Owning a kegerator is obviously fun, but there is also some work that is involved. Setting PSI pressure, changing kegs, cleaning lines, etc. are all needed to keep your beer pouring perfectly and tasting great. One common issue we hear about and is also brought up a lot on internet forums is foamy beer pours. Foamy pours are typically not a problem with the unit itself. There is usually some sort of set up issue causing foamy beer. There are many of these things that can cause foam when pouring from a kegerator. There is a lot to read here, but please note that all of the possible causes come up every day and resolve foamy beer issues. Skipping over even one of these steps could cause you to go round and round and never solve the problem.
The most common causes are:
- Incorrect Temperature – If the beer is too warm or too cold, it will be more easily disturbed and pour as foam. In most models, the beer line is not refrigerated so the first pour will usually be a bit warmer and a bit more foam.
- Most beers should be kept in the low 40 degree Fahrenheit range. This is referring to the liquid temperature of the beers.
- To test the liquid temperature, you can grab a liquid thermometer at any local store and put it in a glass of water. You can always check with the beer brewer for more specific temperature recommendations. Make sure the glass is near the bottom of the keg (but not touching it) since that is where the beer is coming from.
- If you have brought a warm keg home, note that it may take up to 72 hours to cool that much liquid off.
- Incorrect CO2 Pressure – There are a lot of arguments about CO2 pressure. Too much pressure will cause foamy beer and too little will cause beer to go flat quickly. Most beer manufacturers or distributers will have a specific CO2 pressure they recommend for a particular beer. It is also good to note that the length of the beer lines and environmental differences will make this a rough estimate but not the ultimate one PSI fits all solution.
- At EdgeStar we always recommend starting low and making adjustments until you have a nice pour. Starting at 5-6 PSI will prevent you from pouring all foam and then gradually 1-2 PSI at a time work your way up. 10-12 PSI is most commonly the ideal pressure, but again that can vary and it is always best to err on the low side to start.
- This is an art, not a science. What worked for one keg of a particular beer may or may not work on a second keg of that identical beer. It should be close, but it may need some adjusting after a keg change. That is part of the fun of owning a kegerator!
- Dirty Beer Lines – ALWAYS make sure you have cleaned your beer lines between kegs. Most local beer supply shops will sell cleaning kits. They can also be purchased at our partner site, kegerator.com
- A Shaken Keg – Many people transport a keg home right before a party, hook it up, and start pouring. Once your keg has been shaken during transport, your keg needs time to settle down. It is recommended to let a keg settle for 24 – 48 hours before tapping.
- Incorrect Coupler – Some beers use a different coupler style. While they are different, you may still be able to tap your keg with it. This leads to problems with CO2 flow and disturbances in the beer flow. Refer to the chart in the link below to verify you have the right coupler style for your application. Note that unless otherwise noted upon order, your unit likely comes with a US Sankey D style coupler which fits most American beers.
- Length of beer lines – Like all of the other possible issues noted here, this is variable as well. Most of our units come with a standard 5 foot Beer line. You will find recommendations all over the internet with everywhere from 4 feet to 10 or 12 feet. This is going to be different for everyone. Different types of beer, environments, temperatures, etc. will all cause this to vary.
- Note – You should always be using 3/16” beer line. If you do wish to order longer lines they are available typically from local beer supply stores or online at our partner Kegerator.com
- Also, ONLY use food grade beer lines. Anything less will leach into your beer.
- Beer Line BELOW the top of the keg – Do not let your beer line dip below the top of your keg. Any excess beer line should be coiled up on the top of the keg. A beer line dipping below the top of the keg could possibly allow air to get in the lines and will lead to foam issues.
- Clean Beer Glasses – This one may sound crazy, but ALWAYS use a clean beer glass that has not been frozen. You want glasses that are known as “Beer Clean” – No soapy residue at all, no ice inside of the glass, and a nice smooth surface.
- Also practice a proper pouring technique. Tilting the glass as you pour to get the beer to smoothly flow down the side of the glass will prevent any disturbance and unnecessary foam caused by the pour.
There are also some great resources available at Kegerator.com. Here is a link to some basic troubleshooting:
There are also some great videos on YouTube that tackle this issue. We are not associated with any of these resources. We have just found them to contain great information. Here is one of our favorites: