Clean Lines make you (a lot) more money
+ Let's do some beer math
A draught system’s only job is to get beer from the keg to the glass with the goal of serving the customer a beer as the brewer intended. That’s it. If it’s not doing that job perfectly, it’s costing you money. In fact…it’s costing you a LOT of money, for many different reasons. Check out a few very conservative hypothetical scenarios below.
Your draught system isn’t balanced properly, is full of yeast, and warm, foamy beer is a small but consistent issue. Temperature is the cause of roughly 95% of dispense issues in a draught system.
Number of Draught Lines in this scenario - 20
You have to pour off the first two pints of beer of the day from a quarter of your taps on a given day to get the beer flowing clear. Since you have 20 taps, that’s 5 of your taps at two beers per tap…so 10 pints of foam per day to get the beer flowing correctly. Each pint is worth $6.50 to you.
10 pints at $6.50 a pint = $65 of profit per day down the drain. If you’re open 7 days a week, that’s $455 a week. If you’re open year round…
$23,660 in lost profit annually from a small foaming issue. This foaming issue was caused by a hot spot in your trunk line…which means your glycol system isn’t working properly.
You clean your draught lines once a month. This isn’t frequent enough, and bacteria/yeast/beer stone slowly build up in your beer lines, barrier tubing, and hardware, which shortens the life of your draught systems and forces you to replace parts much sooner than you needed to had you maintained it properly. New draught systems, with labor, can cost from $10,000 to $30,000 to replace, depending on the size.
Number of Draught Lines in this scenario - 20
Not only can the build-up cause foaming issues, it slowly affects the flavor of your beer until you’ve reached the point of no return. In this scenario, let’s be modest and pretend that every 5th customer notices something wrong with their beer, has an underwhelming experience, and doesn’t order another beer.
If you’re a beer focused restaurant that pours 500 beers a day from your draught system (given that some days are busier than others), and every 5th customer that would have gotten a second round, that ranges from 50-100 beers that don’t get sold per day. Now…your customer might, at that point, switch to a higher margin spirits-based beverage for that trip, but odds are they aren’t coming back any time soon. It’s about the experience. They had a mediocre experience and they will not forget it.
(50 beers at $6.50 a beer) x (5 days a week) = $1,625/week
($1,625/week) x (50 weeks you’re open)…
$81,250 in annual lost profit due to bad beer because of dirty draught lines.
The secret evil behind dirty draught lines are the lost incremental sales. Your customer doesn’t order another pint and you don’t even notice it.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO MAINTAIN MY SYSTEM?
Short answer = Very little on balance. Your average draught company/line cleaning company will charge you roughly $10 bucks/draught line for a cleaning. Let’s do some more math.
Number of Draught Lines - 20
(20 Draught Lines) x ($10/line) x (26 cleanings…which is a cleaning every two weeks religiously)…
$5,200 annual expense to keep your draught lines perfect. If you have more lines, it’s more expensive, but you probably sell more beer…so it’s even more worth it.
If you’ve got a brand new draught system that you maintain perfectly, that puppy should last 15-20 years at a minimum with only very basic maintenance needed to keep it working perfectly. If you do not keep up with the maintenance, you will have to gut renovate the entire thing a lot sooner, which will cost you at least $10,000 in most scenarios. That’s a completely unnecessary expense. You see where we’re going with this?
Clean lines mean you’re respecting your customer
one of these three things will happen:
If you’re a retailer, and your customer has a bad pint of beer at your establishment due to an issue with your draught system, one of these three things will happen:
They won’t notice that it’s off and they’ll order another one. They’ll have a blissful smile pasted on their face because they really needed a beer and you provided it. This is the the least likely scenario.
They won’t be able to directly tell you why it’s off, but they will realize they’re having a suboptimal experience in short order. You cannot BS people, and regardless of their expertise in beer, people always realize they’re not having a very good pint of beer at some point. They’re unlikely to order another beer, and while they might switch to wine/spirits for their second/ third round during that visit, they’re unlikely to return as often as you’d like, if at all. This is the most likely scenario.
They immediately notice that it tastes bad, or looks bad, and they say something to whomever’s tending bar. They ask for a different beer, which also tastes off, because the issue isn’t with the keg of beer, but rather your draught system. They never come back, and your bar/restaurant slowly get a reputation for poor quality and you lose incremental sales. This is less likely, but it happens every day at thousands of bars and restaurants.
If you serve beer through a draught system and sell it to people for 7 bucks a pint without taking care of your equipment, you’re disrespecting your customer, and you will slowly lose a lot of money over time. Your customer’s consumption patterns are the only things that matters to you as a business, and there’s no shortcut, and no other way of doing it…focusing on draught quality makes you a lot of money…not focusing on it makes you go out of business.
Clean lines mean you’re pouring great beer
Everyone loses when you pour bad beer.
Breweries make less money,
Distributors make less money
You make a lot less money as a retailer
Worse of all, the customer has to drink sh$tty beer that wasn’t how the brewer intended them to drink it…and then the ENTIRE beer industry suffers because we lose them as a drinker and they start drinking wine/spirits more consistently. Beer is wonderful, spectacular, incredibly delicious beverage and everyone should enjoy it. Draught quality best practices are a long term investment with massive returns. Please take the time to focus on the value drivers for your business, and right now, beer quality is the lowest hanging fruit we have.