I often have customers ask me the best way to deliver beer via a long draw beer system.
To summarize there are two ways to deliver beer, Push it or Pump it.
Kegs come from the brewery with 12-15 pounds of CO2 pressure on the keg. The length of the long draw beer line and changes in elevation determine the amount of CO2 pressure you must put on the keg to get the desired flow rate and control foam. Longer runs may require up to 25 pounds of pressure. The higher CO2 pressure on the keg will contribute to over carbonization of the beer if the keg sits too long.
Using a mixed gas (combination of CO2 and Nitrogen 60/40 for Lagers) at 25 pounds eliminates the over carbonation possibility. While the mixed gas solves the over carbonation problem, it can contribute to the Beer going flat if the keg is exposed to the mixed gas for too long.
When you have a pump system, you only apply the whole 12-15 pounds to the keg, eliminating the possibility of over carbonation. You apply the CO2 pressure required to move the beer to the pump only; the higher pressure never touches the beer, thus eliminates the possibility of over carbonation.
Pump systems will cost more to install and less to operate.
Push systems will cost less to install and more to operate.
Pumps cost you about $80 a line for installation. If you have a 16-tap system, the total cost to add pumps would be about $1,360.
Push long draw systems require a mixed gas. You can buy a mixed gas in a bottle, buy a blender and mix you own with bottled Nitrogen and CO2 or use a Nitrogen generator. To learn your payback, you would need to know how much more the bottled mixed gas cost is in comparison to bottled mixed gas.
Blenders cost about $800 so you would pay more for pumps if you have more than 10 faucets.
The Nitrogen Generator and blender are normally rented from a gas supplier. If the cost is $100 per month the Pump payback solution is 13.5 months. After that, you are paying more each month for the Nitrogen Generator rental.
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