There are three types of beer pump used to get beer into a glass. There are specific situations that require a pump to deliver the beer rather than compressed, bottled gas like CO2.
1. Beer Engine – (synonym: hand pump) – is the device used to pump beer from a cask or keg to the service portion of a pub or bar. The beer engine is manually operated and uses suction to deliver unpressurized real ale or cask conditioned ales. The engine itself is mounted just below the bar top and the pump handle extends above the bar, providing an advertisement for the beer being served.
The pump method of serving is necessary for traditional real ale in order to maintain its natural level of carbonation and only its natural carbonation. Real ale should never be served with compressed gas that would add unwanted carbonation to the cask or keg.
2. In-line beer pump - this is a device used in commercial locations that have very long beer line runs from the keg to the faucet. Due to the flow resistance applied by the long beer line, the beer needs an assist to get to the faucet. They are used mostly in situations where the applied gas pressure would need to exceed the limits of the hoses and clamps and that high pressure would over carbonate the beer as well.
These beer pumps use pressurized gas to run but that gas is not in contact with the beer.
3. Party Pump or Picnic Pump - This third type of pump is the most commonly used. It is the standard hand pump that pressurizes a keg at a party or other function. These pumps use atmospheric air to push the beer out of the keg. This is the simplest method to serve draft beer but it has two major drawbacks: using air pressure will allow the beer to go flat over time; and adding air to the keg will promote spoilage of the beer due to oxidation and the introduction of microbes.
If you are using a party pump make sure you use up the beer in a day because it will be spoiled in two days. Consider downsizing your keg choice to sixth or quarter keg to help avoid wasting beer.
The party pump assembly comes complete with a hose and faucet to dispense the beer. There are a number of configurations for the pumps and there are even multi-hose assemblies that allow for pouring several beers at once from the same keg.
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