Push Fit Beer Cleanliness

I once had a brewer grimace at the jubilee-clipped host-to-barb connections on my “beer wall” gas system. The problem – I was instructed – being that in the pinch-join between the pipe and barb there is a minute nook where beasties can gather and be hard for cleaning to get to. (This was on the gas-side of the system mind…)

Two things didn’t ring true about this. The first is being on the gas-side we also have workings inside regulators and the unknown innards of cylinders to worry about… both greater worries IMO. (Gas-side system cleanliness is a real issue not to be ignored when using top-pressure kegs mind you.)

But I think the brewer’s thinking was more about the beer-side… but there is a bit of a “hidden sins” aspect to pushfit fittings that makes folk think they’ve magic powers over and above just being really convenient. If anything I think they’re WORSE than barb fittings… there is about 5mm of pipe-in-sleeve in there where all the nasties you like can gather far easier than in a barb connection. There’s a lot more play and a far larger “grime trap” that casual line cleaning is not going to work well to sanitise.

Butchered John Guest 3/8" Elbow

Butchered John Guest 3/8″ Elbow

So keep this in mind when thinking of beer system cleanliness… it’s important to regularly strip back and clean draught system components. Replace short runs of tube and break down and scrub pushfits (I’d just replace them perhaps, they’re basically a consumables in my mind these days.) This goes for the gas side too when using top-pressure kegs (as opposed to KeyKeg) – infections from the gas-side, especially from manky couplers, can make a keg beer exhibit “off” flavours in just a day or two, especially in “warm” 12C UK cellars.

Sadly I’d bet your average British cellar hasn’t had this kind of love in 5+ years, if not in a decade… I’ve seen some pretty awful stuff in cellars. Take apart the average Sankey-S coupler and you can quickly be turned off drinking beer in pubs. Then look inside pushfits on coolers, couplers, and fobs… or don’t if you want to continue enjoying your beer. I’ve even seen algae-like growth inside an in use fob detector – and that is visible.

Great beer requires great cleanliness!

So… pushfit beer kit. I love it, and I won’t stop loving it. But always be aware of the caveats of any piece of equipment.