If only jockey boxes could clean themselves - what a wonderful world would that be! As we’re still waiting for some inventor to come up with a self-cleaning jockey box, the reality now is that we have to do it by ourselves.
It is impossible to underestimate the importance of proper jockey box cleaning and maintenance as it helps to:
- maintain the jockey box in proper condition and extend its service life thus saving money on repair and spare parts;
- preserve the fresh taste of your beverage every time you use the jockey box and prevent it from going bad;
- keep your beer flowing smoothly.
Ideally, you should clean your jockey box BEFORE and AFTER every use (more on that below) + understand the system components to be able to take your jockey box apart for cleaning and then put it back together nicely. Let’s do a quick overview of the jockey box components first.
Jockey Box Components & Parts
A typical jockey box setup would look like this (see the images below) with the main components being:
- CO2 gas tank/canister
- CO2 regulator (double-gauge)
- Air line
- Keg coupler (attaches to the keg)
- Beer line
- Shank coupling
- Jockey box itself (with a stainless steel cooling coil inside)
- Steel shank (connects the jockey box to the faucet)
- Chrome faucet with a tap handle.
The way it all works together is pretty simple: the beer line from the keg comes in through a shank at the back of the jockey box, runs through the coils inside, and then comes out through another shank, which is attached to the draft beer faucet.
Now that we have all these elements in place and waiting to be cleaned, it’s time to bring in the cleaning tools.
Instruments Needed to Clean a Mobile Cooler & Dispenser
For our, beer enthusiasts’ convenience, these instruments usually come in a cleaning kit consisting of:
- Cleaning can
- Stainless steel or plastic cap for cleaning bottle
- Cleaning valve
- Beer line cleaner
- Faucet wrench
Jockey Box Cleaning Instructions
First of all, there are two types of cleaning - prior to use and after use (ideally, immediately after use).
For the prior-to-use cleaning, use a flush-out hose to remove any residue or mold that might have built up inside the lines since the last time you used the jockey box. That should do it.
Cleaning your jockey box cooler after you have used it is a simple, four-step process that should take you no more than 15 minutes. All you’re going to need is a jockey box cleaning kit we mentioned earlier and a bit of patience.
- Flush out all the remaining beer out of the system using the beer line cleaner (should be done right after you’ve finished using the jockey box)
- Remove the faucets using the wrench and clean them
- Rinse the whole system with plenty of water
- If the interior of the cooler gets soiled clean the outside of the stainless steel coils with a mild soap. Rinse with clean water and wipe dry. Do the same thing with the exterior of the cooler if needed.
To prevent any remaining rinse water from freezing up next time you use the jockey box, it might be necessary to run a small amount of beer through the dispensing system before adding ice.
- store the jockey box cooler dry and cap the shank(s) if you’re not intending to use the box for an extended period of time;
- never use any soap or cleaners containing chlorine, bleaches or mineral acids to avoid damaging the insides of the coils. Use only approved beer line cleaner
- at the end of every event immediately blow out the lines using an empty cleaning can or stainless steel flusher attachment
Since it is nearly impossible to remove the mold and biofilms that can occur from storing away a jockey box that still has beer left inside the coils, we strongly recommend rinsing and cleaning the coils after every use.
Jockey Box Coil Cleaning Solution Recommended by Beverage Craft
Choosing the right beer line cleaning solution for cleaning your beer dispensing system is very important.
First of all, there are quite a few varieties available - each designed to be used in a specific way depending on the beer line cleaning solution ingredients. Second, there are different brands at different prices. Finally, there are other beer cleaning products apart from beer line cleaner like drain cleaner strips.
Since BeverageCraft specializes in all things beer so it’s no surprise that we offer an extensive lineup of beer line cleaning products to suit the needs of any beer enthusiast.
✓ Beer line cleaners:
- Super no-rinse, chlorine-free (for direct draw systems, tap boxes, and other short-run systems)
- PLC cleaner (fast-dissolving powder for draft beer systems, which includes a colored rine indicator that lets you see when the cleaning is complete)
- Craft Meister Oxygen Brewery Wash (leaves no chalky residue or film)
- BLC beer line cleaner (for direct draw systems, you need only ½ oz of the product per quart of water)
✓ Drain cleaner strips - great for beer bars, prevent drain overflows due to bacteria and slime build-up. Also, helps to control the foul-smelling odor caused by mildew and fungi
We recommend using Super No-Rinse jockey box cleaning solution as the most universal and cost-effective option.
How Often to Clean a Jockey Box
First and foremost, you should never allow any beer to remain inside the coils for more than 24 hours after you used a jockey box, which essentially means jockey boxes should be cleaned after every use.
When your jockey box is not in everyday use, it still might be a good idea to clean the faucets regularly between the events taking the faucets apart and scrubbing any biofilms with a faucet brush.
Why is it all so important? Well, cleaning your jockey box on a regular basis is good for a number of reasons:
- helps to preserve the natural, fresh taste of beer at all times
- allows you to address the health concerns of your party companions and ensure their safety
- keeps your beer lines free of any bacteria, yeast or mold that might have built up there
The cleaning process does not take a lot of time or effort and, therefore, should be done after every use. This will ensure the best possible beer quality and freshness.