The small systems making a big difference to beverage quality

Coffee machine

New developments in push-fit technology within the drinks dispenser market mean that foodservice businesses can now serve alcohol and beverages at a consistent temperature. It’s the latest evolution in a product category that plays a vital but often unseen role in ensuring customers’ thirsts are quenched, writes Gary Hall of John Guest.

Within a 12 month period up to 31 March this year, on-trade beer sales totalled 13.6 million barrels. With this amount of beer being consumed year upon year in the UK’s pubs, restaurants and bars, it is essential that the standard of dispense quality remains high to maintain outlet reputation and meet brand expectation and customer satisfaction.

With this in mind, beer cellar and bar installations need to meet and exceed stringent standards and one component in particular that is essential to the nation’s draught beer dispense is the humble push-fit fitting.

A staple of the beer and beverage industry for more than 30 years, it is virtually impossible to find a pub in the UK where draught beer isn’t passing through several push-fit fittings on route from keg to beer font. There are estimated to be many millions of John Guest push-fit connectors used globally for various beer and beverage dispense applications.

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Universally used throughout the drinks industry for draught beer and carbonated beverage dispense, push-fit connectors are applied to both product and CO2/N2 gas lines in a cellar. Quick, reliable and easy to apply, the fitting can be used with both plastic and soft metal tubing and securely connects a wide range of system equipment, such as coolers, carbonators, keg couplers, taps and regulators to transport liquids without risk of contamination or leakage.

The push-fit technology also offers the capability to disconnect easily without the necessity of tools, making it a truly essential piece of kit for beer and beverage applications.

Replacing the industry’s use of brass compression fittings in the early 1980s, push-fit technology, invented by John Guest himself in the early 1970s, changed the face of a draught dispense installation, reducing tooling needs, installation time and enabling a reliable leak-proof seal every time. Complex tubing systems could be assembled much more rapidly than with traditional compression and swaged methods and, because push-fit fittings are easy to disconnect and reconnect, fault finding and maintenance became a much easier operation.

Such a component isn’t limited to beer and carbonated drink dispense in pub installations; the fittings are also widely used in water purification and point-of-use vending, as well as being used for barista machine installation to connect mains water supply. The beverage industry as a whole relies heavily on push-fit fittings to make a secure food grade connection and maintain reliable fluid control over many years of trouble-free use. A push-fit fitting, despite its very simplistic push and lock ability — so simple it often doesn’t seem credible to those that are not familiar with them, performs a vital role in transporting liquids, and is truly ‘fit and forget’.

As an addition to the standard push-fit fittings, innovative cartridge technology to enable push-fit integration into equipment has also been used for many years by OEMs. Push-fit Cartridges are commonly used in system components including fob detectors, pumps, fonts, keg couplers, control valves and regulators.

A cost-effective way of incorporating a push-fit connection into a wide range of original equipment, a cartridge system is neat and compact and provides the same easy tube connection as the standard push-fit connector. Simple to assemble, cartridge fittings complement the push-fit range and require only a low insertion force but offer a high burst pressure capability.

The beverage industry as a whole relies heavily on push-fit fittings to make a secure food grade connection and maintain reliable fluid control over many years of trouble-free use”

Although the push-fit technology radically changed the way systems were installed some 30 years ago, the need for advancement hasn’t stopped. One way in which the beer industry is about to evolve is the method in which draught beer temperature is controlled and maintained.

The ability to provide dedicated cooling to each individual beer line from keg to font offers benefits in low temperature performance and consistency as well as hygiene benefits from reduced microbiological activity at low temperature, maintaining beer quality and reducing fobbing wastage.

Understanding the importance of brand quality and experience is paramount to both brand owner and the retailer, with the desire being to maintain beer quality from the brewing process through to the customer experience.
Temperature control of the product in the draught dispense system is also vitally important to maintaining this standard. John Guest’s new innovation  has enabled advancement in traditional draught dispense cooling methods by producing a unique and revolutionary connector that enables improved temperature performance throughout the entire draught dispense system.

JG Drinks Dispense - Hands Fitting Pipe

Push-fit fittings are increasingly used for barista machine installation to connect mains water supply.

John Guest ‘PolarClean’ connectors provide a tube-in-tube arrangement which effectively enables the entire beer line to be engulfed in coolant — whereas a traditional system only offers 360-degree ‘flash’ cooling ability in small sections of the system, for example the cooler water bath or secondary cooling device (cooling pod).

These systems often attempt to compensate for temperature control inadequacies in the rest of the system. As part of a tube-in-tube installation, PolarClean provides a means to maintain draught dispense beer quality without the necessity of coldroom beer storage or secondary cooling devices.

This ability also means that draught beer dispensers may be feasible for sites which would otherwise have been restricted to offering package beer, due to having no coldroom facility or bar space for secondary cooling devices. The result, in simple terms, is an extra cold draught beer being consistently poured.

Most people will take the perfect pint for granted, however there is considerable technology employed in achieving this and John Guest push-fit fittings, albeit small in relation to other equipment, are critical to this experience. And with the advancement of tube-in-tube systems, the perfect pint or beverage becomes more of an expectation rather than a chance experience.

Gary Hall is divisional director for UK special products at John Guest, a manufacturer of push-fit fittings, tube and other fluid control products for drinks dispense and pure water applications. www.johnguest.com

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