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I've since learned better, but when I first got my kegging setup, I put root beer on one of the lines. After that keg was empty, I decided to put soda water in instead. Unfortunately, the root beer scent is fairly strong.

Like I said, I've since learned that this is a problem and you shouldn't put root beer in there. But, here I am, having made that mistake. Is there anything I can do, short of replacing everything that touched root beer?

Clarification: Here's what I've all tried. I ran an entire keg full of oxyclean through the line followed by an entire keg full of baking soda water. On both, I ran the liquid through fairly slowly, letting it sit in the lines for a while before running some more through.

At this point, straight soda water still tastes distinctly of root beer, though when that water is flavored with orange, it masks it enough that I can't taste the root beer.

At the end of this keg of water, if I still taste it, I guess I'm going to replace all of the tubing up to the tower (which I can't figure out how to tear apart, actually), rebuild the keg with new O-rings and, if no one has any better ideas, I might just replace the entire tower too (thus having replaced everything that touched the root beer).

The take away for those who want root beer on tap, the best bet is to have the flavor syrup in a bottle with a pump (like the ones at the coffee shop) and just put soda water in the keg. That way, you can make your own soda flavors by mix and match and none of your equipment gets that root beer flavor in it.

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I've wondered the same thing... –  sgwill Nov 10 '10 at 12:36

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Have you tried soaking the tubes etc. in bleach/beer line cleaner? You should be careful about soaking metals, but plastic should be OK.

However -- I'd be surprised if the aroma would transfer to beer given the time the liquid stays in the pipe. If the worst case scenario is to have some slightly gingery ale, you may as well just use those lines again. The ginger smell will fade over time.

On the other hand if it's just plastic pipes that are the problem, you might want to replace them -- plastic tube is fairly cheap.

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I was surprised how much aroma and flavor transferred into the soda water too, but it's unmistakably "root beer" scented and flavored. –  J Wynia Nov 12 '10 at 14:51
    
Can you detect whether the smell is in the plastic tubing? I would first try flushing the equipment with lots and lots of water. Beer line cleaner or bleach might work too, but water is cheap and should do a reasonable job. Keep flushing it through until the water doesn't taste or smell of ginger... –  CJBrew Nov 12 '10 at 15:46

I'd suggest marking the root-beer smelling lines as your soda equipment and get new "beer-only" lines. You might be able to get the smell out of the plastic with enough heat and time, but they're cheap materials. All the expensive metal parts that came in contact should be fine. Be sure to consider your keg's seals, it's possible you're getting some aroma from the poppet o-rings.

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PBW + hot water (I believe 140°F is the recommended temp) has always worked for me on stainless steel parts. You may need to replace the plastic parts, i.e. tubing, if line cleaner or PBW doesn't work.

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