?? For those of you doing beers...

I finally have some light in my tunnel (maybe it will stay lit this time!) and if I finally progress towards getting this place up and running, I want my ducks already quacking. With that in mind, our concept is a “pizzeria & pub” and I intend to have 6 or so craft brews on draft, and maybe another 25 or so in bottles. My question is in costs of equipment. I have no experience with beer distributors, and before I call them I’d like to gain some knowledge so I’m not railroaded.

Do they operate like a soda distributor in placing dispensing gear at N/C, or will I have to plan on popping for all new draft equipment and lines??? I can swing it if I end up having to provide the keg gear, but I just don’t want surprises, and certainly don’t want to buy my own, only to find out 1 year down the road that “dude…they ALWAYS provide that stuff”.

you will have to provide beer/cooler equipment in all the states I’ve worked in…if you have the $$$ a good system is a larger walk-in cooler & run insulated lines to the service area…all the kegs can be synced together, so if one runs out, another is already tapped…the the beer guy makes a simple exchange…

Many time the beer guy will pop for a monthly cleaning of the lines…

Some beers/brands runs better @ different pressures, so a couple of tanks is my vote…

Check with your state alcohol bureau about what distributors are allowed to provide. I’ve been successful in getting them to provide line cleaning for free and they’ll usually do all the installation of equipment for free as well, but they can’t give or even loan any equipment to us.

We carry bottled and canned beer: domestic, craft, and import. No keg (no space!!!). Draft is by far a better mark-up, but the real question is, what % of sales do you see beer bringing in?? For me, its only 6%.

deacon I have a draft beer cooler for a very small song and dance if you are interested

Ron I’ll def keep that in mind I think I can still find my way over!

Boy it has been years since we served alcohol but as far as I can remember they took care of everything. Our walk in was on the wall where the beer was dispensed so they just kept the kegs in there and ran the lines through the wall. We had an area during our build out set up but I am pretty sure they drilled the holes and ran the lines.

They came in regularly and clean the lines.

Just like soda company the extras were negotiated. Neon Lights were the biggie for us. We wanted new ones and several of them. They provided coasters, table tents and some glasses.

They also did well rotating the beer.

We had several brands so we also had several distributors.

Make sure you meet with the ATF in your area…the rules and record keeping were a pain as I recall.

There are a few things that you will definitely want to keep on top of, when serving draft beers:

  1. Line Cleaning - This is really of utmost importance! Monthly is the bare minimum of frequency of cleaning, especially if you are going through a lot of beer. We clean our lines every two weeks. That said, if you have a direct-draw system (multi-tap keggerator, essentially…) your lines are much shorter, so you don’t lose as much product when you do your cleaning. If you have a long-draw system (walk-in cooler with insulated lines…) you will lose a lot more product. You just have to decide what works best for your space - both walk-in, and behind your bar area. Our system is a very long draw (almost 180 feet), and with the quantity of taps that we have, we lose almost a full keg every time we do a full line cleaning. It’s a higher cost, but dirty lines are one of the WORST things for beer… especially if you’re serving craft beer! A dirty line isn’t as bad when you’re serving nasty beer like Miller or Coors! :smiley:

  2. Your beer distributor should do your line cleaning - for free, at least monthly…

  3. If doing a long-draw system, you should consider investing in a “fob” system for your lines. This will shut off the beer (and gas) flow when the keg blows. This will do two things… Save a LOT of money by cutting out the foamy beer that you have to pour off when you re-tap the keg, and it will also save your bartenders from having the beer explode in their face when the keg blows! :lol:

  4. Be sure you are using the appropriate gas mixture when pouring your beers. Your distributor should be able to help you determine what the best settings are for your set-up. Keggerators and Long-Draw systems require different gas blends, and different beer styles react in unique ways depending on the gas blend you are using. Gas blend is almost always CO2 and Nitrogen, and usually in the ratio of 65%-35%. If you are pouring a stout (Guiness, etc…) you will need a dedicated Nitrogen line, as that is what gives the “cascading” bubbles effect.

  5. “Beer-Clean” Glassware - This rivals consistent line cleaning as the most important aspect of serving good craft beer. Whether using a 3-bay sink, or using a mechanical glasswasher, be sure your detergent concentration is correct, and that you are very thorough when rinsing all the residues out of the glasses! Any chemicals left in the glass will not only leave a bad taste and odor, but it will destroy the head-retention of the beer. You should also avoid using the beer glasses for anything else. I have seen places that use their pint glasses for sodas, root beer floats, etc… The sugars and lipids from soda and ice cream are very hard to completely rinse out, and will have the same effect as chemical residue on head-retention.

  6. Beer and food pairing - This is the fun part of craft beer! Be sure to educate yourself and your servers about what beers pair with what food and why! There is a lot of information out there about appropriate beer / pizza pairings. Have fun!

  7. Yes, you will almost certainly have to pay for all the dispensing equipment yourself. But it can really be worth it!

Hi Deaconvolker:

Lots of good advise but so much will depend on the layout of your building and the space available.

When we design a facility that has beer we like to back a walk in cooler right up behind the dispensing area. We try to have a system where the bottled product can be loaded into the service area right from inside the walk in and the draft beer dispensed from a system fed almost directly from the same walk in.

Keep in mind that most all health departments will not allow your food products to be stored in a walk in with beer, be it bottled or keg.

George Mills