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What's "Flow Control" and Why is it Important?

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

After sharing a post about the Ball Lock Disconnect with Integrated Tap Shank, we've gotten several questions around what sort of taps it's compatible with. The short answer is use any tap that has built in flow control - like the NUKATAP Flow Control Stainless Steel Forward Sealing Tap (featured below).

This type of tap allows you to adjust the flow (using the lever on the side) so you can balance the pressure drop across the tap. This enables you to control how much head (foam) forms when pouring without having to change the pressure or temperature inside your keg.

Why do I need this?

When most folks start kegging (this happened to us too) they don’t realize the importance of balancing the pressure drop from their kegs to their taps. Usually, they cut the beer line too short so that their system looks tidy, however, when they pour their beer they end up with a pint that has way too much head.

They then try to fix this over foaming by reducing the pressure supplied by the regulator and relieving the pressure on their keg (often by pulling the keg's PRV ring), dropping it to the point where they can finally obtain that perfect pour. What they're doing (often without realizing) is balancing the pressure drop in the beer line through dropping the pressure in their keg.

Problem with this method is:

  • This leads to spending more money as you end up purging lots of CO₂ (and taking hop aromas with it each time in the process).

  • You have to remember to bump the regulator back up to the correct pressure at the end of each session. Forget, and the beer loses carbonation - after a couple sessions you end up with 'flat' beer.

Traditional keg systems like this rely on the flow restrictions created by the beer line to create the ideal pressure drop by the time the beer is poured. In the case of our example above, a significantly longer line is needed (but not so long that the pressure is restricted too much, resulting in a beer with no head at all – there are calculations that help determine the length, based on temperature, pressure, line type, and diameter).

The snag you come across in these set-ups is that you can have everything perfectly balanced for one beer, but as soon as you change the type of beer which needs a different pressure (or same pressure but served at a different temperature) the line length needs to be changed. The way to get around this is to control the flow (pressure drop) at the tap. Restricting or allowing more flow as needed easily compensates for these differences. The bonus is that these taps can restrict the flow to the point that barely any length of line is needed, and as such, they can work straight off the keg disconnect (if desired).

There are many great flow control taps out there. We decided to stock the FC NUKATAP as this model won us over with its:

  • Smaller thermal mass to reduce the 'first pour foam' caused by beer running through a warm tap

  • The seamless shuttle design reduces turbulence in the pour as well as being a sanitary design due to lack of available crevices to harbor solids

  • Long life, self-lubricating seals that are highly resistant to acids used in sanitization and cleaning

  • Its 2.5° reverse tap handle angle suits almost any tap handle

  • Its forward sealing design is optimal for beer quality and cleanliness

Whether you choose to use the NUKATAP we supply, or go with another, we highly recommend skipping any taps that don't have built in flow control. Use flow control, achieve that perfect pour with ease!

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