Beer Kegs: we’ve all seen them at various house parties and tailgating events, but do you know how a beer keg actually works? That circular, round aluminum keg which delivers the crisp, cool beer on the go. It’s a portable draft that has livened up millions of events that otherwise may have just stuck to Long Island ice teas and quiet mood music. The beer keg is responsible for both good times and bad decisions, but definitely has helped create some worthwhile memories for those that were partaking in the nectar that the beer keg was producing for their festivities. If you’ve ever done a keg stand, you might understand how the keg dispenses the beer (while you were upside down), but do you truly know how it works? Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the beer keg.
A keg is like an aluminum beer barrel and is made with a particular alloy of chromium, nickel, manganese and several other elements. The airtightness of the keg is incredibly important as that is what lets the beer retain its fresh and crisp taste. One of the main features of a keg is the spear, which is a long metal tube that reaches to the bottom of the keg and allows the beer to be transported through the keg tap.
There are many different types of kegs. The “half-barrel” is usually what is delivered to pubs when they order their beer supply and also may be found in frat parties nestled in a bucket of ice. For smaller gatherings, there exists what is called a “pony keg” or a quarter keg. It got its name “pony” because like ponies, the quarter keg is small and more mobile than the half-barrel. However, it can still hold almost 90 pounds of beer! There is also a “torpedo keg” also referred to as a “sixth barrel” and that keg holds five gallons. The “mini-keg” is next and that provides about 10 and a half pints of beer. One of the smallest types of kegs is the “beer ball,” which holds only 5 gallons of beer but is so mobile that it is popular at all kinds of events such as tailgating and many different parties.
How a keg dispenses beer all comes down to pressurization. Gravity is also a force that causes the beer to rise up and out of the spear to produce for you your wonderful beer. CO2 canisters are also utilized in the dispensing of beer as it harnesses the natural carbonation of the beer to catapult it up and through the spear. Excess carbonation, however, can make the beer a big glass of fizz. So, regulating the carbonation is an important part of a keg. That’s why there is a tap for the beer, which lets beer escape one-way and lets nothing inside. And there are couplers which are designed for taps that are pressurized with gas.
So, now that you have a general idea of how a keg works, why not learn more? Sign-up for one free class at Maryland Bartending Academy and learn about more than just kegs and beer. Learn the art of bartending!
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If you have any questions about kegs or wish to register for an upcoming class, please contact the Maryland Bartending Academy by calling 410-787-0020 or visit MarylandBartending.com today!
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