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Thread: Keg Turn Rates

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    16

    Keg Turn Rates

    I'm trying to figure out how long it typically takes for a (1/2 bbl) keg to return to the brewery after it's shipped out.

    I found a purported case study that talks about New Belgium and it mentions a turn rate of 3.5 per year. That's over 3 months per roundtrip. Seems awfully long to me.

    Maybe NB's large, multi-state footprint has a lot to do with that stat; for now, I'm just looking at in-state distribution with a radius of no more than, say, 150 miles.

    It's been long enough since I've been in retail and distribution that I don't exactly recall how fast kegs got consumed on premise and how long they idled in the hands of the wholesaler (empty or full).

    As you've surely guessed, this information is important to me for estimating required keg inventory given various production levels.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Chestertown, Maryland
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    375
    Are you self-distributing, or going to go through a separate distributor? Either way, a distributor in your specific area (or another microbrewer in your area) would probably be the best resource to get this data point.

    Your profile and message don't indicate where you're located, so that's hard to offer more specifics than that at this time...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    39

    returns

    And many you will never see again

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    82
    as a wrong turn on my tortuous path towards owning a small brewery, I owned an ultimately unsuccessful craft beer/sports bar that stayed open for 14 months. 32 taps, another hundred bottles.

    Our quickest moving craft handles were keg-a-week movers, or better; At or near the top were Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat probably about a keg and a half a week, ie one week I'd get one, the next week two; Avery Joes, IPA, and White Rascal were all about one a week, as was Left Hand Milk Stout on nitro (we didn't carry Guinness on tap) and Bristol's Laughing Lab, or whatever other brown we might have in that slot, say Moose Drool. Of the smaller indies, Bull & Bush Man Beer was about an 8-9 day turnaround. Dry Dock 7 Seas (later renamed Dry Dock IIPA) ran around 10-12 days, as did Gordon from Oskar Blues, Lagunitas Pils or IPA, Deschutes Red Chair (Black Butte Porter a little slower), etc. Many many more were on every two or three week rotations, and a beer that took longer than 30 days we considered a risk for re-upping.

    A, as noted, we weren't successful; if all these turnarounds were about 25% faster, we might have been. So, maybe my numbers are a little suspect & you should ask the SUCCESSFUL on-premise craft retailers in your target market what their experience is.

    B, we had 32 taps and all those bottles, so our customers had a lot of choices, which may have slowed turnaround for some beers. In a more typical bar with Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, Corona, Stella, Guinness and three or four American micros, if you're one of those micros (big if) you might be selling a 1/2 bbl every other day. All you gotta do is elbow your way in between Sam Adams, New Belgium, etc...(I never sold either except for a half barrel of La Folie; I wouldn't put Fat Tire on so I never got another shot at La Folie or Eric's etc. God, I really WAS a shitty businessman...)

    C obviously stuff like Avery Rumpkin, when word got out, or Pliny if we could get it, lasted less than a night or two for a 1/6 bbl....Oak-Aged Yeti variations, great beer, very reasonably priced, but not "rare", maybe 4-5 days for a 1/6 bbl, so we'd buy 2 one week and 1 the next.

    D, OTOH something we were trying to educate our customers about that didn't have a lot of buzz, might take a long time; I remember a 1/2 bbl of Widmer's XP-114,that didn't have a big geek following in my part of the world, plus we always had 5-6 IPAs on anyhoo, taking 7 weeks to run through. Crabtree makes some excellent beers but they were very new in Denver when I took a 1/2 bbl of something dark,heavy and bourbon-y, forget what it was now, which I just couldn't sell; took two months and we were selling it at half price ("Draft of the Day") for the second month... and it wasn't just the whiskey barrel or the "heaviness" because I was selling the hell out of Oskar Blues Ol' Double Bagger and Odell's Bourbon Barrel Stout at or around the same time.

    So I guess (sorry for all the verbosity it took to get here) it boils down to "it depends..." (and I haven't addressed how long it sat in the distributor's warehouse before it got to me in the first place, or how long after the empty gets picked up before they get it back to you. But I can see two-three weeks at either end--don't they wait til they have a full pallet, to send the kegs back?--so for what I would call a "thirty day keg" from a retail standpoint you'd be at two and a half months, easy, which is 4.8 turns per year and not far off what you read.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    16
    That's good stuff, thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Nashville
    Posts
    671
    Rule of thumb is 5-6 kegs per tap handle in the market. Figure you might average 2-3 half-bbl kegs per month per taphandle, and you can estimate how many kegs you need.

    I think that New Belgium study was right on the money for a regional brewery. For a local outfit, you won't have the buffer of kegs waiting for the freight to make sense to return, so your turns will be more per year. But really, you need to look at how many taps and how fast the beer turns through per tap.
    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN
    [url]www.yazoobrew.com[/url]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Posts
    466
    I'm currently tracking our kegs...since September.

    Average is 6 weeks from our door back to our door. But since September the numbers returning have been dwindling.

    Best return time: 12 days
    Avg:44 days
    Longest that was still returned: 187 days
    Number of kegs that are still AWOL: 113

    Hope that helps

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    90
    Quote Originally Posted by Natrat
    I'm currently tracking our kegs...since September.

    Average is 6 weeks from our door back to our door. But since September the numbers returning have been dwindling.

    Best return time: 12 days
    Avg:44 days
    Longest that was still returned: 187 days
    Number of kegs that are still AWOL: 113

    Hope that helps
    Natrat, you have 113 kegs AWOL, out of how many total in your inventory?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Posts
    466
    Somewhat over 1500. And not all my kegs are tagged, yet. There may be more awol. Thankfully, they have ALL gone to the same distributor...and I hope they may come home soon!

    Actually, once I get the kegs in the warehouse integrated, we will be closing in on 2000 kegs, and about to order 1400 more...!

    BTW, not to hijack the thread, but when kegs from another craft brewery come through your door, what do you do with them? I tend to send them as singles back to the brewery they came from, but I got an acerbic email from one brewery complaining about the UPS label on the keg. I'm debating whether or not to keep sending them via UPS, or just give them back to the distributor...

    Nat

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    16
    So you returned someone's wayward keg to them (at your own cost?) and they complained? Nice...

    Nat, if you don't mind me asking, what is the annual production level that those 1,500+ kegs (all 1/2 barrels, or what?) accommodate?

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