DIY: Hand-Pump Beer Line Cleaner

We’ve all been served from a dirty draft line at some point, leaving us with a flat, soapy flavored beer lacking any of the usual hops “bite” or maltiness that we remember.

Since I pieced together my minimalist kegging setup, I have left StarSan no-rinse sanitizer in the lines to avoid this, hoping that the disinfectant would keep them clean and microbe-free. However, from experience, I know that StarSan can also leave them sticky and it’s not a cleaner, only a sanitizer.

Either way, eventually they need to be cleaned. Now is the time.

Many people use a spare keg to hold cleaning fluid or simply use their empty beer keg to flush the lines. I didn’t have a keg or the space to spare, and I didn’t want to spend $40-50 on a purpose-built setup for something I’d be doing once every month or so, so I built my own.

Here are the ingredients, which I purchased at the local Home Depot:

  • Pump sprayer, 1-gal (RL Flo-Master Model 56HD)
  • Teflon tape
  • Brass coupling: 3/8 in OD x 1/4 in OD (Watts LFA-109)
  • Brass flare fitting: 1/4 in FL x 1/4 in MIP (Watts LFA-80)

Total Cost: ~$15

Steps:

  1. Unscrew the green nozzle on the sprayer. This is a 3/8 in threaded connection. Wrap this connection with Teflon tape. I wrapped 4 times which seemed sufficient.
  2. Screw on the 3/8 x 1/4 brass coupling.
  3. Wrap the threads on the MIP end of the 1/4 FL x 1/4 MIP brass flare fitting with teflon tape. Screw the MIP non-tapered end of the fitting onto the coupling.
couplings
Packaging for the two brass fittings you’ll need

The flare end will face outwards and connect to clean your tubing, it probably will not need tape.

Your pump sprayer will no longer hold its own pressure since you’ve replaced the nozzle. Instead, connect the pump sprayer to the MFL disconnect on your keg before pumping.

Others have done a similar project, only using a pin-lock keg disconnect instead of a 1/4 flare. If you’re looking to clean from the keg disconnect through the tubing, this is a good option, though you’ll have to buy the parts at a homebrew store, probably online. See this thread for more details.

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