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I recently purchased a keg, and I've got a couple questions about keeping the lines clean. Specifically when the keg isn't finished, as the lines are simple enough to clean along with the keg when it's empty.

Right now I do not have a kegerator, and am using a simple picnic tap. I've been very busy and unable to drink my beer on a regular basis, so my keg gets tapped, we pour a few pints then everything gets packed up for another week or so. My question is about cleaning the beverage line and fitting. How often should I be cleaning it? Are there any tips for cleaning the fitting?

The one way valve on the fitting makes it difficult to clean, so I end up taking the line apart and washing the pieces separately. This is problematic because the fitting is sharply barbed and often requires me to cut away the tubing to take it apart. Is there anything I can do to make this easier?

  • If it's this kind of coupler, you can just unscrew and remove the poppet inside (using the slot on top). This can make cleaning a lot easier. – Franklin P Combs Apr 7 '15 at 14:09
  • It might be. I'll have to check when I get home. With the poppet removed I'll be able to run cleaner through the line? – BBS Apr 7 '15 at 14:46
  • That was it, very easy to clean. If you want to change this to an answer I'd be happy to accept it. – BBS Apr 12 '15 at 22:01
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Assuming everything is stored properly cool, it isn't necessary to worry about cleaning the tap line in between pours, even if it takes you several months to finish the keg. If beer has sat unmoving in the beverage tubing for an extended period (a couple weeks), that small portion of beer may be stale; in this case I'd just run off the first bit into a spare glass and discard it. Aside from that, you should be fine. Trust your taste buds.

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Generally speaking, as long as you still have beer in the keg and you're pushing it out with CO2, you should be fine. This assumes that you're keeping your keg cool (beer is a food product as should be treated as one). Here's how I clean mind and I've never had an issue:
When the keg is empty, first I cry a little for my lost friend.
First, I rinse the keg with hot water,
then, I clean the keg with Oxyclean or BPW and really hot water.
I'll hook the keg up to my beer line and run about a quart (or a liter if you're not in the US) into a pitcher.
Dump the keg and rinse it with hot water. With new hot water in the keg, get a couple of quarts through the beer lines.
Sanitize with StarSan and water, the run that through the beer lines. Add beer and force carbonate.
Run a pint glass (or less -- no sense in wasting perfectly good beer) of liquid through the beer lines.
Pull a pint into a clean glass and drink it.

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  • Unfortunately I'm more concerned with what to do when the keg isn't empty and the lines will have to sit unused for an extended period of time, at least a week in between uses. You wouldn't worry about cleaning the lines even if it's likely to take you 2 months to finish the keg? – BBS Apr 8 '15 at 12:29
  • I have had kegs tapped for up to 6 months without cleaning the lines, and never had a problem. They are refrigerated at all times, though. – jalynn2 Apr 8 '15 at 17:14
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    If that's a major concern (and it really shouldn't be), get one of those hand held sprayers (bgequip.com/HTML/Industrial/handheld.html), take the nozzle off and put a keg post from which ever style keg you have and fill it with StarSan, pump it up and clean out your lines. Again, if you keep the keg pressurized with CO2 and refrigerated, you shouldn't have any issues. – CharlieHorse Apr 8 '15 at 19:46
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The solution was a combination of Franklin and Paul's suggestions. Franklin helped with cleaning when necessary and Paul helped me worry less about doing a complete breakdown and cleaning every time I poured a pint.

If my keg has to sit for a moderate amount of time I just leave it hooked up and pour off the first bit. If it sat for too long I clean it and now I know how to open the poppets to clean inside there.

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