Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

“Britain basks in the hottest day for over 40 years.”

Headlines like this are great news for publicans as they drive people into pub gardens for a refreshing drink or two. But, and there’s always a but, they also bring their own challenges to the beer dispense equipment, which to be fair is not really designed to cope with extended periods of high temperatures.

This time of the year brewery technical services departments are working at full tilt to repair cellar cooling systems that have fallen over, normally right in the middle of a busy trading session!

Here are a few suggestions for things you can do to keep the beer flowing.

Cellar cooling takes the heat from the cellar and effectively dumps it outside. On the wall outside you cellar you will see the heat dumps, they are normally black or grey boxes with an internal fan with a grid over it. Make sure the grid is clear of leaves and debris and the fan is rotating correctly. Take a look around the box to make sure it has a good air flow, that way you will maximise its cooling efficiency. You may have a number of boxes for both your cellar cooling and your remote coolers but the principle is the same, they all need a good air flow. Sometimes they are positioned in direct sunlight and in the middle of a really hot day with the sun beating down they struggle. Put up a parasol or umbrella to shield them from the suns hot rays.

Back in you cellar make sure there are no heat sources warming it up and competing with the cellar cooling. Ice machines, soft drink remotes, washing machines, fridges all produce heat and need to be outside of the main cellar.

You may need to handle your beer differently as well. Keg beer if delivered warm will take longer to cool down and if you put it onto your lines when it’s still warm it will fob as the gas dissolved in it comes out of solution the warmer the beer is. Cask beer brings its own set of problems. If it has warmed up on the delivery lorry it could have started its secondary fermentation and if you vent it too early you will get a beer shampoo so let it cool to cellar temperature first. Always try and get it into the cellar as soon as possible or it will keep fermenting and eventually the internal pressure can blow the keystones and shives right out of the cask. You may need to pre cool your bottles before you put them into the fridges, keeping them in the cellar is ok but bear in mind they are a heat source so are putting a strain on the cellar cooling.

Line cleaning is also affected in hot weather as any yeast in the line will grow faster than normal so you may need to reduce your 7 day cleaning cycle to a 4 or 5 day one.

Glassware is going to take longer to cool down once it has come out of the glass washer and putting cold beer into a warm glass will cause it to fob. You can speed up the drying and cooling process by getting an office fan and directing the air flow onto the glass baskets. Don’t be tempted to reduce the temperature of the glass washer as this will cause you even more problems with a poor glass cleaning regime and potentially unsterile glasses.

Ice makers are going to be working overtime but can be a potential risk of contamination. If you following the following rules you will help minimise this.

Wash hands before getting ice from ice making machine. Hold only the ice scoop handle and not other parts of the scoop. Do not scoop ice using water glasses or cups and never handle the ice with hands. Do not return unused ice to the ice machine/ice bin. Keep doors of the commercial ice machine closed except when removing ice. Ice scoops should be stored outside the ice maker and kept in a clean container. Ice scoop & container should be washed & sanitized regularly. Do not store anything such as food, drinks, fruit etc. in the ice machine. Never use the ice machine as a refrigerator! Clean the ice making machine regularly and fix all problems identified.

Finally keep an eye on the state of your outside areas. Hopefully you are going to have a lot of people drinking outside but there is nothing more uninviting that a messy pub garden with empty glasses, crisp packets and full ashtrays. Regular sweeps of the area by your staff should keep on top of this.

Being a publican is a hard life, whilst your customers are lazing around on a hazy summer day you running about making them comfortable and welcome, console yourself with the ringing of the till and think about your well-earned break in the sun when you customers are complaining about the coldest winter for over 40 years!