Beer Line Cleaner

Beer Line CleanerBars use strong cleaning solutions to keep their beer lines clean and free of “beer stone”, bacteria, and other nastiness. After I built my draft kegerator, I wanted to develop a system to keep my lines clean too.

I guess the usual method for homebrewers is to just put cleaning solution into a Cornelius keg, and use CO2 to dispense it like beer. I guess it’s also a good way to keep the keg valves clean too. But it doesn’t let me build something, so it’s not acceptable.

Bars use commercially-avaiable cleaning pumps. They have a fitting on them which matches the Sankey beer keg couplers in commercial use. They have a hand pump to force the solution into the beer lines. They are not directly suitable for homebrew use, because we don’t use the professional Sankey keg connectors. And they’re expensive, of course.

I wanted to build something similar, using Cornelius keg style connectors. My system uses “ball-lock” connectors.

Parts

I built my own beer-line cleaner using parts from Home Depot, and some keg parts. The cost was not much more than $20.

Here are the parts for the project:

  • 1-gallon deck sprayer
  • Ball-lock liquid-side tank plug
  • Dip tube
  • Ball-lock liquid-side valve

Deck sprayerI got the deck sprayer from Home Depot. The particular one I got was a Chaplin Clean-N-Seal Model 2500. This turned out to be a fortuitous choice. The plumbing in this sprayer mated perfectly with the keg parts, to bring the project together very easily.

The keg parts may be hard to find. I got them from the very helpful people at R. D. Strickland, located in Erin, Ontario. They repair and recondition soda kegs for the soda industry (there are apparently still some people other than homebrewers using Cornelius kegs, I was surprised to learn), and generally have a large inventory of reasonably-priced kegs to sell. They have also been very friendly and helpful to me. They provided me with all the keg parts necessary to complete this project:

Construction

Deck sprayer partsThe sprayer comes with a dip tube, fittings, and hose that look like this. We don’t need the hose or the valve and nozzle. We need only the dip tube and the plastic nut that secures the hose onto the sprayer body.

The keg parts look like this. Shown here are the stainless steel dip tube (cut short, normally it’s long enough to reach to the bottom of a Cornelius keg), the tank fitting (which is normally welded into the keg wall), O-ring, poppet valve, and ball-lock tank plug.

Assembled keg parts

I discovered that the dip-tube was of such a perfect size that it could form a good bulkhead seal on the sprayer body, using an O-ring and the plastic nut from the sprayer. I could have tried to cut and bend the keg dip-tube so that it would reach the bottom of the sprayer tank, but I also found that the plastic dip tube from the sprayer would fit tightly inside the stainless dip tube. So, I cut it to the desired length, and assembled the parts like this:

Assembled line-cleaner fittings

Line cleaner detailYou can see, I cut the stainless steel dip tube quite short. The plastic dip tube was cut to such a length that it reached the bottom of the sprayer. The parts were then installed onto the sprayer, and the plastic nut tightened to compress the O-ring and form a seal.

So, now I can fill the sprayer tank with cleaning solution, disconnect the beer line from a beer keg, hook it to the cleaner tank, and use the air-pump to push the solution through the beer line.

Using commercially-available beer-line cleaners regularly, at the recommended strength, you can clean the lines without rinsing. Just pump the cleaner through, reconnect the beer keg, and then flush out the lines with beer (which you’ll want to dump out, not drink.) Quick and easy.

Links

R.D. Strickland
26 Shamrock Road, RR #1
Erin, Ontario
(519) 833-9386
1-800-265-3345

22 Responses to “Beer Line Cleaner”


  • “Strong Work”
    I think I will do the same. Have you found a cleaning solution that you like more than others? How many have you tried?

  • I’m using Super “No Rinse” Line Cleaner. I probably bought my supply from Paddock Wood. I haven’t tried any other kinds.

  • This maybe another truly unique option for a very safe beer line cleaner.

    I am adding a quick link to our website to this e-mail with our specification sheets, msds’s and assorted technical data. I hope you find this information helpful. Power Punch 22 is a great product, truly unique and I know it has a market out there. Take Care and thanks again for your interest in Perma Inc.

    Sincerely,
    http://www.perma.com/cleaner/fgac1019.htm for specs. & msds’
    John Lyness
    (978) 618-7034

  • I can’t seem to find out just what Super “No Rinse” Line cleaner is made from or of. I buy beer at s local brewery where they clean the .5 gallon bottles with this cleaner. They rinse the bottle with the solution, then rinse it out once with water and then fill the bottle with beer. I’m concerned about residua in the bottle. What might I be drinking?

  • Here’s the MSDS for it: http://www.nationalchemicals.com/downloads/MSDS_SNR.pdf

    But the Super “No Rinse” Line Cleaner is designed more for cleaning than sanitizing. For sanitizing bottles and kegs I use Star San (http://www.fivestarchemicals.com/tech/starsan.pdf). Star San is basically just an acid (phosphoric acid) to kill bacteria by pH (not poison) combined with a surfactant (ie, soap) to help the acid reach every nook and cranny. When you pour out the Star San solution and refill with beer, the remaining residue is so dilute that it is harmless to both yeast and you.

  • Great Idea! I am defiantly building my own. Thanks for putting it out there!

  • Hi, I am wondering if this equipment is designed for beer spraying or not? Since I am finding a machine for this purpose, I hope this machine is what I find。

  • No, it’s not for beer spraying. I don’t know why you’d want to spray beer on anything.

    It’s a garden sprayer, modified to pump cleaning solution through draft beer lines.

  • Seattle beer guy

    My installation will be at my cabin where it might be weeks or months between beer tap use. I would like to be able leave the solution in the lines for extended durations. During the winter, we use it every weekend so there will be a lot more use.

    How long can beer stay in the lines, and how long can the cleaner stay in the lines?

  • That beer sprayer comment is funny… : ) could of sprayed beer all over the frat hoes at my party college in Texas (way back), that would of been funny.

    I have a dual kegerator and I take 3 months to drain each keg. The beer will not mold in cooler area if its cold, but the tap is warmer and will create mold. You should clean it every keg swap, however, i can go about 2 months before i can taste the mold starting to form hidden in the tap nozzle. all depends on temp of course.. humidity, etc. mine is in the garage that never gets opened, so the heat from the compressor eventually warms the room.

    Cleaning the tap on the outside is easy, but you have to have a kit to unscrew it all (sankey) and push the cleaner through. The commercial one sux, if its a fat keg style hand pump mounted to a cheap thin plastic container. its a real pain. I like this “beer sprayer” idea much better! : )

    The crappy one looks like this: http://www.nexternal.com/hombre/images/beer%20line%20cleaning%20kit.jpg

    I’m thinking of building the beer sprayer, as long as I dont confuse it with the weed sprayer that looks just like it!

    thanks for the idea.

  • I just left a response concerning the wort cooler, and mentioned peroxide based cleaners such as Aseptox. This would be ideal for this application as well. This product also does wonders for cleaning and sanitizing scuba masks, mouthpieces, snorkels,and medical breather / respirator masks. (I use it myself for this purpose.)

  • Hey Ronblog! Thanks for posting this great bit of info! I built my kegerator and it was a lot of fun! Picked up the kit from Simgo in Mississauga, Ontario (www.simgo.com) and fridge from Lowe’s. I’ve been using BStore kegs (sanke connection) but I wanted to “homebrew” instead so I’ve been searching for corny kegs. B-Store kegs are great but a little expensive (especially right now). Last week I picked up 3 corny’s from R. D. Strickland, and Bob was great to deal with. Though, Bob said he’s running low. If you’re interested, contact him soon to make sure you get yours. The ones he has are the ol’ Coke containers (pin lock).

    Thanks again for the great posting – been very helpful!

    Cheers!
    –T-Mac

  • Hey, T-Mac;
    I was in Princess Auto today, (they are purveyors of Chinese knock off tools and random surplus stuff), and almost fainted when I saw the stack of Pepsi style (pin lock) Corny’s they had. And the best part; they were $25 each!! I just had to buy two.
    I asked the woman at the cash if this was a ‘location specific’ item (I’m in Kingston ON), and she checked and said, “No, it appears that other locations have them as well” The only store that didn’t appear to have any was Ottawa. There is a guy in Ottawa selling Cornys on Craigslist and Kijiji, so I suspect he’s snagged them all.
    I paid $50 each in the past for them, so this is a sweet deal!

  • I am looking for the manufacturer of a cleaner/sanitizer called Aseptox. Does anyone know where it comes from and please do not say Winexperts. I am looking for the MSDS for it

  • That is brilliant! Looks like it would do a great job on any home system. You could also build a circulation pump using a pond pump and then circulate some PBW through it.

    Great idea, thanks

    https:www.taptechs.blogspot.com

  • Genius… thank you! Been doing a terrible job keeping my kegorator lines clean because cleaning them with the cheap kit that came with it was such a pain.

    I love you man…

  • I am in the process of building the same rig–but for a standard sankey coupler. As soon as I am done, I will post links to the photos and the technique that I am using to assemble. Stay tuned! -pdj

  • The blog is up! I have constructed a prototype line cleaner for a standard (Sankey) coupler. See my blog (in progress) showing the build: http://beerlinecleaner.wordpress.com.

    Here are the steps to use:
    1) Turn off CO2, remove coupler from empty keg
    2) Attach coupler to line cleaner
    3) Turn on CO2, open tap until cleaner is depleted; turn off CO2
    4) Attach coupler to new keg, turn on CO2
    5) Dispose of ~1 cup of beer, then use as expected.

    Thoughts?

  • More photos–including a finished product photo (or two). Please stop by and visit, and give us some feedback (please).

    Thank you!
    http://beerlinecleaner.wordpress.com

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