In this post, Rick Uzubell from Cabaret Design Group discusses direct-draw draft beer wall systems. Discover how draft beer walls are designed and installed and the cost of wall-mounted beer tap systems for restaurants, bars, sports bars and nightclubs.
How Are Draft Beer Walls Designed?
In terms of the other type of direct-draw draft beer system that I was talking about in my previous post, the popular beer wall that you see out in various places, typified by numerous beer faucets that you see on the back bar, similar to the photo at right. This particular arrangement shows 48 faucets. On the other side of the wall behind it are all your all your barrels of beer. The whole idea is, is that, much like the direct-draw coolers, these barrels are connected to these faucets over a very short distance; it's so short, as a matter of fact, that this wall that I'm showing here, is actually the common wall of the walk-in cooler. We have to do it this way because, if another building wall that separates these two, you can end up with excessive foaming, due to the fact that the shanks, located on the back side of these faucets, penetrating the wall, are all un-insulated. So, unless you compress this distance, what happens then is disaster, because you're going to have sputtering, you'll have foaming and you'll have mildew and mold build-up in these faucets -- a lot of problems associated with this. So, some engineering is required when you go into a system like this -- for a draft beer wall. Additionally, a significant amount of design attention has to be given to the common wall of the cooler which is typically beefed-up (structurally) and is laminated with decorative architectural metal or some sort of a finish which hides it, because walk-in coolers, in their inherent nature, are rather industrial in their appearance and wouldn't have any particular appealing effect -- aesthetically -- to the bar itself. Therefore, when you're talking about a draft beer wall, the entire walk-in cooler has to be incorporated into the envelope of the bar design or it simply doesn't work. So, if you have the space in your establishment to facilitate this, you're in good shape. Now, I typically don't like showing draft beer being dispensed from the back bar wall. Why? Because I'm a proponent of having all the beer faucets on the front bar. Of course, that doesn't really work with a walk-in cooler or direct-draw system. I'm merely using this as an example.
Are Draft Beer Walls and Alcohol-Based Bars Compatible?
What we have here, in this example, is really what I would call a hybrid system, because you're really sort of trying to promote your profit model by featuring alcohol-based drinks here and you're trying to also show a lot of craft beer here. The two don't really work very well hand-in-hand -- at least not in this context, because, again, like I say, bartender's need to be working efficiently from side-to-side, as they move back and forth in the shortest possible distance. If you place barriers between them and reaching their product or you don't have enough available call- and premium-liquor product on the back bar, the whole thing (profit model) falls apart, really, in my opinion. But I think in the context of this design -- of the system that we're considering today -- I think another (alternate) approach might work really well, and I'm showing it here it's shown like this so what I've done is I've basically reduced the number of faucets from 48 to 14 and then I'm showing the tiered liquor displays at each end of the back bar. Therefore, approximately one-third of the back bar would be dedicated towards draft beer if you like to see what that looks like in elevation, I've drawn it over here and it looks like this. This has a sort of aesthetically appealing to it. A lot going on (from a design perspective), but people don't really notice it, and they don't know the difference, but here again is your 14 faucets, and on either side you would have your tiered bottle displays with liquor shelves above, in all three (wall) cavities. This, I think, is doable and is a very good alternate solution to the beer wall.
What Are the Pro’s and Con’s About Draft Beer Walls?
The draft beer wall concept works in bars that feature craft beer and that's your primary mission. If you're trying to make alcohol-based drinks and derive profit model from that, then to have half the back bar, or the entire back bar shown dedicated to draft beer itself doesn't make a lot of sense to me. So therefore, you end up with a sort of an alternate approach – the only other approach for doing this in showing a lot of draft beer, would be to have a glycol system were whereby your beer towers are located on the front bar, which is a very popular approach, and one I'm a very big proponent of. Having everything in front of the bartender, to me, as much as you can put in front of the bartender to doing their job without having to turn their backs is really the the optimum of all bar design. In terms of the "Pro's and Con's," the "Pro's" of the draft beer wall systems is they're extreme reliable delivery, lower cost than the comparably- sized glycol systems and very little (product) waste. Also, you can infinitely expand them. Some craft beer bars will show as many as 9 selections (or more). The "Con's" are they take up a lot of space along the back bar, which we already covered and they require the walk-in cooler to become part of the design. If you cannot incorporate this idea into the into your particular arrangement, then it doesn't work; for that we can approach it a different way; we can go to a glycol system and give you every bit as reliable delivery, at a slightly greater cost, but that's really the trade-off, in the way I see it.