Photo 47077869 © Ermanno Iselle |
A typical scene in downtown Sturgis, SD, during the first week of August.

Rasmussen Mech. Keeps the Beer Cold in Sturgis

June 15, 2022
Radiant cooling application in the Oasis Bar keeps the customers happy while preventing waste.

STURGIS, SD — The Oasis Bar & Fireside Lounge has a prime location in downtown Sturgis (home to the famous motorcycle rally). The locally-owned venue offers a full bar, live music, karaoke, foosball and food.

Last Fall the Oasis Bar reached out to Rasmussen Mechanical Services with a problem. For every 18 oz. of beer that came out of the tap they would have to let 6 oz. (or 1/3 of their product) go down the drain.

The beer that sat in the lines between the cold keg and the tap was coming out warm and foamy and was eventually dumped down the drain until the cold beer was reached. Jason Carlson of Rasmussen Mechanical Services designed a solution that was able to reduce this waste by 32%!

Since 1970, Rasmussen Mechanical Services has a rich history of providing services and parts to commercial, industrial, and institutional clients throughout the central US. Today the company offers a wide variety of services to its customers, including burner services, boiler repair, mechanical construction, HVAC service and more.

"We came to the [Oasis] project because we know the owner from working on different projects of his," Jason Carlson explains. "He has always offered everyone working on his projects a free beer at the end of the work day while working for him. Naturally, this is not an offer any of us refuse while working for the owner! 

"While enjoying a free beer one day I watched the bartender pour quite of bit of beer from the tap down the drain.  I asked if this was normal, she stated that it is because the beer comes out of the tap warm and foamy for quite a while. Being the beer lover that I am I just couldn’t let this stand... I had the luxury of poking around and found that their beer cooling system was antiquated and did not work very well."

Carlson and the owner went back and forth on a few different designs to help alleviate the problem and settled on what was essentially a radiant cooling system, adding a small chiller system, new beer trunk lines, and a new tap wall. 

“We started by running pex piping next to the beer lines," Carlson says. "A small chiller, pump and thermostat were installed to pump chilled glycol and water through the pex lines which was set to 33 degrees. We then added insulation around both lines. We were able to run these lines all the way up to the back end of the tap so the entire beer line stayed chilled.” Rasmussen installed a CWA-3 chiller from BVL Controls. 

The challenge was the small space they had available. "The Ridgid ProPress tool was critical to getting this job done because of the tight corners we had to make with the chilled water lines in the tap tower," Carlson says.

Previously the Oasis had a simple four keg kegerator in the back storage room with about 10’ of exposed lines to the tap wall. These lines were insulated, but did not help keep the beer cold.

"Their walk in cooler was only about 15’ from where she
wanted to add this tap line, so I suggested we put the kegs in the walk in cooler instead of the old kegerator, add the chiller where the old kegerator sat, and the new lines from the walk in cooler to the tap wall," Carlson says. "I think the real trick here was that one of our techs took the actual beer tower apart and ran the chilled water lines all the way to the outlet of the beer taps. This ensures that nearly every drop of beer coming out of the tap is at 33 degrees."

As a result, the bar's waste has gone from 6 oz. of every 18 oz. wasted to about .25 oz. per 18 oz. wasted—a change from about 33% waste to almost 1% waste. The entire system, with the chiller, pump and thermostat should have a payback period of less than one year for the bar.

Of course, the real test of the system will be August, when the big rally returns and the streets of Sturgis will be crowded with thirsty bikers.

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