The Different Types of Kegs

Simply put people love beer!  You love to try new types of beer, you love hanging out with friends while drinking beer or maybe even brewing your own, so you decide the next step is finally buying a kegerator.   The big question is what type of kegerator do you want, but before you choose your new beer dispenser you should know what types of kegs are out there. Did you know there are six different types of kegs?  Here is a quick guide to help you on your way to becoming a Master Cicerone (an expert on beer).

Mini Keg (5 Liters)

The mini keg, nicknamed “Bubba,” is a 5 liter keg.  This keg is produced for retail sales and you can only purchase specific beers, which limits your choices.  There are more and more labels popping up to make mini kegs, some of the  beer companies currently are Heineken, New Castle,  Beck’s, Coors and Miller Light to name a few. This is a great keg size for small apartments or if you want the party to become portable.

A mini kegerator will hold and dispense your beer all from your kitchen counter top, so you don’t need to worry about having much space if you decide to go the mini keg route. A mini keg is equal to about 10.6 pints, so enough beer for a small get-together or a few people.

Cornelius Keg (18.9 Liters)

The Cornelius Keg has a few nicknames “Corny Keg,” “Pepsi Keg” and “Home Brew Keg.”  The origin of this type of keg is it was originally used by the soft drink industry and can be used to store and dispense homemade sodas and home-brewed beer. There are also two varieties of connectors which attach to the ports: pin-lock and ball-lock which is useful to know since they are not interchangeable. Historically, pin-lock kegs were used primarily by the Coca-Cola company, while ball-lock kegs were used primarily by Pepsi.

The most common use nowadays of the corny keg is for home brewing as opposed to bottling the beer.  They are easier to fill and maintain and are preferred over bottling for conditioning purposes.  Another common use for this keg is it’s also good for micro-brewing.

Sixth Barrel (19.8 Liters)

The Sixth Barrel is sometimes referred to as “Sixtel,” “Log” and “Torpedo.”  This is not a widely used keg as it is mostly used for breweries when they want to use a smaller keg than a half barrel.  The sixth barrel is typically the same size as the Cornelius.  This size lends itself to be a great choice for retailers with a small space but want to showcase a large variety.  Common uses for these kegs are for home brews and micro brews, but these you can also use with a dual tap kegerator which is good to keep in mind.  This keg functions identical to its full size counterpart.

A sixtel is equal to about 42 pints of beer and only weighs around 58 pounds when full, so a great alternative to a half barrel keg for a party.

Quarter Barrel Keg (29.3 Liters)

The Quarter Barrel also goes by “Pony Keg” and “Stubby Quarter.”  The name simply comes from it being a quarter of a barrel and is half the size of a standard beer keg (called a half barrel).

The size allows it to be moved easily but you do need to do all the same setup as a large keg.  You need to provide a deposit when purchased from a store and will need to get a tap to serve.  This keg is great for small parties or watching the game with a group of friends. Pony kegs typically hold about 62 pints of beer.

Slim Quarter (29.3 Liters)

The Slim Quarter is also known as “Slim ¼” and “Tall Quarter.”  The name says it all, this keg is the exact capacity as the quarter but just slim.  The difference between the slim and the regular quarter is not just the shape but the slim can be used with a dual tap kegerator.  That means not only is it smaller and easier to maneuver like the quarter but more versatile and can be used with a dual tap application.  This is not a keg that is as widely known though, so most people use a sixth barrel keg or a corny keg when setting up a dual tap system.

When full, the slim quarter weighs around 87 pounds – same as the pony keg.

Half Barrel (58.7 Liters)

Simply put, this is the “Full Size” keg.  This is the mostly commonly known type of keg and is basically a great party waiting to happen.  You’ve probably seen this keg at parties and for large functions. If you’ve been to a frat party once in your life, this was the large wonderful barrel dispensing your beer perhaps propped in a garbage can filled with ice.

For home bars and nicer functions than a frat party, this can be used with a home kegerator.  While a half barrel is a lot of beer (around 124 pints), when used with a kegerator, it can keep the beer fresh for up to a few months. This will only work with a Co2 dispensing system though, not an air pump, as the air will cause the beer to eventually go flat after a day or two.

Here is a helpful chart for a quick comparison of all of the kegs. Happy and safe drinking!

Keg Comparison Chart:


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