Which taps/faucets are the best for use in brewpubs/taproom/pubs?

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by howtoservebeer, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    With so many kinds of taps around, would like to ask pubs/taproom owners, barmen, beertenders, homebrewers etc on their experience with the taps, what features that are must haves, features that are just gimmicky, what brands you would recommend or not recommend and why?

    I'm thinking recommending for high frequent usage in bars, frequent dismantling to clean, whether they are easily accumulate yeasts or leaks due to wear and tear of the O rings and spacers.

    I believe there are some features that are must haves, ie full stainless steel, from body, shaft, lever.

    Some overall designs are big difference from each other such as
    1) Standard "US"
    2) "Euro style" *From the photos I gathered, it seemed extended spouts are euro style.
    3) Perlick style
    4) "Easypour"
    5) Intertap design *their body are much unique to itself.

    Others smaller features such as:
    1) Self Closing
    2) Short or long spout
    3) With or without flow control (Compensator)
    4) Forward seal *no idea what this does.
    5) Push back creamer. *Supposedly for you to generate foam when the head is not thick enough.

    1) Micromatic
    2) Celli
    3) Intertap
    4) Perlick
    5) Talos (might see an increase in price due to the tariffs)

    I post some photos here so that we have the same reference names to the taps and not to advertise the manufacturers.
    "Euro" Style with flow control from MM.

    Standard stainless steel without flow control from MM.

    Easypour from MM.
    Seems chunky, wonder if makes pouring easier. Anybody used this? Any difference from the others?

    SS with flow control from Intertap.

    SS with flow control from Perlick. Some swears its the best, some says it leaks.
    Guess it depends on the model.

    Do not know what its called, have not seen or used this before. Anybody?

    SS tap with flow control from Celli.
  2. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (674) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    The best one is the one used to pour my beer.

  3. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,609) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

  4. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    billandsuz likes this.
  5. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    You have a pretty good summary

    1. standard faucets have been in use for about 50 years and perform well. they are standard because the design works.
    2. Euro and Euro style can be two things. Euro refers to the threads and the shank. As in, metric and not compatible. But you can get Euro faucets with US threads that fit US shanks. AND you can get Euro faucets that mate to a Euro threaded shank and have that installed, if that is what you want. And pay twice as much.

    Euro Style is applied differently to many brands, so it is not really an industry standard design.

    3. Perlick Perls have been through a few design changes, and they have had problems, but in general they are the best design, and pretty much the only relevant design change in 50 years. We have hundreds and hundreds installed and the latest deign is solid. They are also built very well and easy to service and clean.

    4. Easypour. Like the speed pour? there is nothing difficult about pouring beer if the system is designed correctly. And you absolutely do not need or want a speed pour faucet.

    5. Intertap. See Perlick. Intertap is fine, but rare and not as field tested. And personally we see no need for them. They are machined very well, I have a few mostly out of curiosity. Can't recommend these though.

    1. No. Don't. Bad design bad idea not needed does nothing and makes it more difficult to control. And gets clogged with gunk. And also if it is self closing, it is a POS all around.

    2. Either but long spout helps with wine and cider, a bit, but really there is not much difference. Perlicks pour a very nice stream (called the Rope). Long spouts can cause a bit of turbulence.

    3. Flow control, not needed or should not be needed. They offer a little advantage but wont fix a poorly designed system. And they do cost a bit more. Home brewers like them, but you will find they are used in limited applications, and this is key, mostly at brew pubs/tasting rooms where the brewer owner installed the system and thought they would be a good idea. generally, in industry, professionals have no need. Some people like them. I don't dislike them.

    Note that Euro flow controls, with the Euro shanks, are much better than US design. The shank is really long and the flow control mechanism is longer too, and works much better. But installing them is a circus of parts and compatibility. And they are really costly. And we have never actually installed one either, so there is that. But I have seen them in use and they are marvelous.

    4. Forward seal is simply the Perlick perl design. That's it. No beer in the faucet when closed, sanitary and doesn't stick. Good design.

    5. Not needed. If you know how to pour a beer its not needed but can be useful. You can throttle a regular faucet or drop the glass and get the same effect.
    Micromatic makes great product. A lot of it is made by others, but it is all quality. They are way overpriced. The faucets are huge and chunky standard and look kind of Art Deco. I really do not like them but they are very high quality. Just don't pay retail whatever you do. We have about 36 left over. MM will not sell a tower without their own faucets unlike anyone else, so if you want a MM tower with Perlick faucets you are going to have left over MM faucets. MM really is obnoxious in so many ways.

    2. Celli. We use rarely because they are just more expensive, but they are fine. These are Italian btw.

    3. Intertap is redundant for me, because Perlcik.

    4. Talos. No experience.
    The single most important thing , above all else, Stainless Steel. Pay for stainless. Especially if you have wine or cider. We recently replaced 8 chrome plated Perls at a local brewery that had been in service for 18 months. We can' reuse those because they are already showing brass. And Perlick chrome is really good too! Not all chrome faucets are junk, but pretty much all s/s faucets are made well. It is well worth the cost. 304 s/s is standard. 316 long spout is available and good for wine or cider.

    Check out "Krome" brand faucets. Great value in s/s standard. The extended spout faucet is great too, 316 s/s. Made in India. Great value s/s couplers too.

    Feel free to ask any questions. Hope this helps.
    #5 billandsuz, Jul 14, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  6. IceAce

    IceAce Champion (897) Jan 8, 2004 California

    Bill took you line by line through your choices and I concur almost completely.

    100% Stainless is always my recommendation. The chrome plating on brass eventually wears off leaving exposed brass...and that is not a good thing. (You can’t spell brass without ‘ass’)

    For longevity, ease of cleaning and reliability, you simply can’t go wrong with Micromatic. As Bill said, their standard faucet (the 303)has been around forever and it’s because it is a workhorse.

    We switched the Yard House chain in Southern California exclusively to the Micromatic 304 faucets and they have performed admirably, have less yeast build-up, pour perfectly and are as (if not more) durable as anything else in the marketplace. This is not a small test sample either as most of their locations have 130 beer lines.

    While we are on the subject of stailless, ensure that your shanks, tailpieces and couplers are all stainless as well! The little extra expenditure in the beginning will ensure quality draught beer for years to come as long as the system is cleaned every two weeks.
    billandsuz and donspublic like this.
  7. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    Easypour like how MM stated it for their tap. Any experience with this model? See directly below.

    Some say it helps with those small leakage or staff accidentally turning the tap on. Thoughts?

    How do the longer pieces make it work much better? I suppose work better means you can control the flow without creating turbulence with the flow?

    Overall is it good feature to have?

    How do you tell which are the models that are built inhouse or OEMed?

    Seems like MM overpriced, Celli expensive. I guess Perlick is the most value for money?
    Haven't seen Krome though.
  8. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    I should have pointed out, as you are getting experience with these things, a faucet is a faucet and a tap is what gets connected to the keg, aka coupler. Yes tap is used interchangeably with faucet but not usually in industry, and a faucet does not tap anything. You tap a keg, traditionally with a mallet etc. So the name stuck.

    I am not too familiar with the MM easy pour, that is used by a local establishment and they seem to be happy. I am not sure what is so hard about using a faucet though and if you want to be different then that is an option. Why Easy Pour? My company does not spec MM unless we are asked too.

    Some say it helps with those small leakage or staff accidentally turning the tap on. Thoughts?

    Small leaks do not occur if properly installed and maintained. Staff that accidentally turn on a faucet should not be allowed near a faucet, and I am being serious. It is actually more difficult to use a self closing faucet imo, it wants to close for you.

    How do the longer pieces make it work much better? I suppose work better means you can control the flow without creating turbulence with the flow?

    There is a piston inside the faucet that is pushed or pulled into position and depending on where the piston sits it widens or closes a gap that allows beer to flow. Domestic design has a pretty short piston. Euro faucets feature a longer piston is all. (It is worth noting that Perlick specifically avoids mentioning that their flow control is a means to increase resistance. It's not something that is calculated, and every pro system should be carefully calculated to work correctly. It is our opinion that systems that are poorly designed will use flow controls to attempt to fix what shouldn't be broken. And we notice flow controls appear at breweries and pubs... where the owner did not know draft system installations but is maybe too broke or proud hire a professional. Just saying.)

    For long spout designs...
    We think they are mostly more elegant. Wine and cider does not foam very much if at all, and the long spout does produce more turbulence, as the neck is quite a bit thinner diameter. So the liquid comes out faster. The long neck goes well with a wine glass, but it's mostly aesthetic. Also, we can get 316 SS long neck faucets and those won't corrode. Wine and cider are relatively aggressive, even for standard 304 SS. 316 is just insurance.

    Overall is it good feature to have?
    Yes. The point of the design is to eliminate exposed beer. Standard faucets have vent holes that will get gummy if not cleaned. BUT that's only if you don't clean your draft equipment. Same with stuck faucets. It can happen if the bar is slow, not usually a problem at a commercial establishment. Perls are basically fancy and high end and they look cool, but you don't need them. You want them though. That's why we spec them on almost all our jobs. Some people aren't all that excited about Perls so that is cool too. (I'm not a big MM fan for example). They are undeniably built well and they don't have too many parts.

    How do you tell which are the models that are built inhouse or OEMed?
    Years of experience, or you ask someone with years of experience. Doesn't really matter anyway. Faucet prices are pretty competitive. Go Amazon and check it out, most industry suppliers are right around the same price.
    Perlick, Abeco, and MM are faucet manufacturers who also sell wholesale, MM sells retail as well, with a sometimes 100% markup over wholesale There are others I am certainly forgetting. You absolutely will not find a Perl at MM and vice versa. Draft distributors will carry a variety, and it's like Ford and Chevy. Wholesalers will sell either Perlick and some others or MM and some others but not both Perlick and MM, with one exception I can think of.

    Seems like MM overpriced, Celli expensive. I guess Perlick is the most value for money?
    Haven't seen Krome though.

    You can't go wrong with any of those in SS. MM is expensive but don't get me wrong, they are relatively competitive wholesale. We just don't like them so for us, they are too expensive. Krome is a value brand but quality. If you are bidding a 40 faucet system it can save maybe $800, with an option for Perlick if the client feels flush.

  9. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    Thanks guys.

    Ok quick summary:
    1. Mentioned right at the start. Go full stainless steel if possible.
    2. Euro style spouts. Preferable for wine/cider which are not too gaseous. Slightly more to do with aesthetics than functionality.
    3. Self closing function. More difficult to control and more areas for sediments to accumulate.
    4. Flow control. Not needed for a draft lines set up by professionals. Personally, I'll still get it even if my lines are set up by professionals. If all else is constant, I'll just leave the flow control at the same place. I think the kegs are the variables in the chain and the flow control is my last mile solution.
    5. Forward seal. Not that important if you clean your taps regularly.
    6. Overall, faucet market is competitive. Just compare the prices and decide which design you fancy.
    Hey @billandsuz , which Perls or other brand faucet models are your most recommended?
  10. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    I like your summary, but remember it's just one guys opinion. My recommendations work for us, and we think it works for our clients too.

    Personally, we specify Perlick S/S forward seal model #630 90% of the time.
    These are wholesales at $45.95 ea, $42.95 12+ and $39.95 +24. Plus shipping which ain't cheap; they are heavy.
    Flow controls are $57.95 ea (which is easily beat elsewhere).

    If you are making a large purchase of equipment, over $500, ask the wholesaler to prepare a quote for you. They might be able to beat the catalog price, and in the least it won't increase in price.

    So if you are looking on Amazon or elsewhere that's a good place to start. Prices are competitive for those things.

    The older discontinued Perlicks are Models 425, 525 and 575. Do not bother with those models.

    Krome dispense makes a really nice 316 S/S extended spout, $32.95 ea. Made in India, that and the Krome Standard for $25.95 ea are our go to economy brand. We don't install chrome plated.

    So much faucet!
  11. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (266) Oct 20, 2006 California

    I own a bar which uses exclusively Perlick 650ss flow control faucets. We use them for two reasons:
    1) we rotate all of our beers constantly, and the beers which we carry have a wide variety of co2 volumes. You can not calculate a system which will pour a beer at 2vol one day and 3vol just as well the next. Our system is calculated for 2.5, and when any beers are on that are sufficiently higher to require a psi increase, our bartenders are trained to use the flow controls to compensate.
    2) we serve 4oz pours of all our draft beers, served in a 5oz glass. Using flow control faucets almost entirely eliminates waste on these pours, which I can tell you from visiting plenty of breweries and brewpubs is a pretty common sight. Because we aren’t brewing the beer ourselves and are thus paying wholesale prices, we can’t afford 50% efficiency on each sampler pour. You say that you are seeing more brewpubs installing these,and I don’t think it’s because they are too cheap to hire you, I think it’s because they realize how much beer is going down the drain every time someone orders a sampler flight.
  12. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Anytime you are pouring foam it is the result of a poorly designed or maintained system. That much is a fact. Brewpubs are notorious for having shitty systems. They do not need any distributors at headquarters and as a result the distributor has no incentive to help out with labor or equipment.

    Remember too that increasing the psi does not mean the beer pours foamy, it just means there is more dissolved CO2 in the liquid. The foam is due to the increased velocity or incorrect temperature along the line length or usually both. If there are foamy pours all the kegs pour foam, regardless of psi.

    I can't disagree with your observations at your bar, but I can say with certainty if you are dumping 50% of your pours your system is not balanced correctly. If the flow controls are making it work, that is great. But a properly designed system does not need them for compensation, even with the change in pressure of each keg. Sounds like you don't have enough choker installed is my first guess, or their is a hot spot probably right up near the faucet. Well poured beers will come out of well designed system.

    Now all that is great coming from the guy who spends way too much time pondering these things. For the average user, flow controls have their place. I am just saying they are not required is all.

    In any event the fact that you are adjusting pressures for each style is PFA. Most bar owners can't be bothered.

    matthewp likes this.
  13. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (266) Oct 20, 2006 California

    I am well aware of that, but if you are pouring a high velocity beer (for which you have had to increase your psi on that line to stop breakout), you are going to get foaming in the glass due to agitation unless you slow it’s flow at the faucet.
  14. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (266) Oct 20, 2006 California

    Try pouring a KeyKeg or a traditional Belgian lambic or saison on a system designed for 2.5vol American craft beers (or macros for that matter) and tell me how it works for you.
  15. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (266) Oct 20, 2006 California

    The dumping 50% was an observation of other establishments, especially ones that serve a significant amount of samplers. I rarely get below 90% on any keg, and that is due in large part to using flow control faucets on all of my lines, allowing the velocity to be reduced on even the most highly carbonated kegs, eliminating excessive foaming in the glass.
  16. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    I'l have to try that sometime.
    No. Wait!

    Indeed. We have hundreds and hundreds of lines in service and yeah, they work just fine. You suggesting that a system without the flow controls does not work correctly for 3.0 beers. Doesn't that strike you as presumptuous? How do you know? How are you certain it's not your system that is screwy? After all, we are actually charging clients for the work, Our systems have to work correctly. Always. Or we go out of business. Your system on the other hand is yours and yours alone. Other systems you see may or may not be designed correctly. Many are not. There is more to the design than just applied pressure after all.

    This is not a pissing match, but I know for certain our systems are pouring Belgians week in and week out, along with everything in between, and everything is pouring just fine. Swear on it.

    If you like the flow controls, great.
    But they are not required. My advice is simple and based on many years and hundreds of examples.

  17. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (266) Oct 20, 2006 California

    I’m not trying to turn this into a pissing match, I’m just stating that your dismissiveness sounds like it’s coming from a place of defensiveness.

    Ok, just for fun let’s throw out a hypothetical. Let’s build a direct draw system that can pour a keg at 38 degrees that’s pressurized to 3vol. without any breakout in the line or foaming in the glass. What psi would you set for the regulator and what would your line length be? I’m genuinely interested to hear.
  18. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    I believe 3 vols requires 16 psi. On a direct draw you can discard system resistance and just calculate choker restrictions. So at 2.0 psi per foot that is 8 feet of choker. Though I would likely go to maybe 9 feet. You can also pour a 2.5 vol beer with that much restriction, it is just slow. Only during the three deep crush is it really an issue and less than ideal.

    If we have a direct draw set up and there will be a lot of rotations of variably carbed beers we go with a blender and a gas switch or even multiple switches. We can build in a fair amount of restriction at every line, keep the pressure up and get the vols perfect. Or switch to straight CO2 gas if needed. That is the solution and it's not really even that hard but it does add to the cost and the bar manager needs to put in a little effort. That is the speed bump too, the bar manager is typically disinterested. But it is there business, not ours.

    @keylargo can show a picture of a perfectly poured Belgian Golden homebrew, I think 12' of line.

    Some hacks that can help.
    Drop temp to 36.
    Have a QD coupler ready to go and just swap out the choker as needed. Direct draw is the only time that option is worth it.
    Make unauthorized adjustment of the regulator a capital offense.
  19. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    Can I say to cater for the different beers with different co2 vol, its either you adjust the secondary regulator to match the PSI or use the flow control?

    With different beer (a variable) used in the same system, there has to be a control in this system to adjust to this variable? ie flow control or secondary regulator?
  20. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (266) Oct 20, 2006 California

    On our system we do both (to create a balanced, variable system you really need both). If you don’t adjust the input psi with a secondary regulator you will get breakout in the beer line (ie the co2 in the keg that is in excess of the pressure going into it will come out through the beer line, causing bubbles in the line and thus foam). If you increase psi with a secondary regulator to balance the co2 level in the keg you will eliminate breakout in the line, but now your beer will be traveling through the line faster because there is more pressure on it. Your beer line will not provide enough resistance (as a draft system is designed to have beer line of a length sufficient to balance the pressure being exerted on the keg at a standard, median psi), meaning that the beer will exit the faucet at an excessive speed. This causes foaming in the glass. Flow control faucets add extra resistance, slowing the flow and eliminating excess agitation, bringing it back to a desired flow rate.
  21. IceAce

    IceAce Champion (897) Jan 8, 2004 California

    An account pouring a wide variety of styles from around the world would be wise to have secondary regulators on those lines.

    Flow-control works, but it’s more of a hit & miss guessing game.