Making Balanced Picnic Taps

When I originally made my keezer, I added two Perlick faucets to it, and dreamed about serving my homebrew with them. As it turns out, I actually really like just having a picnic tap (or cobra tap) on my kegs. I’m not really sure why. They’re plastic and kind of cheap feeling… but it kind of takes me back to the days of having a party in the back yard and serving beer with one of them. Anyway, I like picnic taps. They’re easy to use and easy to clean.

IMG_0928You can buy a pre-made liquid line for your keg (shown in the picture on the right) with a picnic tap, 6 feet of liquid line, and an FFL nut to attach to a disconnect. Sounds perfect right? The problem is that they are not balanced. Even at 3-4 PSI, the beer flies out of them like I turned on the garden hose, and it’s usually really foamy. That means that I have to turn down the PSI to serve, then turn it back up to not lose carbonation. In a normal kegging setup, you would balance it with a certain length of liquid line, so that you could keep your beer at 7-9 PSI depending on your desired carbonation level, and then the beer would flow slowly out the tap without excessive foam. The longer the liquid line, the slower the beer flows, and less resulting foam is created.

So I decided to make my own. I’ve had a lot of luck with 10′ liquid lines. The pour is just the right speed at 7-9 PSI, and I’ve never had foaming problems. So I started with the following parts:

  • IMG_090310′ of 3/16″ ID bevlex tubing
  • 1 picnic tap
  • 1  1/4″ by 1/4″ FFL barb
  • 1  1/4″ flare washer
  • 1 clamp

IMG_0909  IMG_0910  IMG_0913

Take the tubing and put one end in some really hot water. Let it sit in there for about 30 seconds. Then you can slide it easily onto the picnic tap barb. Next, put the other end of the tubing in the same hot water and let it sit for 30 seconds. Slide a clamp over the tubing first, then put the FFL barb into it. One trick for getting the barb into the tubing is to screw the FFL nut onto a disconnect before you do this. Next, tighten the clamp around the barb and you’re all set. Now you have an easy-to-use picnic tab that’s balanced and won’t foam.

IMG_0904You can actually take apart the stock liquid line taps, but the clamp around the FFL barb is very hard to get off. The picture to the right (click to enlarge) shows the clamp after I wrestled with it for 15 minutes. I had to use large pliers and work it back and forth for a while until it popped, then it twisted off easily. At that point, you’re just replacing the tubing with longer tubing. This is a great option if you already have these, but want to balance them.



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One Response to Making Balanced Picnic Taps

  1. Tony Copeland says:

    If you are stuck with a short line pinic tap, raise the pint as high as possible (ie up in the air) when you pour. This will add a little resistance and may help reduce foaming.

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