Pulling off beer at start of session

The reality here is that modern beer dispense systems are designed to prevent this practice ever being necessary. Be it cask or keg beer ‘pulling off’should not be carried out.

The above statement is published on this site. As a drinker of 40 years experience I disagree with this. The pub, and the line leading to the bar pump is warmer than the cellar and “first pints” are often warmish and flattish, even in a cask marque acreddited cellar.

  20 comments for “Pulling off beer at start of session

  1. Tall Alex
    21st March 2010 at 8:15 pm

    G’day keenhomebrewer,
    To a certain extent you are right.On keg stuff,once the line leaves the Python,apart from the lagging,it is no longer cooled.Generally the distance between the Python and the glass is a couple of feet at most.This does make a difference on the first one off even though the uncooled quantity involved equates to about a mouthful.
    Cask Ale does not perform well if it goes through the Python,it is better served at Cellar temparature.By its nature the line is not cooled or lagged so there is nothing to stop the ambient temparature in the bar heating the line.
    As a time served pisshead of 20 odd years I fully understand what you are driving at and,by experience have found that,the second pint tastes better.
    You could try the opening gambit of "Is this the first one off Boss? I’ll give you a Quid for it…" It might work.Once.
    Oh,by the way ,if the keg stuff is fed to the bar by Microline then the chances are that you can sneeze more than the uncooled portion of the line contains.
    Good Health and Good Ale friend,hope this helps.

    • Brian parish
      6th December 2017 at 6:53 pm

      I have been drinking beer as in ale bitter for 48 years. Although most of my friends are beer drinkers it is not unusual if you go into a pub these days where everyone is on lagers so that you find the first pint of bitter drawn is warmer and possibly slightly stale than the second because it has not been at cellar temperature but in the pipe (accto distance) for some time.
      So I may say what’s the most popular pint? Knowing that I shd get a fresh one. Or if you have a mate then you do the ‘decent’ thing and give him the first pint!
      My local new landlord went ballistic when I asked him on arrival when had he pulled the last pint of bitter? Or I wld have a lager.
      Reply was confusing so when I got it I said it was quite warm but drank it without issue but faced a tirade of abuse about kegs use to be behind the bar and anyway there is only 3/4 of a pint in the pipe. But failed to grasp the significance of what he just said. Beers should be at room temperature he argued…. I replied no the norm these days is cellar temperature which is some degrees cooler.
      I drank it within 10mins and ordered a second pint and advised him that I do not wish to wind him up but this one is much cooler.
      At which point he swore at me and told me he would come round the counter and duff me up!
      I took my beer away drank it hurriedly returned the glass and wished him a good evening.
      I later learnt that he has been in the trade for 50+ years but can be surprisingly aggressive.
      Mysterious sneezing after a new barrel, you may have given me the explanation, thanks.
      Meanwhile I will turn a blind eye on the belligerent old git. The customers were shaking their heads in disbelief at his negative over reaction.

  2. boz
    21st March 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Most, if not all cask beer installations use temperature controlled pythons,and are both insullated and cooled to the point of dispense. These pythons are separate from the keg beer lines and have a higher temperature,to enable cask beer to be served at the correct temperature.Also modern beer engines have a temperature controlled water jacket fitted to keep any beer within the cylinder fresh and cool.
    The idea that brewers would design systems that required beer to be pulled off at every new service period is wrong and would not make financial sense. Go into any Wetherspoons and see if they pull gallons of beer off before service.Years ago yours was the case, and landlords would often be seen pulling off beer and pouring it into a bucket ,ready to be filtered back.
    Having installed these systems for quite some time, may I reassure you Ken that provided the cask beer system is a relatively newish one and not some out of date piece of kit, the practice of pulling off pints at the beginning of service is not required. If cask lines are clean,beer pulled off after a period of non use should be suitable for sale.

  3. Maverick
    21st March 2010 at 10:49 pm

    keenhomebrewer wrote: The reality here is that modern beer dispense systems are designed to prevent this practice ever being necessary. Be it cask or keg beer “pulling off” should not be carried out.

    The above statement is published on this site. As a drinker of 40 years experience I disagree with this. The pub, and the line leading to the bar pump is warmer than the cellar and "first pints" are often warmish and flattish, even in a cask marque acreddited cellar.

    Most new installations of keg beer are now are now cooled to the point of dispense hence the condensation. The system you talk about would only mean a fraction of the pint would be warm as it goes through 3/16 pipe however some bitters use 3/8 pipe so it may cause the first pint a little bit of froth. With cask ales depending on cylinders which already has been said without jackets could be a 1/4 or 1/2 pint could be warm, though a lot cylinders have jackets, that are not been used.

    You may disagree with that statement but I would disagree with you. The main reason for drawing beer off at the start of each session I would put down to the quality of the lines. If the lines are clean there should be no reason to ever draw off beer. But if there is yeast saturation in the line this will infect the good beer overnight. And cost the publican a fortune, if you have these problems I would call out cellar services and discuss them with the technician when he calls.

  4. scottish pride
    23rd March 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I would agree with everything that Maverick has said. If the beer is in date and the lines are clean there is no need to waste the product drawing it off. Especially when you have a temperature controlled cellar and a python

  5. keenhomebrewer
    24th March 2010 at 7:52 pm

    "If cask lines are clean,beer pulled off after a period of non use should be suitable for sale."

    My experience of cask real ales is that if a pub has too many on, (mine has 8) but not enough trade to warrant it, some barrels only dispense a pint or 2 a night. I always ask for the best seller (get it) first, and then observe what beers are selling, if I see at least 3 pulled off, I order one.

    I speak as I find, I have been offered beers that are flat and too warm, and then have to argue with the landlord for a replacement. I pay £2.70 a pint and upwards, for that I want a beer in perfect condition, not just "suitable for sale".

    Off to my local now….

  6. nicoteenrush
    24th March 2010 at 10:49 pm

    keenhomebrewer wrote: "If cask lines are clean,beer pulled off after a period of non use should be suitable for sale.".

    That should be ok.

    My experience of cask real ales is that if a pub has too many on, (mine has 8) but not enough trade to warrant it, some barrels only dispense a pint or 2 a night.

    All cask ale should move quickly, if it is 3.8% approx you only have three days to sell it anyway. It is better to sell it in two day though if the ale is 4.5% a day or two longer. If your local is only selling a few pints a night they shouldn’t be selling it anyway. That is the trouble with cask ale pubs sometimes they have too much choice. Instead of fast moving.

    I pay £2.70 a pint and upwards, for that I want a beer in perfect condition, not just "suitable for sale".

    And that is what you should settle for nothing less.

  7. keenhomebrewer
    25th March 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Out of interest I can name one pub where all 6 real ales were 10/10.

    It is Beamish Hall Pub and Restaurant, in county durham. The beers are brewed all of 25 metres away in their own brewery. I suspect the head brewer, a lovely man, checks on things daily.

    Another superb pub is The Aletaster, in Gateshead.

    I live in Northamptonshire.

  8. pump cleaner
    26th March 2010 at 9:03 pm

    hi keenhomebrewer. i never did like beamish.prefer the real thing.
    pump cleaner.

  9. Bar Fly
    28th March 2010 at 9:32 am

    I clean my beer lines with protinate once a week and never have a problem.I never pull off and my beer is always spot on.

  10. scottish pride
    28th March 2010 at 8:09 pm

    You must be congratulated Bar Fly on your pipe cleaning there are to many cowboys in the trade now cutting corners and giving us beer that that looks and tastes terrible.
    keep up the good work

  11. keenhomebrewer
    3rd April 2010 at 3:44 pm

    barfly, where is your pub mate, i travel a lot and will come in to taste your beers…

  12. keenhomebrewer
    3rd April 2010 at 3:45 pm

    pump cleaner, do not confuse the beramish museum etc with beamish they are not related…

  13. pump cleaner
    3rd April 2010 at 5:02 pm

    thank you keenhomebrewer for clarifying that for me, i now know i was wrong.
    pumpcleaner.

  14. clampi2004
    30th May 2010 at 2:03 pm

    i have fosters and john smiths on tap and always have to pull of like 1 1/4 pint of each at the start of the night, or the fosters smells not right and the john smiths just comes out cream for the first 2 pints, only thing that i do that im not sure if it is right is turn the gases off every night and on again before i open, pipes are cleaned every week with pipex.
    And yesterday lost like 5 pints of fosters just to it being really creamy. anyone now whats going on?

    is this easy to fix?
    or should i get in contact with my rep and get some one out to look at it?

  15. Maverick
    30th May 2010 at 4:36 pm

    clampi2004 wrote: i have fosters and john smiths on tap and always have to pull of like 1 1/4 pint of each at the start of the night, or the fosters smells not right and the john smiths just comes out cream for the first 2 pints, only thing that i do that im not sure if it is right is turn the gases off every night and on again before i open, pipes are cleaned every week with pipex.
    And yesterday lost like 5 pints of fosters just to it being really creamy. anyone now whats going on?

    is this easy to fix?
    or should i get in contact with my rep and get some one out to look at it?

    I think others will agree with me, judging by the way you describe your problem it sounds like a yeast infection. Even though you are cleaning the lines out every week, have you got all the yeast out? I would get one of the brewery recommended line cleaners and give it a really good clean or as someone has already said they use, Protinate line cleaner, I find this is a really good heavy duty cleaner. Leave it in the line for 3/4 hr pulling fresh solution through twice at 15 min intervals. Then if this hasn’t cured it, you can call out your brewery technician with a clear conscience knowing there is nothing wrong with your line and ask him for advice. Let us know how you get on.

  16. clampi2004
    31st May 2010 at 12:41 am

    all was fine tonight, but still having to pull off first pint,is that what u meant by a sign of a yeast infection? or was it the creamy lager, because lager was fine tonight think it was just the change in temp in the cellar, used pipex as sunday is the night i clean the pipes but did pull it through every 15 mins 3 times till the solution was purple as the john smiths was coming through green, which means pipes aint clean enough. so please clarify, sohould i be needing to pull of 1 1/4 each day? and should i leave the gases on over night? and what was the sign of a yeast infection?

  17. Maverick
    31st May 2010 at 10:52 am

    Sorry by yeast infection I mean yeast in the lines. Another clue now is why do you have a change in temp in the cellar. If the temp isn’t 13 degrees and warmer this accelerates the growth of yeast like rising bread.

    But at the end of the day if your beer is smelling and your bitter is frothy it still sounds like you have a bit of yeast left in the line and this is infecting the good beer when it is left standing in the line for any length of time. Try a different good cleaning solution, see if it improves.

  18. clampi2004
    31st May 2010 at 3:34 pm

    ok m8 i get it now just took over from other manager 2 months ago and been noticing stuff not right like dish washer cheaner was crap etc will try that. maybe she was trying to save money on cleaner, but think it was just a dodgey keg, new keg seems fine, still have to pull of a pint and a quarter a day but think thats just the distance from the cooler to the outlet.

    thnx btw for the speedy reply

  19. mrgeido
    9th June 2010 at 2:04 pm

    It will be worth checking that the remote cooler is full of water and the pump on top is working. It may be as simple as the beer left in the lines is warming up and the gas will break out. Beer coming from the cooler will be colder and will not fob.

    Withtout the remote cooler running water up the python , everytime you leave the beer to stand in the lines (i.e. between sessions or overnight) the CO2 in the beer will break out as it warms up. This will lead to 1-2 pints of Fob until the beer is replaced with beer from the cooler.

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