Keg. It’s a fun word to say. It’s a fun thing to bring to enliven a Christening. But how much do we really know about kegs? How do they work? How much beer do they hold? Is keg short for Kegan, or indeed Keginald? So many questions, so few answers. UNTIL NOW. So let’s take a deep dive into kegs and answer those questions that have left you waking bolt upright at 3 in the morning in a cold sweat shouting: “KEG!!!”. Ready? Let’s keg…
what is a beer keg?
So what is a beer keg? Well, thanks for asking, it’s a cold, pressurised barrel, typically made of steel or aluminium. Or for any Americans reading ‘Aluminum’. They used to be made out of wood and were ideal for storing, transporting and serving beer without taking up lots of space. In fact they became so popular in the early 2000s that Jason Statham starred in a film called ‘The Keg’, in which he had to tap an enormous keg that had been around since prehistoric times. Or something.
The difference between kegs and casks
Get ready to be armed with some conversational ammo that will both inform AND thrill on a first, second and even third date: What’s the difference between a keg and a cask? Well, you reply, tossing your hair back and forth in a seductive manner…casks are also wooden or metal barrels that store beer. BUT, you laugh charmingly, cask beer is fermented a second time in the barrel itself. It’s not interfered with, meaning the beer isn’t filtered or pasteurised, so it sits in the barrel fermenting, eventually maturing, turning the sugars into alcohol and producing a deeper flavour. Because of how it’s made, cask beer does have a shorter shelf life and can’t be poured straight away when it gets delivered to the pub. Cue stunned reaction and possibly spontaneous applause.
Keg sizes and types explained
If we were to sidle up to you and say: ‘Cornelius keg? Sixth barrel? Slim quarter?’ You’d quite possibly smile awkwardly and move seats, however here we explain the differences between the kegs.
WARNING: Includes some eye-wateringly detailed information about kegs.
If you really want to appear like you’re in the know you call it a Corny keg. The ol’ Corny keg. A tall, cylindrical barrel which measures 23" x 9" and has a 5-gallon (18 litres) capacity that can hold about 40 pints of beer or 53 cans. It's usually the go-to keg of choice for people who want to brew their own beer at home since it's a decent size and easy to clean and maintain. Try peppering this information unbidden into a work conversation today and see what happens. Fun!
Sixth Barrel Keg
The sixth barrel keg, or SBK as no-one calls it, is known for being the standard-sized keg for most bars and restaurants and is just a teeny tiny bit bigger than the Cornelius. Measuring 23⅜" x 9¼", although the difference is minuscule, size does matter. This keg has a capacity of 5.16 gallons (20 litres) and can hold approximately 41 pints of beer or 55 cans. That’s 23⅜" x 9¼", you might want to write that down.
Quarter Barrel Keg
You might have heard of the quarter barrel keg being referred to as a pony keg or even a stubby quarter because of its shorter height and glossy mane. But it's also a lot wider than others. The dimensions of this keg are 13⅞" x 16⅛", meaning it has a capacity of 7.75 gallons (30 litres) and can hold 62 pints of beer or 82 cans. If you've ever been to a raging house party with beer on tap and Frat boys shaving Greek letters into your hair, it was probably from this keg.
The half-barrel keg is the biggest one of them all. The inspiration for Jason Statham’s 2006 film The Keg 2. She’s a monster! Weighing in at 23⅜" x 16⅛", it has a capacity of 15.5 gallons (58.7 litres) and can hold 124 pints of beer or 165 cans. Probably not really a home keg and take it from us it makes for an incredibly unpopular 10th wedding anniversary present.
50 Litre Keg
Question: At this point could the Keg-namers come up with some more creative names? Kevin Kegan. Kegg Wallace. Have some fun with it. Apparently not. So we’re stuck with 50 Litre Keg, measuring 20.94" x 16.06", this keg has a capacity of, you guessed it, 50 litres (13.2 gallons) and can hold 105 pints of beer and 140 cans. This is actually the UK's favourite keg – What do you mean you haven’t got a favourite keg?
On the flip side, we absolutely love a mini keg. The perfect gift for a uni student interested in brewing their own beer or to have at your house for small parties, or to simply pretend you’re a giant holding a full sized keg in their massive hands. This keg measures just 9 ⅞" x 6 ¾", has a capacity of 1.32 gallons (5 litres) and can hold 10 pints of beer or 14 cans. Good stats.
Enjoy your favourite draught beers at our taproom!
SO! Armed with all of this keg knowledge, you are now PRIMED to kick open the doors of our Beavertown Taproom, just a 5-minute walk from Tottenham Hale tube station, and inform the barstaff that you’re ready for a Keg-off.
We all know that beer tastes best when it's on tap, so come visit the mothership sit back and enjoy our fresh from the brewery pints and cans.
Here, you can experience the entire Beavertown range, from the otherworldly popular Neck Oil to the American-inspired Gamma Ray. All the while you can utter some choice Keg Facts and garner the respect of your fellow drinkers. Here’s to the humble keg!