Why is My Beer Foamy or Flat? Troubleshooting Your Draft Beer System

G4 Kegs | July 9, 2024

Draft Beer System Problems and Solutions 

Foamy or flat beer often stems from the draft system itself. Cleanliness, pressure, and temperature are all major factors in a great pour versus a poor pour. Which factor might be causing problems with your beer? Not to worry! Luckily, often the beer itself can tell you where the issue stems from.

Why is My Beer Flat? 

Flat beer is easy to identify. It lacks carbonation, which is what gives beer its signature effervescence. When beer goes flat, more than just the bubbles are affected. The flavor can seem dull and the aromas are diminished. A quick aside: intentionally flat beers like cask ales and other appropriate still styles are the understood anomalies.

Troubleshooting Flat Beer

There are a few potential causes for flat beer. If your brews are missing that perfect, foamy head, look for these signs:

  • Low CO2 Pressure: The first thing to check on your keg set-up is the CO2 pressure. For most beers, the ideal pressure falls between 10 to 15 PSI. Check your pressure levels and see where your beer lands. If you are below the recommended pressure levels, adjust the regulator.

Need to be sure of the correct pressure? Reach out to your Keg Consultant for information.

  • Low Temperature: Temperature has a significant impact on beer. If your temperature is too cold, your suds become duds. Your stainless steel kegs should be stored between 36º and 40ºF to ensure proper draft-dispensing temperatures. To solve the problem, turn up the refrigeration unit, or ensure that your kegged beer has at least 24 uninterrupted hours stored at a proper temperature.

Dirty Glassware: Sometimes, a flat beer has nothing to do with the draft system. In fact, dirty or soapy pints can cause brew to fall flat. Ensure all glassware is “beer clean,” and free of detergents, debris, and oils. Inspect your glassware and ensure you’re following the recommended wash-rinse-sanitize cleaning protocol. Bonus points if you’re also giving each clean glass a second rinse of cold water before dispensing.

Three tips to look at while troubleshooting flat beer.

Why is My Beer Foamy?

On the opposite side of the flat beer spectrum is overly foamy beer. While most beers benefit from a frothy head, half a glass full of suds can negatively affect the delicate aromas and flavors. 

Troubleshooting Foamy Beer

If your brew is foaming over, scan your equipment for issues:

  • Excessive CO2 Pressure: If CO2 pressure is too high, beer can become over-carbonated, resulting in foamy pints. Check and adjust your regular down as needed to resolve the foam.

  • High Storage Temperature: Colder temperatures can cause flat beer, and the reverse is true. Kegs kept in spaces over 40ºF can produce overly heading pours. Examine the refrigeration equipment and double-check the thermostat to ensure the correct temperature.
  • Draft Faucet Problems: Draft beer faucets and beverage and gas lines regulate the transfer of beer from kegs to glasses. Anything dirty or broken through that chain can impede proper flow, leading to overfoam among a list of other usual unsanitary suspects. To maintain a properly functioning draft system, it’s recommended that you clean and sanitize all critical draft components—from keg to faucet—every two weeks.
Three tips to look at while troubleshooting foamy beer.

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