Draft Beer Systems—Consider This When Purchasing

Draft beer systems are available in many different setups and designs. However, they all have the same basic components and are built to manage three key variables.
The ability of a draft beer system to dispense beer depends on the following three variables: restriction value, temperature, and applied pressure. How well you understand the role of each variable will determine your ability to troubleshoot issues and maintain a well-functioning system.

Restriction Value

Restriction value includes gravity (or lift and fall) and altitude. For a beer to pour properly, the restriction value needs to equal the applied pressure. Bar owners typically don’t need to pay much attention to restriction value unless they’re installing a draft beer system or setting up a kegerator.
The key is to maintain a balance between applied pressure and restriction volume. The flow rate for a perfect pint is about two ounces per second.


Of the three values, temperature is the most important. The quality of beer involves the proper temperature during storage and dispensation. Dispense draft beer at 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature determines applied pressure, which determines restriction.

Applied Pressure

Cooler temperature and the source of carbonation will determine the applied pressure. For example, if the keg cooler is set to 38 degrees, and the beer we’d like to dispense was carbonated at 2.6, the applied pressure should be 12.3 PSI. Bar owners should consult a keg carbonation chart to determine the proper applied pressure for each beer. The right applied pressure will help maintain equilibrium and maximize keg yield when the beer is being dispensed.
The next step is to match the applied pressure with 12.3 lbs. of restriction to the draft beer system. Any imbalance between the restriction value and the applied pressure value will cause problems with dispensing.
If you’re considering purchasing a new draft beer system for your restaurant, contact Glacier Design Systems for a consultation to learn more about your options and to determine what kind of system will best suit your needs.

For more troubleshooting information and assistance, call Glacier Design Systems.

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