Components in Draft System

Whether your self-pour taps are offering the more common beverages such as beer, wine, and cocktails or are offering novelties such as cold brew or kombucha, any beverage will go through your draft system in the same way as long as they are kegged.

Learn more on how to keg drinks like kombucha, cold-brew, wine, or cocktails on the page below.

To have your PourMyBeer setup work properly, you will need a fully functioning, well-balanced draft system with proper cooling and restriction to ensure that the liquid coming out isn’t foamy, especially for beers! Who would enjoy getting a glass full of foam?

Foamy Beer

Now without further ado… let’s dive into what a draft system is and what its components are

What Is the Draft System?

To put it simply, it is the magic responsible for your beverage getting from the keg all the way to your glass, and to explain it more technically, the draft system is a liquid dispense technology that allows you to pour any beverages coming from kegs. 

It’s important to understand the 2 types of draft systems before you try and wrap your head around where self-pour beverage technology comes into play in this equation and how it connects its powers with a draft system technology.

What are the 2 types of Draft Systems?

If you are more of a visual learner, watch this video first.

1. Wall-Mounted Direct Draw Dispense System (Dispensing Directly Through A Cooler Wall)

This is when the faucet that pours the liquid is directly connected to the cooler where the beer, wine, cocktails (and all the other fun stuff) are being stored. In the direct draw, there is no glycol involved in this equation, making it cheaper for the operator to build. 

Real quick, what is glycol? Think of this magical chemical as an anti-freeze that runs along the beer lines if the beer has to travel any distance.

For a direct draw, a walk-in cooler stores the kegs, beer lines, and PourMyBeer valves and flow meters. The shank and tap/faucet is mounted directly through a wall to the customer on the other side, where your PourMyBeer system will be shining!

2. Long Draw Glycol-Cooled Dispensing System

The cooler can be 2 feet to 150+ feet away from the taps in a long draw system. In some cases, you can have the cooler right next to the taps and you’ll see them still use glycol to flash chill the product. Long draw systems differ from direct draw systems due to the taps/faucets being further from the keg cooler. Think cooler in the basement and self-serve beer wall on the ground floor. These systems use a secondary refrigeration unit (called a power pack or glycol chiller) to maintain draft beer at the proper temperature all the way from the walk-in cooler to tap. This is done by the power pack chilling and constantly circulating an anti-freeze (glycol) solution next to the beer tubing all the way from the walk-in cooler to the tap.

Components of the Draft System

Our friends at Micro-Matic have a great illustration of the 10 components of a draft system right here.

There are benefits to both, and in most cases, depending on space, direct draw isn’t an option. We’ve seen beer systems in the basements and other rooms. If the beer lines are traveling to the wall above the taps, we require you to have a cooler near the wall where all of our components are for two reasons. 1) easy to access for service, and 2) ensures that you never have phantom pours. A phantom pour means that someone could pour beer without using an RFID card.

What is the difference between a regular draft system and a self-pour draft system?

There are 2 main types of draft systems:

  1. Direct Draw where the faucet is connected directly to the shank inside of the cooler.
  2. Long Draw where a glycol chilled beer line is run over longer distances. 

The PourMyBeer equipment is compatible with both the valves and meters connected to the shank on a direct draw or spliced into the beer lines on a long draw.

However, when building a self-pour taproom, if space isn’t a concern, direct draw is the preferred method of setup

Why is a Direct Draw System Preferred?

  1. Convenience – Your kegs are just a few feet from where the taps are.
  2. Ease of Installation – With the meters and valves on our system only a few feet from the screens, this requires much less splicing of cables. 
  3. Cleaning Lines Costs Less – It will cost the same to get your lines cleaned (which you should be doing religiously every 2 weeks), but instead of dumping out 6 to 10 (48 oz to 160 oz) beers per line every time you clean the system, you’re only losing about 1 beer per line. This adds up over time, especially if you have a high number of taps.
  4. Cost of Installation – Your costs to install a direct draw vs. a long draw system are usually at least $3,000 to $5,000 less, depending on the number of lines and distance from the cooler to the taps.

We want your beer to pour like liquid gold. Beer is the only beverage that will not pour well if you don’t have the temperature and pressure dialed in. That is one of the benefits of a long draw system – the temperature of the beer is controlled by the glycol mainly. This ensures that from the time it is in the glycol line to the time it gets to the faucet, it’s a consistent temperature. That being said, out of the 370+ locations we’ve done, roughly 30% are direct draw. 

Here are the only two ways you should do a direct draw system with self-pour taps. 

1. Shadow Box

If you have a 4-5” thick cooler, you’re not allowing the line to be cooled for that 4-5”, and the temperature change in that 4-5” can and will cause the first ounce of beer to come out more foamy than the beer in the cooler and keg lines going to the shank. The positioning of the holes for the shadow box should be part of the overall wall design with screens lining up with the taps and the height of the taps. Below are pictures of well-executed shadow boxes. 

2. Extra Long Shanks

If you are unable or unwilling to go the route of a shadow box, another option is to have extra long shanks, allowing more of the shank to be cooled by the cooler air. We’ve found that 12” is ideal for this, but only acceptable if the cooler wall is 4” or less in thickness. You also can’t have additional space between the cooler and the taps. Remember, temperature changes are not good for beer to pour well. 

PourMyBeer extra long shanks

Equipment Needed For Your Self-Pour Setup

PourMyBeer Screens

These are the primary customer interface of your system. It communicates with the valves and flow meters and writes data to the RFID card. These 9″ purpose-built, commercial grade screens are durable and reliable, unlike the consumer-grade, cheap tablets other providers use. PourMyBeer worked to reduce connection points to optimize up-time in the production environments. If you want to learn more about why PourMyBeer is the true market leader, you can do so here.

These are the primary customer interface of your system. It communicates with the valves and flow meters and writes data to the RFID card. These 9″ purpose-built, commercial grade screens are durable and reliable, unlike the consumer-grade, cheap tablets other providers use. PourMyBeer worked to reduce connection points to optimize up-time in the production environments. If you want to learn more about why PourMyBeer is the true market leader, you can do so here.

Drip Trays

As the name indicates, this is a special tray that mounts to the outside wall, right below your self-pour taps to contain any spillage.

As the name indicates, this is a special tray that mounts to the outside wall, right below your self-pour taps to contain any spillage.

Flow meter

This is a small component joining the party in the cooler. The flow meter has a pinwheel in it and as liquid spins the wheel, it sends a pulse to our system letting everyone know in real-time how much liquid is being dispensed.

This is a small component joining the party in the cooler. The flow meter has a pinwheel in it and as liquid spins the wheel, it sends a pulse to our system letting everyone know in real-time how much liquid is being dispensed.

Valves

These are the best buds of our flow meters. In its default position, the solenoid valve is closed, which prevents any liquid from being dispensed unless our system says it is time for the party! And it gives the valves a signal that it can open.

Unlike any other company in this space, we’ve developed our own proprietary valves for both long draw and direct draw systems. These custom valves reduce interruptions in the beer that would normally create foam.  

These are the best buds of our flow meters. In its default position, the solenoid valve is closed, which prevents any liquid from being dispensed unless our system says it is time for the party! And it gives the valves a signal that it can open.

Unlike any other company in this space, we’ve developed our own proprietary valves for both long draw and direct draw systems. These custom valves reduce interruptions in the beer that would normally create foam.  

How Do PourMyBeer Valves & Flow Meters Work Together?

Now, when these two best buds meet in the cooler, real magic happens. When a customer places their RFID beer card on the RFID reader, it sends an electronic signal to open the valve, allowing the flow of liquid to pass through the flow meter. 

Unlike other companies in the self-pour market, we give our customers the ability to individually calibrate every line at the screens. We do this for them during the installation, but they can adjust them at any time to ensure that when a guest gets charged for 4.3 oz, they are actually pouring 4.3 oz. We take pride in ensuring that your customers have a great experience and are getting every tenth of an ounce they pay for.

PourMyBeer self-pour fan Hoppy

PourMyBeer Tip: 

We recommend a dispense rate of 1 ounce per second since you’re dealing with novice pourers for the most part!

Here When You Need Us!

Whoa! We know that reading about tech is not exciting for everyone, and oftentimes there are a lot more questions that pop up, but we are here to help. Whether you are going with a direct draw or long draw draft system, we are here at every step of the process and will be happy to share the experiences we’ve had with our customers (aka PourMyBeer family members) in your area. Don’t hesitate to contact us at cheers@pourmybeer.com or (312) 416-9989!

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