Kegs: You’re Renting, Not Buying

By Andy Sparhawk

Here we go again! This time someone’s listed a keg clearly owned by Deep Ellum Brewing Company on Craigslist.

According to Brewers Association member brewery data, keg loss costs every brewer between $0.46 and $1.37 per-barrel of annual keg production. This varies depending on the size of the brewery, percent of beer produced that is sold in kegs and other factors.

Assuming 2011 craft beer sales of 11.5 million barrels, lost kegs account for a direct capital cost of $5.3 million and $15.8 million annually. The indirect costs of product outages at wholesale and at retail caused by a shortened keg float are likely far higher.

deep_ellum_kegKeg Etiquette

  • When you put a deposits down on a keg, you’re renting, not buying.
  • The keg remains the property of the brewery.
  • Any keg you rent should be returned in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Always store empty kegs securely until you can return them to the place of purchase.
  • Never tamper with, mishandle, abuse or alter a keg.
  • It’s common sense: If you lose your deposit because you left your keg in your garage for a year, you still don’t own the keg.
  • This goes for you too homebrewers! Turning a rented keg into a keggle or grill is vandalism. Not to mention it’s illegal!
  • Only purchase kegs from a seller who holds legal title to those kegs.
  • Legal title should be transferred to you by the seller.

Use KegReturn.com to help you contact a brewery whose keg you currently hold, or to let them know about the location of their strays. KegReturn.com was created as a tool to help all beer industry stakeholders do the right thing.

Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association's craft beer program coordinator, is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Arvada, Colorado where he is a homebrewer and avid craft beer enthusiast. On occasion, Andy is inspired to write on his experiences with craft beer, and if they are not too ridiculous, you might see the results here on CraftBeer.com.

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