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While individual beer bottles and cans are convenient for personal consumption, there are times when serving beer in larger quantities becomes more practical and cost-effective. This is where kegs come into the picture for larger events. Yet, if you want to rent or buy a keg for home brewing, there is a pertinent question to consider: “How much does a keg of beer cost?” There is no single answer for this, however, as kegs come in a variety of sizes and hold more than just one kind of beer.
So, let’s take a look at those factors affecting the price and details on different keg sizes.
Table of Contents
- What is a Beer Keg?
- Factors Affecting the Cost of Kegs
- How Much Does a Keg of Beer Cost?
- What is the Cost of a Keg By Brand?
- Should You Buy a Keg or Cans or Bottles for Your Event?
- Now You Know The Cost of a Keg
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Beer Keg?
First off, it’s time to introduce beer kegs. Sure, you may know a thing or two about kegs, but having some insight can better help you choose the right keg for the occasion. A beer keg is a container specifically designed to hold and dispense beer. It is a convenient vessel that can store and distribute beer without it going bad. In its simplest form, a beer keg is a cylindrical vessel made of either stainless steel or, less commonly, aluminum. It is sturdy, durable, and designed to withstand the pressures exerted by carbonated beer. Kegs come in different sizes to accommodate varying needs and serving volumes.
You can learn more about how kegs work with this video:
The most common keg sizes include the half-barrel, quarter-barrel, and sixth-barrel kegs. A half-barrel keg, also known as a full-size keg, typically holds around 15.5 gallons (58.7 liters) of beer. It is the standard size used in commercial settings. The quarter-barrel keg, also known as a pony keg, holds approximately 7.75 gallons (29.3 liters) of beer, while the sixth-barrel keg, also called a sixtel, holds around 5.16 gallons (19.5 liters).
Beer kegs also provide advantages aside from convenience. They reduce packaging waste, are more cost-effective for serving larger groups, and allow for efficient storage and transportation. Additionally, kegs enable the enjoyment of draft beer, known for its freshness and superior taste due to its lack of exposure to light and minimal oxidation.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Kegs
Like any other product on the market, there are various sizes of beer kegs. Each holds a specific volume of beer to suit a specific use. Some kegs go to restaurants. Others are used at home for storing beer. Some are rented out for weddings or festivals. Some kegs are so heavy that special equipment is required for moving them even short distances, while your typical mini keg can be carried out of the house and put into the car. So, how much is a keg? As you can imagine, the aforementioned factors, along with the ones below, will influence how much you need to pay.
Let’s take a closer look at what affects the cost of kegs:
The size of the keg is a significant determinant of its cost. Different keg sizes, such as half-barrel, quarter-barrel, sixth-barrel, and mini kegs, have varying production costs and material requirements. Larger kegs generally have higher prices due to their increased capacity, as well as their weight.
Brand and Beer Type
Another factor affecting the overall cost of the keg is the brand and type of beer. Well-known and established beer brands often command higher prices due to factors such as brand reputation, marketing costs, and demand. Specialty or craft beers, which may involve unique ingredients or brewing techniques, tend to have higher prices compared to mainstream commercial beers.
Production and Quality
One of the biggest factors affecting the cost of the keg is the quality of the beer and its production. For instance, the choice of ingredients used in brewing can significantly affect the cost of a keg. High-quality malt, hops, yeast, and specialty ingredients often come at a higher price. Brewers may opt for premium ingredients to enhance the flavor, aroma, and overall quality of the beer. Using specialty or unique ingredients, such as rare hops or barrel-aged adjuncts, can further elevate the cost.
You also have to account for brewing processes, including labor-intensive steps, like barrel aging, resources, equipment. Any specialty brews focus on producing new, innovative beers and usually involved experimental ingredients, intricate brewing techniques, and limited production runs. The production costs associated with crafting these specialized beers are generally higher, leading to increased keg prices compared to more mainstream commercial beers.
Rental Deposits and Costs
If you aren’t buying a keg but instead renting one for an event, you are going to need to put down a deposit and also pay for using the keg for a specific period. The rental deposit for a keg can range from $30 to $100 or more, depending on the keg size, material, and rental policies. For example, a deposit for a standard half-barrel keg might fall within the range of $50 to $100. Meanwhile, the general estimates for renting a keg are as follows:
- Half-barrel keg: $50-$150
- Quarter-barrel keg: $40-$100
- Sixth-barrel keg: $30-$80
- Mini keg: $20-$50
Taxes and Regulation
Beer is subject to taxes and regulations imposed by local and national governments. These taxes can vary significantly depending on the region, impacting the price of a keg.
Packaging and Equipment
Kegs require specific packaging materials and equipment for their production, transportation, dispensing, cleaning, and maintenance. These additional costs, such as stainless steel kegs, keg shells, valves, and couplers, are factored into the overall price. Now, some kegs are not going to come with these things, particularly the ones that you are buying for at-home use.
Transportation and Distribution
The costs associated with transporting kegs from breweries to retailers or directly to consumers can influence their price. Factors such as distance, fuel costs, handling, storage, and logistics contribute to the overall cost of kegs.
As you may have guessed, supply and demand will play into the cost of the keg you hope to purchase. Popular brands or limited edition beers are certainly going to have a higher demand, as such, they are going to be more expensive.
How Much Does a Keg of Beer Cost?
Let’s take a look at some of the popular keg sizes and how much those kegs commonly cost:
|Keg Size||Volume||Average Price|
|Mini Keg||1.3 gallon (5 L)||$20-$50|
|Corny Keg||5.0 gallon (18.9 L)||$70-$100|
|Sixth Barrel||5.2 gallon (20 L)||$70-$120|
|Quarter Barrel||7.7 gallon (29 L)||$100-$150|
|European Standard||13.2 gallon (50 L)||$150-$200|
|Half Barrel||15.5 gallon (58.7 L)||$200|
Here is some more detail on each keg by size and volume:
The half-barrel keg, also known as the standard keg, is the most common keg size used in the beer industry. Here are the key details:
- Volume: A half-barrel keg typically holds approximately 15.5 gallons or 58.7 liters of beer.
- Servings: With an average serving size of 12 ounces (355 ml), a half-barrel keg can provide around 165 servings.
- Price Range: The cost of a half-barrel keg can vary between $100 and $250 USD, depending on the brand, type of beer, and location.
Quarter-Barrel Keg (Pony Keg)
The quarter-barrel is smaller than the standard keg and is also popular.
- Volume: A quarter-barrel keg contains approximately 7.75 gallons or 29.3 liters of beer.
- Servings: Based on the standard 12-ounce (355 ml) serving size, a pony keg can yield around 82 servings.
- Price Range: The cost of a quarter-barrel keg typically falls within the range of $100 to $150 USD, depending on various factors such as beer type and brand.
The sixth-barrel keg, also known as a sixtel, is a smaller keg size frequently used by craft breweries and for home kegerators.
- Volume: A sixth-barrel keg typically holds approximately 5.16 gallons or 19.5 liters of beer.
- Servings: With a 12-ounce (355 ml) serving size, a sixtel can provide around 55 servings.
- Price Range: The cost of a sixth-barrel keg generally falls between $70 and $120 USD, depending on factors such as the beer brand and type.
Also known as corny kegs, these are also common in homes:
- Volume: These homebrew kegs are either 2.5-gallons, 3-gallons, and 5-gallons.
- Servings: The serving size from a Cornelius keg can vary depending on the size of the keg and the desired serving size. Usually, you will get between 21 to 41 servings.
- Price Range: Cornelius kegs are often between $40 (refurbished) and $100. It depends on the brands.
Compact and convenient, mini kegs are a wonderful option for home brewers who want to do small batch brewing.
- Volume: Mini kegs come in various sizes, typically ranging from 1.32 to 2.64 gallons or 5 to 10 liters.
- Servings: The number of servings depends on the specific size of the mini keg and serving size. It can vary widely.
- Price Range: Mini kegs are more affordable compared to larger kegs, with prices typically ranging from $20 to $60 USD.
What is the Cost of a Keg By Brand?
Now that you have seen the general price range, let’s look at how the brand affects your wallet:
(Note that this price is for a sixtel keg and excludes taxes and extra fees, such as the rental deposit and accessories.)
|Beer Brand||Average Price|
|Samuel Adams Boston Lager||$100|
|Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA||$110|
|Blue Moon Belgian White||$120|
Should You Buy a Keg or Cans or Bottles for Your Event?
You can a general answer to the question, “How much is a keg?” It’s pricey, that’s what. Thus, your next question probably is, “Is getting a keg worth it? Can I fit it in the event budget?” Ultimately, that decision is up to you. You could potentially purchase enough bottles or cans for your beer-drinking buddies. Both kegs and individual servings have their advantages. To help you make an informed decision, here are some factors to consider when deciding between getting cans or a keg:
The Number of Guests
If you’re expecting a large number of guests or hosting a sizable event, a keg might be a more practical choice. Kegs generally hold a significant volume of beer, making it easier to serve a large group without the need for frequent restocking.
On the other hand, smaller groups may benefit from bottles and cans, especially if you know the people in the party are not going to drink more than 1-2 servings of beer.
Financial considerations can play a role in your decision. In some cases, buying beer cans individually might be more cost-effective, especially if you have a smaller gathering. However, if you’re hosting a larger event, purchasing a keg could be more economical, as the cost per serving can be lower compared to buying individual cans.
For example, for a small intimate gathering of 10-20 people, you could purchase a sixth-barrel keg for $50-$120, depending on your location. These keg sizes can provide around 40-60 servings (12 oz servings) of beer. When you do the arithmetic, a standard six-pack of beer costs around $6.00. A six-pack of craft beer may cost a little more, around $8-$10. In other words, you end up paying around the same, but instead of tackling several bundles of loose bottles or cans, you only have a single keg to worry about.
Another aspect to consider is convenience. With beer cans, guests can serve themselves easily without the need for additional equipment or setup. On the other hand, kegs require a tap system and cups for dispensing, which might require more effort in terms of setup and maintenance.
Freshness and Quality
Kegs can provide a fresher and higher-quality beer experience compared to cans, especially if you enjoy the taste and texture of draft beer. Kegs minimize exposure to light and air, which can negatively impact the beer’s flavor. Cans, however, can still maintain the beer’s freshness, particularly if they are stored properly.
If you want to offer a wide selection of beer styles or brands, cans may be a better choice. With cans, you can easily provide a range of options to cater to different tastes and preferences. Kegs typically offer a single type of beer unless you opt for multiple kegs with different brews.
Cleanup and Waste
Consider the cleanup process and waste management. Cans are convenient in terms of disposal as they can be easily collected and recycled. Kegs, on the other hand, require proper return or pickup arrangements, and the associated cups and equipment might generate more waste.
Atmosphere and Presentation
The atmosphere and presentation of your party can also influence your decision. Kegs can create a more interactive and social experience, as guests can gather around the tap and pour their own drinks. It can add a fun and communal element to the event. On the contrary, cans offer a simpler and more straightforward approach.
Now You Know The Cost of a Keg
How much is a keg? It depends on the size and what the keg is holding. Some kegs may only be around $50, while others are going to set you back by $150-$200. If you want to rent a keg for an event or buy one for your home, be sure to factor this cost into your budget! Looking for more information on keg sizes? Check out our article “The Ultimate Guide to Keg Sizes” to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
The cost-effectiveness of buying cans of beer versus a keg depends on several factors. Usually, purchasing a keg can be more cost-effective when serving a large number of people, such as at parties or events. The price per serving is often lower when buying a keg compared to buying individual cans or bottles. However, if you have a small gathering or prefer a variety of beer options, buying cans or bottles may be more practical.
Here’s a general breakdown of the price ranges for different keg sizes: Half-Barrel Keg (Standard Keg): $100 to $200 USD; Quarter-Barrel Keg (Pony Keg): $60 to $120 USD; Sixth-Barrel Keg (Sixtel): $50 to $100 USD; Mini Keg: $20 to $60 USD.
There are several factors contributing to the expensive cost of kegs: Production costs, including ingredients, brewing processes, quality control, and packaging. There is also distribution and transportation, taxes, beer types, and equipment being used when dispensing, cleaning, and maintaining the brewery. The cost of all these things impact the overall price you are paying when getting a keg.
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