DON DIARIES: Improve your Brew by Investing in System Maintenance


Our newest series of Barons’ blogs will be coming to you right from the mouth of the man who sparked the initial passion for pints for Barons Beverage Services founders, Liam and Trent Baron – their dad and true industry legend, Don Baron. The DON Diaries will chronicle his time working in the beer industry for 34 years, heading up the Draught Quality Systems department at Swan Brewery. 

We’re kicking off our series by taking a little peek at one of the most essential parts of pouring the perfect pint – the maintenance of the system it came from.

Then vs. Now

Having a career in beer spanning over four decades, Don remembers the old days of beer dispensing using temprite or ice bank systems. We’ve come a long way since then, with the quality of dispense systems far exceeding what they once were. Venues are also increasing their taps and their product options to satisfy the higher demand for unique and varied beer choices. In the 80’s and 90’s, most venues would have a maximum of 2 beers on tap – either two “Supers” (full strength) or one “super” and one “mid” dominating the taps. With the emergence of craft beers and an investment in beer culture by the younger generations, Aussie venues these days can expect to hold thirty – fifty beer products on tap. 

With so many products on tap, beer line cleaning needs to happen more frequently, especially for your ‘slow movers’ which tend to cause the most grief at the rate they move through the lines. It’s a common misconception that lines that have beer moving through them less frequently don’t need to be cleaned as often – in fact, the opposite is true! Beer that sits in the lines for longer periods of time is much more susceptible to build-up and should be cleaned more regularly than the fast movers. But that doesn’t mean the faster movers don’t also need regular attention. 

A move to third-party maintenance and cleaning providers

Over the years, the first major shift that Don remembers was the decision to remove in-house cellarmen in an effort to cut costs. In the ’80s and ’90s, cellarmen were an integral part of each and every hotel. They were employed full-time and were responsible for all maintenance and cleaning duties as well as spearing the kegs if they needed to be changed. Over time, venues made this role redundant in favour of outsourcing beer maintenance tasks to save money. The same can be said about breweries. They reduced their service team to a point that the technicians could no longer provide an in-depth service.

As a result of this shift and a newfound desperation in the industry for local contractors to do the installation, servicing and troubleshooting, the opportunity for companies like Barons Beverage Services became obvious.

Our philosophy on maintenance 

At Barons, we adopt Don’s mentality about maintenance and servicing. Don likes to think of servicing and maintenance in the beer world as a fridge with a broken seal. If you don’t invest in repairing the seal or getting a new seal, you waste a lot of energy and power trying to keep the fridge cold, but you’re never going to win because ultimately, the seal is broken. Our mini legend, Liam, likes to use the example of a mining site with scheduled shutdowns. If they didn’t have them, they would end up with unplanned downtime which is where things get chaotic and ultimately, expensive. If you plan for maintenance and servicing, you are far less likely to experience extended periods of downtime and reduced turnover.

Why should you invest in regular system maintenance? 

The proof is in the proverbial pudding – by slightly increasing your regular operational expenses, you will reduce your capital expenditure. 

In many cases, the beer dispensing system is the heart of the business. The different products and the quality of the cold, crisp, golden liquid is what will keep patrons coming back over and over again. It goes without saying that your dispense system will also undoubtedly be a sizeable investment for the business, so regular proactive maintenance is an effective way of ensuring you’re protecting your assets. Systems that are neglected over time through sloppy cleaning schedules, use of incorrect equipment, lack of testing and regular maintenance will ultimately result in a poor product coming out of the tap. If you have poor product coming out of your taps, this ultimately eats at your bottom line. You only get one chance to make a good impression in many cases, so best you make sure it is one that has your patrons coming back for more!

Well, after that, we’re just glad we have someone like Don on board at Barons using his decades of experience to help our clients serve beer the way the brewer intended through his in-depth knowledge and passion for the perfect pour.

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