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> Vent-Matic vs Perlick Comparison, Contributed by gpflepsen
cj in j
post Oct 17 2005, 07:13 PM
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Vent-Matic Ultraflow Faucet vs Perlick Comparison FAQ
Contributed by gpflepsen

A few weeks ago, after watching a neighbor snap a valve stem on his stuck faucet, I succumbed to the desire for a seat forward faucet. I decided upon the Perlick, mostly in consideration of the price. I had read many comparisons of Perlick and Vent-Matic with the consensus being they were equal faucets able to do the job of dispensing beer negating the stuck faucet syndrome.

I found out Perlick and Vent-Matic are not equal and do not perform the same. My first symptom was a foamy pour immediately upon replacing my old rear seal with a Perlick. Satisfaction was not had. Some additional research lead to finding others who suddenly discovered a foamy pour with the Perlick.

I decided to call Vent-Matic to explore their faucets. I ordered two of the new design Ultraflow faucets. This was an eye-opening experience.

Initial Impressions
Perlick: I noticed a seemingly well-made faucet. I did note its difficulty in mating with the splines of my shacks. Out of 5 Perlick faucets on my two shanks, two wobbled, two were very tight and one was impossible to mount. The splines in the Perlick are cast leaving a rough and somewhat unrefined finish.
Vent-Matic: Also appears to be a well made faucet. The splines are clean and sharp. These fall all the way onto my shanks. The nozzle is a larger O.D. and I.D. The exterior is almost mirror finished with laser etched printing. Gone are the embossed Vent-Matic letters. Present is a tab to facilitate a faucet lock.

Here are the faucets side by side.
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Faucet Nozzles
The nozzles are noticeably different. The Perlick is markedly smaller than the Vent-Matic’s. I measured the Perlicks at 3/8” or about 9.5 mm. The standard Ultraflow faucet is about 11 mm. I also ordered an additional larger nozzle, 12.5 mm.
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This is looking into the base of the faucets. Notice the larger diameter bore in the Ultraflow and the larger shuttle valve. Note the step between the Perlick’s splines and bore. Also note how defined the splines are in the Vent-Matic. They are fully machined resulting in greater accuracy than the Perlick’s splines.

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Interior Finish
I took both faucets apart directing my attention to the finish of the interior passages.

Perlick: Note the crazing on the bore’s passageway and valve seal area.
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Vent-Matic: Here, note the splines and bore surface.
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Here are views inside the outlet, where the nozzle screws into the faucet.

Perlick: Note the finish of the interior passageway. The seal ring resides in a machined groove.
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Vent-Matic: I saw smoother machining inside. The seal ring is on the nozzle.

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Shuttle Valves
The relative size of the shuttles is apparent. The seal for the Perlick is an o-ring of circular cross section. The seal ring for the Vent-Matic is of a triangular cross section. The Perlick seal diameter is smaller than the Vent-Matic’s. The larger sealed area will give the Vent-Matic a more positive and tighter seal. The force of the pressurized liquid behind the valve pushes more on the Vent-Matic seal.
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Valve Stems
The stems seem to be very similar in design. They both seem to throw the shuttle a similar distance. The Perlick stem is indexed to the shuttle and the Vent-Matic’s stem is not. This means the handle can spin and is not held to a certain orientation. Vent-Matic offers a stem that will not rotate in the faucet. I don’t use handles so I can’t judge the merits of this difference.

The seal rings in the Perlick are not typical o-rings. The seal in the body of the faucet is a double ridge type and would require a pick to remove. The seal above the ball joint is a flat rubber washer.

The seals in the Vent-Matic appear to be ordinary o-rings, though it is my understanding they are made of a low wear long life material. They fall out of the faucet and are not retained in any grooves.
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To put it shortly, the Perlicks I received foamed and the Vent-Matic didn't. I was pouring a hefe at 15 psi.

The reasons:

1) The Perlick's nozzle is too small for pouring highly carbonating beers. The beer comes out with too high a velocity. The velocity into the glass causes foam. Lower CO2 ales (like British styles) can be poured like this because of their lesser volatility (CO2 wanting to come out of solution). It actually takes a rougher pour to get these beers to do a head.

2) Valve body turbulence. I can take both the Perlick and the Ventmatic and blow through them. You can tell by the sound and feel the Perlick is more turbulent.

It comes down to having a system tuned for good performance. I think an Ultraflow faucet is important because it gives you the best in construction and the ability to interchange nozzles based of beer types being poured. This is only a start, enough restriction needs to be between the keg and faucet to give pour rates that will result in little to no foaming. I'm sure the Perlicks can handle a hefe, but the amount of restriction to make them work will have to be more than a Vent-Matic.
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