A glycol system is needed when you have a beer tap that is connected to kegs or storage containers with any length of hose. The glycol is compressed so that it becomes cool and is then circulated in a tube that sits next to the hoses that dispense the beer, keeping the beer cool as it travels from the keg to the tap. Without a glycol system, your tap beer can actually be lukewarm by the time it arrives, even if the kegs are only a few feet or meters away. Note a few important tips for using a glycol system in your restaurant so you know it's always operating properly.
Never mix glycol brands
Different brands or types of glycol may not actually mix, and one will break down the chemical properties of another. This can cause a gel or cloudy residue to form in the glycol itself, which might clog the filters of the system. When glycol breaks down, it also fails to become cool. If you do need to start using another brand or type of glycol for any reason, have a complete flush of the reservoir and hoses first, and then fill the system with your new choice.
Never use car antifreeze or air conditioning refrigerant
First, note that the glycol you use in your restaurant needs to be food grade and food safe. Even though the glycol is contained and not meant to actually come into contact with your beer, any type of damage to the system can allow the glycol to leak. If you're not using food grade glycol, you may actually need to dispose of your kegs and hoses rather than just flushing them out.
Also, note that other forms of antifreeze may not be compatible with glycol systems meant for restaurants. The glycol hoses might get damaged by other forms of coolant, and they may also clog the system's filters.
Always check local regulations
Even if you use food grade glycol, note that there are often local regulations about the type of glycol you can use for a restaurant and how it's disposed of after it's broken down or frozen over. These regulations might change over time, just like any other, so you need to ensure you're always compliant. A restaurant inspector may check the type of glycol you use, and you may face a fine or even a shutdown if you aren't using the right type of glycol, or if you aren't disposing of it properly.