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Bringing a Keg to Your Next Party? Everything You Need to Know

Every method of serving beer has its strengths, but there’s nothing like tapping into a fresh keg to get a party started. Whether you’re hiring a bartender or having a serve-yourself solo cup bash, a keg setup ensures you and your guests will enjoy a well-stored brew with the perfect foamy head.

Types of Beer Kegs

A “keg” is technically a unit of measurement dating back to the earliest history of beer brewing in Europe. A “full keg” is 31 gallons of beer, but you’re unlikely to ever run across an actual keg holding that much brew. Instead, the largest keg typically available is a “half keg” holding 15.5 gallons—this is the traditional size you probably think of when you imagine a keg at a party.

For the most part, choosing a keg is all about deciding how much beer you’d like to serve at your event. There’s an endless supply of specialty kegs, ale casks and other varieties for the hardcore beer aficionado, but 99 percent of the time in the United States you’ll be dealing with one of the five types listed below.

Cornelius Keg

At five gallons, the Cornelius keg is the perfect size for a small party or night in with the friends. Originally intended for use with soda machines, Cornelius kegs are increasingly popular in the beer world thanks to home brewers, who often cook up recipes yielding five gallons of brew.

Also known as “Corny kegs,” this design is a good choice for home events because it’s very easy to clean and maintain, and is much easier to haul around compared to its larger cousins.

The Corny keg’s capacity equates to roughly 40 pints, or 53 cans of beer.

Sixth Barrel Keg

A sixth barrel keg (1/6 barrel keg) has a similar tall and elongated shape to the Cornelius keg and holds nearly the same amount, with 5.16 gallons compared with the Corny’s 5 gallons. Sixth barrels are chosen because they match more easily with other traditionally-sized kegs, and contain a tapping lock that’s more likely to be compatible with traditional dispenser systems.

Sixth barrels are a great choice when you need to mix and match with other traditionally sized kegs, or when you want to serve a smaller amount of a greater variety of beer types, instead of having a single larger keg.

The sixth barrel keg equates to roughly 41 pints of beer, or 55 cans.

Quarter Barrel Keg

Quarter barrel kegs are the first size with the traditional barrel radius that you’re familiar with from traditional kegs, but much shorter, leading to the nickname “stubby kegs.” A quarter barrel keg holds 7.75 gallons, meaning it’s actually a “half keg” if you’re comparing it to the largest keg available in the United States.

A quarter barrel keg’s capacity is equivalent to around 62 pints of beer, or 82 cans.

Slim Quarter Keg

Like its stubbier cousin, slim quarter kegs hold 7.75 gallons of brew, but have a taller, skinnier profile more similar to a Corny keg. For most people they’re interchangeable with a quarter barrel keg, unless you have specific dimensional requirements for your beer tap setup or dispensing system.

Like quarter barrel kegs, slim quarter kegs hold roughly 62 pints of beer, or 82 cans.

Half Barrel Keg

Half barrel Kegs are the full-sized kegs you’re used to, holding the full 15.5 gallons of beer. They’re the best choice when you need to serve a large capacity of people, and are most likely to be compatible with professional dispensing equipment and standard-sized home kegerators.

A half barrel keg holds the equivalent of about 124 pints of beer, or 165 cans.

Cooling Your Keg
In the United States, an icy cold brew is the preferred choice, both for taste and because it’s the best way to keep the beer bubbly without having too much froth.

For a bare-bones setup, all you need to do is surround the keg with plenty of ice, typically by putting it inside a larger container like a wash basin or tub. However, doing it this way means you have no way to finely regulate the temperature, and will eventually end up with a keg that’s too warm when the party goes on for hours.

The best way to keep your keg cool is with a kegerator or Jockey Box, both available from Sacramento Beer Rentals. Like the name implies, a kegerator is simply a refrigerator built specifically to hold a keg—usually half barrel kegs, although different sizes are available.

For a more versatile option that’s also usable when you don’t have access to electricity, pick a Jockey Box instead. This system is a self-contained solution (usually in a customized cooler box) that uses metal coils, ice and tubing to instantly cool beer from a room-temperature keg to the perfect 38 degrees as you dispense it. Because a Jockey Box system uses room temperature kegs, it’s easier to store extra kegs and hook them up as necessary, and you don’t need to worry about micromanaging the temperature of each individual keg.

Renting Beer Dispensing Equipment from Sacramento Beer Rentals

Sacramento Beer Rentals offers a variety of keg dispensing setups to meet the needs of any party in Sacramento, Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, & most areas in Northern California. From jockey boxes (1 tap, 2 tap, 4 tap), standard or custom 2 tap kegerators, an 11 tap beer trailer or a 4 tap beer truck, to fully catered bartending services for your backyard BBQ, wedding, private party, or festival, we’re your one-stop-shop for keg nirvana. For more details, visit our website here.