These are all great questions, and if you are new to kegging and draft beer, it can be a little intimidating trying to figure out what you need and what you should buy to get your home draft system set up and running. But don’t worry, we got the answers for you, and its not as scary as it might seem. We hope this information serves as useful when you decide to make your home draft beer system!
The main difference between a homebrew (AKA Corny Keg) and a Commercial keg all takes place on the top of the keg. A homebrew keg has a large removable lid that allows the home brewer to open the keg up, wash & sanitize the inside of it, and fill it with beer with ease. The other main difference you will notice is that corny kegs have 2 posts on top (on opposite sides of the top of the keg), instead of 1 larger port in the center of the keg like on the commercial kegs. One post is used to connect a CO2 line to carbonate your beer, and the other post is to connect your beer line for pouring draft beer from the keg. Since the commercial kegs only have one port up top, a sanke keg coupler is used which has connections for both the CO2 and Beer lines connected to it.
Homebrew Kegs: Cornelius Kegs (AKA Corny Kegs)
First lets start with Homebrew Cornelius Kegs AKA Corny Kegs. There are quite a few different styles and sizes of Corny kegs on the market nowadays. Cornelius Kegs are essentially old soda kegs. These kegs are perfect for home brewers because they have a large lid on top that you can remove which makes for easy cleaning and refilling of your kegs. There are 2 different types of Corny Kegs; Ball Lock and Pin Lock. Ball lock kegs were manufactured for Pepsi Co.®, and Pin Lock kegs were manufactured for Coca-Cola®.
Many home brewers have the old/used Pin Lock or Ball Lock soda kegs that they use. But they 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. So to avoid confusion, throughout this article we will be referring to the old/used Ball Lock and Pin Lock kegs, not the new ones (as there are many different companies manufacturing different sizes and styles of the new corny kegs now).
Both Ball Lock and Pin Lock kegs are a standard 5 gallon size (the perfect size for home brewers) which can hold roughly 53 – 12oz. beers. The main difference between these two kegs are the posts that are used. Pin Lock Kegs use posts that have small barbs that stick off of the sides of them that allow the disconnects to lock on to. Also, ball lock kegs typically have a pull-pin pressure relief valve built into the lid, where the the pin lock kegs don’t.
The last real noticeable difference in these kegs are the dimensions of them. Standard ball lock kegs measure 25″ tall x 8.5″ diameter, while standard pin lock kegs measure 23″ tall x 9″ diameter.
Commercial style kegs all have the same fitting up top (discussed above), but there are different sizes of commercial kegs. There are 4 main sizes of commercial kegs that are used regularly. Sixth Barrel, Short/Quarter Barrel (AKA Pony Keg), Slim/Quarter Barrel, and the Half Barrel. Commercial Keg sizes are as follows:
- Sixth Barrel (23.3″x9.25″D) | 55 -12oz. Beers
- Short/Quarter Barrel (14.8″x16.125″D) | 82 -12oz. Beers
- Slim/Sixth Barrel (23.3″x11.125″D) | 82 -12oz. Beers
- Half Barrel (23.3″x16.125″D) | 165 -12oz. Beers
We hope this helps answer some questions that you may have had about kegs, and put you at ease about getting into kegging your home brewed beer. And believe us, once you start kegging, you will never want to go back to bottling all those beers! One Keg vs. 50 bottles, and its ready to drink in days, not weeks!
Enjoy the infographic at the top of the page which breaks down all the information spelled out in this article. Feel free download and save it as a reference for yourself, and share with your friends!