If you’re curious about what is a keg then this article is for you, we go through everything you need to know about this classic way of storing beverages.
Throughout the many the years’ that kegs have been around there has been a transformation in just not what they’re made out of but also what they store.
Traditionally you would have found that pretty much every keg was made of wood with their purpose to store and safely transport a variety of materials such as gunpowder, nails, grains and of course liquids.
In more modern times you will find the purpose of a keg is to pretty much just store liquid. This stored liquid includes both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. They are most commonly made out of a steel or aluminum and have been designed to take a fair beating making them a reliable transportation vessel.
There was also a period when kegs were hugely in use by the soda industry. Instead, soda companies use the bag in a box method now. This method is a fair bit cheaper than the aluminum kegs they use to use. Most of the kegs that were used by the soda industry are still in use by many avid home brewers. This variety of keg is called the corny keg or also known as the soda keg.
You will find that a lot of defunct kegs have also been converted into useful items around the house such as BBQs, pot plant holders and much more. There are quite a few DIY guides around on how to do this if you have a keg or two that is broken beyond repair.
An important part of understanding what a keg is, knowing what they’re made out of and any differences between the many versions currently out there.
As I mentioned above, you will find that pretty much every modern keg is either made out of aluminum or stainless steel. Most wooden kegs are only in use by some breweries that use traditional methods of brewing beer.
There two main different types of couplers that are currently out on the market. The popular sanke keg is the most common type you will find and is used by the beer industry in pretty much all their kegs. This keg has a single connection point while other types of couplers such as the corny keg type usually have three connection points. The corny type is very popular amongst the home brewing industry since most of these were bought up when the soda industry stopped using them. They’re also a lot easier to clean and maintain.
Some other types of kegs are not as common such as the mini keg & the beer ball. The main reason why these aren’t in use is mainly that they are too small for any commercial operation thus usually limited to sale at small bottle shops.
There are many different sizes of kegs that are currently around. Each of them has their pros and cons, for example, a larger version can hold more beer but takes up more room meaning less variety of beers you can fit in one area. The smaller version means less beer per keg, but you can get a greater variety of beer in the same amount of room.
It is important to note that the size & type of the couplers may differ a bit in both the UK & Ireland.
Tapping of a Keg
The process of tapping a keg is usually pretty straightforward, but the method does vary slightly depending on the type of connection you have.
You will find pretty much every keg setup will use a gas tap. This setup uses Co2 to push the beer out but also requires extra equipment to ensure the correct amount of Co2 is delivered to the keg. Setups that use Co2 typically aren’t very portable with the most popular way of dispensing beer being the kegerator.
Alternatively, you can find equipment that is called party taps/pumps. This type of tap uses oxygen to push the beer out. The only downside to this is that you’re introducing both oxygen and bacteria to the keg. While this won’t harm your beer in the short term, you will find that the beer will become undrinkable within 24 hours.
Keeping your keg cool is another important factor in getting your beer out correctly. There are quite a few methods of doing this, but the cheapest is a bucket & some ice. Knowing how to keep a keg chilled easily is a great piece of knowledge to have especially when you don’t have a kegerator or similar setup.
Our guide on how to tap a keg easily will take you through all the steps you need to know for getting that beer out correctly.
If I have missed anything that helps explain what a keg is or have feedback, then feel free to leave a comment below.