06 August 2008

Ask a Beer Geek - A Lesson on Kegs

From the mailbag:
Dear Beer Geeks: Please help. Do you know of any local brew pubs / restaurants / liquor stores who sell 5 gallon "sixth" kegs? (Besides The Ram)

Might also consider a quarter barrel pony keg.

Thank you.
Mike L.
It depends on what you're looking for, but the answer is yes. To our readers who might not be aware, the typical keg you have seen is actually a half barrel. Pony kegs, the shrunken cousin of the keg, are quarter barrels. Sixth barrels are the taller, more narrow kegs you see at a lot of beer festivals. If these are designed for beer, they should have the same tap connection as a regular keg. In rare cases, and especially in home brewing, Cornelius Kegs (i.e. soda kegs and corney kegs) can be used to store beer and these have a different tap connection.

Brugge is currently distributing sixth barrels and half barrels through liquor stores. I'm not sure if you can purchase one at the brewpub but my guess is no. Rock Bottom definitely has both half barrels and sixth barrels available. I was under the impression the Ram would only fill a keg you bring in, but I haven't tried so I don't know. That brings me to your second option. If you purchase a sixth barrel or half barrel you can take it to many brewpubs and have it filled without placing a deposit on the container. Sixth barrels are available from many homebrew stores, such as Great Fermentations.

If you're just looking for any sixth barrel full of beer and it doesn't have to be from a local brewery, most well stocked liquor stores with a nice beer selection should be able to help you out. Parti Pak and Kahn's are two examples of fine establishments which will sell sixth, quarter and half barrels of beer.

Always remember that you should expect to pay a deposit, possibly a very large deposit, on the keg. As long as you bring it back, it will be refunded to you. If you plan on purchasing kegs a lot, I would recommend investing in a party pump (the manual, hand pump tap) or a kegorator. Party pumps will run you about $50 but sometimes they are a necessity since not all liquor stores or microbreweries have them available to rent. Kegorators open up a whole other can of worms that will be left for a post some other day.

Does anyone know if Oaken Barrel, Broad Ripple Brewpub, Alcatraz or any other Indiana Microbreweries sell beer in containers larger than growlers? Do you have a favorite liquor store to purchase kegs of craft beer at?


  1. Caleb from Upland here. The Big Red on College Street here in Bloomington carries all of our year round styles in kegs and ponies. You can also special order 1/6 bbl. kegs of Wheat and Dragonfly at Kahn's in Indy.

    Cheers for Indiana beers!

  2. Thank you Mike and Rodney for your quick and informative response!

    For anyone interested, here's the info I received from the downtown Ram brewmaster:
    Lead time? If you want to pick it up in Fishers, Monday of that week will be fine. Pricing? The price is actually $40 for house beers and $45 for seasonals. If you want to pick it up from Fishers then add an additional $6. Any other information I need to know? All kegs 5 gal or larger come with a deposit of $100 cash. You may pay for the keg with cash or credit card but the deposit is cash only. Also our taps are in short supply so you may need to find a back up ie.) your nearest liquor store.

  3. Liz will fill your sanitized cornie keg at Rock Bottom for around $40. Comes in handy when you haven't thought through your brewing schedule and you're racking something that just stopped fermenting last week.