The Science Behind Beer Kegs


Beer kegs have been serving as the centerpiece of college parties and the backbone of many bars and taverns for decades. Typically available in a half or quarter barrel, the average keg can fill approximately 124 or 62 pints of beer, respectively. While it’s relatively simple to transport, store and use a keg around the home, there are some precautions to remember.

Typical Components of a Beer Keg

Despite the availability of different sizes, shapes and alternate materials, kegs are pretty standard around the world. As such, several components are found on nearly every keg.

  • The keg itself is typically made of stainless steel. While quarter barrels contain 7.75 gallons of liquid, the larger half barrel boasts 15.5. Smaller kegs, which are sometimes available, contain 5 gallons.
  • A coupler, sometimes referred to as a pump, is needed to withdraw beer out of the keg via the topmost valve.
  • Gas, either in the form of carbon dioxide or nitrogen, is used to help the beer flow smoother and quicker. The coupler or pump is often used, especially at parties, although it’s not as effective as gas.
  • Tubing is also required to transport the beer from the keg and into your cup. Commonly made of polyethylene or vinyl, some partygoers chill the tube for additional coldness.
  • If you’d rather forego the manual-powered party pump, your other option is to outfit your keg with a faucet. This ensures consistency between beer pours, which can help keep your party going all night long.

Common Beer Keg Safety Tips

Kegs are often enjoyed at personal house parties that involve many rowdy drinkers. It might be a good idea to go over these simple safety tips at the beginning of each event.

  • Remember that a standard half barrel weighs over 150 pounds. Always use two people when moving, transporting or carrying a full keg of beer. You’ll also want to wear appropriate foot protection to avoid injury.
  • Examine the exterior of the keg for any damage. Apart from causing the barrel to leak, cracks or holes could cause personal injury while handling the keg.
  • Verify that the keg sits flatly and firmly on the ground or surface. If not, inspect the bottom chimes for any damage.
  • Check the seal around the keg’s topmost valve and make sure it’s as tight as possible. You might be exposing your beer to the pollutants of its surrounding environment without even knowing it.
  • Never throw a full keg into a fire. Apart from wasting lots of beer, this party trick could result in serious injury as the liquid inside starts to boil and the keg itself turns into a large projectile.

The Perfect Beer Pour

Anyone can pour a glass of beer, but it takes a true professional to pour the perfect glass of beer every time. To do this, hold your cup at a 45-degree angle and open the faucet or pump to its maximum. Once the liquid reaches the halfway point of your glass, reduce the angle of the glass until it’s standing straight up in relation to the faucet. Close the faucet or pump at the last second to top it off with a thick layer of head or foam. It might take some practice to avoid overflowing the cup, but you’ll be pouring the perfect glass of beer in no time!

Getting the Most from Your Keg

Keg refills and rentals aren’t cheap. Many purchase beer kegs to coincide with life milestones and other special events, so it’s important to become familiar with the nuances of the barrel and its hardware. It’s impossible to tell how much beer has been lost or wasted as a result of keg misuse, but these tips will make sure that your cup is always full.

One thought on “The Science Behind Beer Kegs”

  1. Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one!

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