How do glycol beer systems work? Learn how the equipment works and why glycol systems are the most popular choice today.
HOW GLYCOL BEER SYSTEMS WORK
Glycol draft beer systems operate through a process which is accomplished through three components:
- Trunk line
- Draft beer tower
The power pack is a commercial refrigeration unit. It is the heart of the glycol system. The power pack is rather compact, as seen in the photo below. Don’t let this small package fool you. An individual power pack can house one-three pumps and motors. A single, properly-sized power pack can manage up to three trunk lines, each up to 750’ in length, each capable of handling up to 24 beer products. In this plan, we’re showing the possibilities for three different opportunities for trunk lines in this particular building.
A cross section of an 8-product glycol trunkline is shown in the photo below:
More simply, the trunkline provides a conduit for the beer product lines, connecting kegs of beer in the walk-in cooler to each respective faucet of the draft beer tower. At the core are sealed refrigerant lines which extend from the power pack to the tower in a continuous loop.
HOW TO INSTALL GLYCOL TRUNKLINES
Glycol trunklines are typically installed overhead or under-slab. When installed overhead, the trunklines are commonly housed in black iron pipe, as shown in the photo below. When installed under slab, each trunkline is individually housed in 6″ Schedule 40 PVC tubing.
HOW THE TEMPERATURE OF THE DRAFT BEER IS MAINTAINED
As each beer product travels from the keg to the draft beer tower its temperature rises temporarily. This is due to the pressure of the gas that’s pushing it and the resulting drag caused by the plastic product lines that resist. By virtue of the principles of thermodynamics, the refrigerant lines dissipate these temporary temperature gains. The beer products are ultimately delivered at 38 F by the time they get to each respective faucet.
HOW THE GLYCOL BEER TOWER WORKS
As the draft beer travels from the walk-in cooler, I discussed the general concept of temperature maintenance. However, as approaches the tower, the job still isn’t over. The beer can still experience temperature gain over the final segment of its journey. According to industry leader Micro Matic, a lot could still go awry inside the beer tower. Micro Matic towers are designed with a bit of additional engineering so the beer is dispensed at 38 F at the end of each faucet.
THE GLYCOL IS ALWAYS WORKING
Upon leaving the tower, the return-side of the glycol loop returns to the power pack so the refrigeration cycle can be repeated. Even on its way back to the power pack, the return leg of the glycol line still helps to stabilize the temperature of the beer products on their way to the tower.
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