Know Your Beer Kegs

Beer aficionados will tell you, the home bartender, that while beer in cans is good, and beer in bottles is better, beer on tap is always best. So, if you want to serve the best at your home bar, you need to serve it on tap. And that means you need a beer tap dispenser, and you need to know the sizes of beer kegs that may or may not actually fit your dispenser.

While sometimes still found in steel, or even wood, today's kegs are generally made of aluminum, though some specialty types, as
discussed later on, may be as much or more plastic as aluminum. Keg sizes are described differently in different countries. As Niftyhomebar.com and our customers are US-based, we'll kept this discussion geared to US sizes.

A full US keg is also, and confusingly, the same as a 1/2-barrel, and holds 15.5 gallons (US gallons). So, a 1/2 keg, also, called a pony keg, is actually a quarter-barrel, or 7.75 gallons. A barrel holds 31 gallons, and as a keg can also be defined as a vessel smaller than a barrel, any such container under 30 gallons can properly be called a keg.

So, if you bring home a keg, which is 1/2 a barrel, and really need to know how many thirsty friends can partake of its contents, this is the skinny: A full keg (remember, that's 1/2 a
barrel) contains 58.67 liters, 103.25 Imperial pints, and 124 US pints. More importantly, that translates into 165 twelve fluid ounce glasses of the brew.

Most traditional beer tap dispensers, like the Keg-Or-Rater, and Danby, Avanti, etc. models shown in our Beer Keg Coolers and Dispensers
section, hold either a full keg (a 1/2 barrel, remember), or hold only a 1/2 keg (which would thus be a quarter-barrel). Generally, the "full tap" models, that hold a full keg (a 1/2 barrel) will also hold a smaller size as well.

New, counter-top type beer dispensers and similar products sometimes do not accommodate traditional kegs, and only specialty kegs usually produced specifically for the dispenser, must be purchased. Some, like the briefly popular and now hard-to-find BeerTender, use a specialty plastic keg that is lined with an aluminum bag, which contains 5 liters of beer.

This 5 liter size is the same as the "mini keg", a recent popular promotional development, where breweries produce a small keg that resembles an extra large beer can, labeled the same as their regular cans. As previously mentioned, the "pony keg" is a 1/4-barrel sized keg,
designed just like a larger keg, but containing only 82 12-ounce glasses of the brew, still enough for a casual get-together.


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