One Blog |September 13, 2016 | Line Cleaning Software

The Importance of Clean Draught Lines for Beer and Wine Distributors

Mark Fullerton

Ensuring Good Taste

Breweries and wineries work hard to create the best tasting products their master brewers and vintners can make. When the products are ready to make the journey to distributors, steps are taken to assure they are shipped with great care, often in temperature controlled containers and trucks. Likewise, distributors, too, have protocols they follow to ensure ideal conditions for storage exist in their warehouses.

Then, unfortunately, as these great tasting brews and vintages are delivered to, among other places, like bars, pubs and restaurants, it is quite possible all of the care taken up to arriving at the on-premise retailer has been for nothing. 

Why? - Dirty draught lines!

The Impact Of Dirty Lines

First, draught beer flowing through lines that have not been cleaned for some time, while technically “dirty” is unlikely to be harmful when consumed, although there are exceptions. 
Drinking beer pumped through unclean lines, for the most part, simply tastes bad – at worst it may have “chunks” in it, that while disgusting, are usually not harmful to anything but the bottom line.

Next, probably the number one reason for draught beer sales to decline is poor taste. 
The same is true for draught wine, but the requirements for wine line cleaning differ from beer line cleaning. 

What Should Be Your Focus

Dirty draught lines are like an employee who gives “free” beer or wine to his friends or “every now and again” draws himself a glass and drinks your revenue and profits while on the job. Most of us would fire an employee who essentially stole from the bar by the practices just mentioned. 

Unclean draught lines are like the employee described above – only worse. Even if you have to pay to have your draught lines cleaned, studies have shown, cleaning doesn’t have a negative effect on net cost. Rather, it has a positive effect on sales! In many states, beer distributors will offer their customers line cleaning services at no charge.

In other words: The bottom line regarding line cleaning is the bottom line! Clean lines mean a better bottom line – dirty lines, well, you know.

The Economic Impact Of Clean Draught Lines

According to a “DraughtQuality.org” study, the impact of dirty draught beer lines is a revenue reduction of nearly 7%.  On the other hand, the impact of keeping beer draught lines on a 14-day cleaning schedule will increase sales between 4% - 7%

For draught wines, there are even more compelling reasons to: 

  1. Switch to tap wines for your “house wine” program; and, 
  2. Keep your draught wine lines clean. Due to the much higher alcohol content, and lower sugar content, draught wine line cleaning can be put on a 90-day cleaning schedule.

And, there’s more good news for those establishments choosing to offer “tap wine” than elongated cleaning schedules. 

For more industry information on this topic, click this link: 

www.draughtquality.org/wp-content/uploads/BA_Economics_of_Draught_Beer_Quality_2013_Power_Hour.pdf

Summary

All of the reasons customers enjoy draught beer seem to apply to draught wines – and then some. For more information on kegged wines see the Addendum below.

Of course, with more and more draught lines to be cleaned, it is important that the cleaning schedules and reports, to both suppliers and retail customers, are maintained and produced using a system that will:

  • Monitor when customers’ draught lines are to be cleaned;
  • Keep track of accounts that are overdue or were somehow missed;  
  • Get the customers’ signatures indicating that the cleanings were done on schedule; and 
  • Provide reports outlining all the pertinent data about the account’s line conditions including parts that required or will soon require replacement or repair 

Of course, such a system exists today and it’s called LineTrak developed by OnTrak Software. 

The best way to see the value of LineTrak is to click the following link: To Request a Demo, or call one of our product experts at 513-936-4041
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Addendum

More Information on Draft Wine

Environmental - The wine bottling process is resource intensive: It includes bottles, corks, labels, boxes and pallets.  Keg wine eliminates an incredible amount of the detritus and the kegs themselves may be reused for many years. Additionally, a standard keg, holds 26 bottles worth of wine.  This is important because wines sold by the glass are now about 80% of all wine sold in restaurants. The resources I could find calculate that works out to some 600 million glass bottles annually. Simply put, if only 10% of wines by the glass came from a keg, there would be 60 million fewer bottles needed each year – a cost savings of 60 million times the cost of a bottle yearly.  Also, since kegs reduce the weight of transported wine, up to 50% of the wine industry’s transportation caused carbon emissions would be eliminated. Face it, even wine snobs (like me) have to admit such environmental benefits make a compelling argument for draught wine. 

Kegs, unlike opened bottles, don’t allow oxygen to ruin the taste of wine – meaning up to 40% less wasted wine for the restaurant. Another consequence of this “no oxygen” feature is that the first glass and final glass of wine from a keg taste the same, which will go far toward building the loyalty of your restaurant’s customers. 

Economic Advantages - For the winery, the distributor, the on premise retailer and of some importance too, I’d imagine, for the customers, wine in kegs makes great financial sense, too. Here’s why: Bottling is very costly – much more so than kegging. The bottom line – Kegged wines can save wineries up to 30% vs. the exact same wines if they are bottled. Therefore, Kegs can and do result in profit margin increases of at least 25% for restaurants vs. selling the same wines by the glass from bottles. Due to most of the waste being eliminated by serving kegged wines, restaurants can generate even higher profit margins by offering some of the high-end wines that are now kegged by the glass.

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