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How To Choose The Best Keg Size

Beer keg set on a white background.

Size doesn’t always matter but when you’re talking about kegs, it definitely matters and bigger isn’t always better. It’s all about what keg suits your every need and desire. Maybe we’re a little too passionate about kegs, but as a team of passionate beer enthusiasts, we want to spread the passion and the knowledge we have on to you.

From the common keg to the smaller sized kegs for homebrewing, kegs vary so much and finding the right one for you can be a daunting task. This brief guide comparing keg types will help you understand the various sizes, dimensions, shapes, capacity, and even commonly used keg nicknames. Don’t be intimidated because we will help you through the process of how to choose a keg, so you can sit back and enjoy your beer, or whatever you’re drinking.

Kegs for the Casual Beer Drinker

Beer keg set on a white background.

The Mini Keg allows you to serve fresh draft beer in your home without having to buy a kegerator or build a home bar.  The mini keg size is great if you have a small space or brew in smaller batches, especially, if you brew one gallon beer recipes.  Also, this keg is very economical for homebrewers.  You don’t need to invest in a CO2 system to use a mini keg.

What else is great about the mini keg?  Because of its small size and light weight when full of beer (about 13 pounds) it’s easy to transport.  Want to bring it to a friends house? No problem! Because the mini keg is not a very common size the kegs are usually imported.  So you would need to buy a mini keg from an online retailer specializing in beer supplies rather than going to a one-stop-shop like Amazon.  With all that being said the mini keg is still a very inexpensive option to kegging beer.

Perfect Sizes for Serious Home Brewers

Homebrewers typically choose between three styles to keg their beer: Ball Lock, Pin Lock, and Sankey kegs. Ball and Pin lock are “brothers” as they are similar but there are subtle differences between them. Commercial brewers usually use Sankey kegs, but homebrewers can use them as well.

The Pin and Ball Lock kegs are both considered Cornelius (“Corny”) kegs. The Ball Lock kegs are the more popular (based on availability to homebrewers) of the two that homebrewers use. Ball lock kegs were manufactured for Pepsi Co.®, and Pin Lock kegs were manufactured for Coca-Cola®.

Homebrewers use a “ball lock” to connect the gas and liquid lines to the keg. When shopping for disconnects, you just need to look for the word “ball lock” in the description. The Ball Lock kegs are taller and usually slimmer than the Pin Lock Keg. Pin Lock kegs are alike to the Ball Lock Kegs, but have subtle differences:

1. Their lids do not have a manual pressure release relief valve (PRV).

2. They use different connections for gas and liquid where you won’t be confused on which connection goes where, gas or liquid.

Pin and Ball kegs are becoming harder and harder to find as more and more home brewers snatch them up.  That is why you are starting to see more “New Corny Kegs” on the market these days.

Heavy Duty Kegs for Homes and Commercial Breweries

The Quarter barrel keg is the same width (16 ⅛”) as a full barrel, but approximately 10″ shorter in height.  So basically, this looks like the keg you’re used to seeing at parties but a stubby version.  Hence its nickname the “Stubby Quarter” keg.

The sixtel and Pony is roughly the same size as the Corny Keg, just slightly larger. A main difference between a sixtel and a corny keg is that the sixtel will have a commercial style connection (rather than ball/pin lock fittings).  This smaller sized keg functions just like larger kegs, but the sixth barrel keg holds less beer than other types of kegs.  This keg is commonly used for personal use in dual or triple-tap kegerators, craft breweries and restaurants, or those that are serving high gravity beers.

If height is an issue, the Quarter Barrel Keg is the solution. It has the same width (16⅛”) as a full barrel, but it is 10″ shorter in height. Individuals call it “Pony Keg” or a “Stubby Keg,” a very popular keg size because it will hold the equivalent of sixty-two pints or eighty-two bottles off beer.

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