as far as ninety feet. Given the quarter-inch trunk lines, that means that up to four pints of beer are chilling in the line between the keg and your glass. And by chilling, I mean hanging out—although, to make sure it’s not spoiling, it had best be chilled, too.

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