View Full Version : Keg Inventory

02-24-2015, 07:05 PM
What is the average inventory to keep on hand for kegs? I realize there are a lot of variables but I guess my real question is how long does it take on average from the time a keg leaves the brewery to when it makes it back? And is there a difference between that time for self distribution vs using a distributor? We're a brewery in planning and are trying to get a realistic number for what we expect to spend on kegs.


Kevin Jones
Head Brewer
Brew Seven

02-25-2015, 06:45 AM
It depends on a lot of stuff... First of all, how much draught do you intend to do? How long are your distribution channels and how efficient are you going to be at retrieving your empties? Do you want to be able to keg off whole tanks of beer, or are you able to leave a partial batch in your BBT, waiting for kegs to return? Do you even have enough cold room space to hold that many full kegs?

Our keg inventory is equal to about 8 times our weekly keg sales, or to put it another way, we're set up to use each keg an average of 6.5 times per year. We're 95% self-distributed to a local market and we have a lot of control over how fast we get our empties back because in a pinch, we can just go out and get them. We also often bottle part of a batch and keg the rest, so we seldom need to keg off whole batches. I suspect that we run a bit leaner on kegs than a lot of breweries do, particularly breweries that need to use a distributor and sell draught over a wide geographical area.

02-25-2015, 07:21 AM
We have the 3 tier system here and distribute thru the whole state of Michigan. I have seen kegs come back 8 months from the ship out date plus we have several islands that sell our beer and kegs get hung up there for quite some time. Yes, lots of variables occur. We visit our distributors and look for kegs and really try to stay on them about getting them back. There is several companies out there that can put bar codes and RFI transmitters to keep a great inventory but thats lots of money. We all loose our asses on kegs that are stolen, sold by bar staff for money or homebrewers. I even seen a micro in this state that had a nano system that was using Bud kegs as a kettle. BTW you need to consider your ratio of 1/2 to 1/6 or even 1/4 as we have seen a surge of interest in the 1/6 over the 1/2 we have had to purchase almost 250 1/6 in the past several years just to try and keep up

05-14-2015, 09:03 PM
I'm late to this thread but wanted to add a few nuggets to the good stuff above, just in case the OP is still watching. The two guys above have done a good job illustrating the far ends of the distribution spectrum... well, almost far. One guy self distributes and can control his destiny, and therefore gets to use his kegs 6.5 times a year. The other guys points out that he sees kegs come back AFTER 8 months in the system, and he is correct.

I started out thinking that if I had 4 - 5 kegs per tap handle I'd be good to go. Unfortunately I wasn't even close, although it's getting better. Our kegs are averaging 3 months per 6B and 4 months per HB turnaround. This is better than it was, and getting better because we've pulled back some flavors and are only focusing on what the distributor wants to sell (note - what *they* want to sell). Also note that in our first year with a distributor, we (they) lost about 10% of our fleet. This is a big, expensive number. It was partially our fault because some of our kegs were not well marked. Learn from my pain.

I would love to implement one of the aforementioned keg tracking approaches and I probably will because manual tracking of a large fleet is a huge PITA, BUT (and it's a big BUT), the kegs still go into a black hole as soon as they leave your shop. Until we can get distributors on board with some sort of tracking solution, they are of limited usefulness to us. (My opinion.)