Opinion

What cellar management tips can help reopened pubs save money?

By Jeff Singer, Beer Piper

- Last updated on GMT

Cost cutting: a recent study by Beer Piper found the average pub wastes 20 pints a week with inefficient line cleaning
Cost cutting: a recent study by Beer Piper found the average pub wastes 20 pints a week with inefficient line cleaning

Related tags: Cellar, Beer, Public house, Cellar management

With Britain’s pub and bar industry still riding out the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s natural that operators and bar managers will be looking at ways to operate as efficiently as possible when they open again.

Trouble-shooting some classic money wasting areas behind the scenes can ensure that publicans can run cellars efficiently and smoothly - and make some meaty long-term cost savings when their establishment resumes trading from Saturday 4 July.

Keep coolers maintained 

Coolers are an integral part of the cellar, but if not properly maintained the heat produced by these machines can increase running costs substantially. 

Firstly, if the space is available, move all remote coolers – and any other cooling or refrigeration units – outside the beer cellar as they emit heat from their condenser systems.  

Did you know that a freezer located in your beer cellar can increase your cellar cooling costs by over £100 a year?

Additionally, ensure they are situated away from other equipment and kept clean. When a remote cooler is installed it should be sited with plenty of space around it. The space is there for a reason – to enable air to circulate around the unit. Half covering the grills on the side means half the cooling capacity.

What's more, always keep the cooling grills on the outside of units free from dust and dirt. A single typical remote cooler costs approximately £500 a year to run, so it’s crucial they are kept in good condition and run properly or they could end up costing more. 

Check fans​ 

Cellar cooling systems should always be turned on and the cellar fan should run continuously, but this can be quite costly as typical running costs for an average pub are around £1,500 a year.

Most systems remove the heat in the cellar to a fan outside the cellar (usually on an outside wall). The grill on these often can also become blocked due to lack of maintenance.

To avoid costly replacements or increased running costs, it is advisable that publicans periodically check that the fan blades and grills on both indoor and outdoor units are clean and not blocked, as blocked grills can increase running costs by up to 40%. 

Give refrigeration systems the once-over ​ 

Checking refrigeration equipment is working as efficiently as possible is a sensible move. 

Make sure all pipe work circuits are kept as short as possible and that the condensing unit is in a well-ventilated location. Try to place cooling system temperature sensors at barrel height and away from the evaporator. 

Set cooling system controls to the recommended cellar temperature, usually between 11°C and 13°C. Use a thermometer to regularly check this temperature is maintained, as overcooling the cellar by as little as 1°C can increase cellar energy costs by up to 10%. 

Regularly clean evaporators and heat rejection coils to allow free airflow – that way they’ll run more economically. Lastly, ensure the equipment is properly and regularly maintained by a professional so that it operates efficiently.

Insulate

To ensure a cellar works well, and all equipment works efficiently, consider insulation needs. 

Operators may need to install thermal insulation PVC strip curtains and draught stripping. If heating pipes have to pass through cellars, the pipes and fittings should all be insulated and draught stripping should be applied in places where pipes pass through walls.

Additionally, beer cellar doors and hatches should also be draught-proofed and insulated. 

Shut the door​ 

If cellar doors are left open, cold air escapes and warm air enters. This can cause excess frost on the evaporators that the defrost mechanisms cannot cope with, and if this happens, manual defrosts may be required which involves switching machinery off for 24 hours.

Keep cellar doors closed as much as possible and – in larger cellars that also store your bottle stocks – separate the keg/cask beers from the packaged beers, spirits and minerals (providing the indoor unit is on the draught beer side of the cellar) with a PVC door strip curtain, as this will reduce the size of the cubic space to be chilled.

Consider some easy wins for heat reduction ​ 

To further reduce heat in the cellar, try to locate any heat-producing equipment such as line python coolers for beer and soft drinks, cooling cabinets and icemakers outside the cellar in a well-ventilated area.

Lastly, replace standard tungsten bulbs with LED or fluorescent strip lighting, and turn off lighting whenever possible to avoid excess heat production.

Reduce beer waste 

It may sound like something that wouldn’t particularly contribute to behind the scenes cost savings, but installing high tech, automated beer line cleaning systems instead of cleaning lines manually will save a lot of money, a lot of time (or staff hours) and – more importantly for cost saving – will reduce waste. 

A recent study by Beer Piper found the average pub wastes 20 pints a week with inefficient line cleaning, costing them £74 – and 40m pints are thrown away each year needlessly – a collective cost of £147m. 

On top of all the savings made regarding beer waste, clean beer lines mean that you’ll pull a good pint every time, ensuring that your punters come back for more.

Related topics: Beer

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