Do not attempt a keg stand on one of these…
Philadelphia currently has several active breweries and should have even more by the end of the year. This helps to solidify our reputation as the best damned beer city in America and, hopefully, gives us increased access to small batch beers. Yum!
Starting a brewery is not the easiest or cheapest thing in the world. Apparently, it is also not a way to get rich and very few brewers start out with enough capital. Making your own or repurposing equipment is a good way to make that working capital go a bit further. Keg inventory is an expense that may have a solution.
Plastic Kegs America (www.pkamerica.com) offers a variety of keg sizes and colors. Branding, custom colors and Radio Frequency Identification are available options. Imagine being able to spot your keg by a simple glance. Although fairly new to the beer world, they do have some obvious advantages:
• Plastic kegs can be about half of the cost of the stainless steel keg.
• They’re about half the weight. Shipping more in the same space lowers per unit costs, particularly important if you self-distribute but a plus for route servicing.
• Plastic kegs don’t make good BBQ grills. Who wants to steal a plastic keg?
• The ability to have your brewery info engraved into the kegs.
• Plastic is durable.
• No off-flavors. An international test house confirms the plastic kegs are suitable for use with beer.
• Made in the USA… at least until California slides off into the ocean.
Disadvantages, in my opinion, would include:
• Most retailers are not familiar with a plastic product and may resist using the kegs initially.
• Propensity of people willing to test the plastic kegs… “Let’s see if we can break this.”
• Distributors may not want to handle a plastic keg.
I spent some time talking to people about this product and it seems to hold up well. It can be cleaned and filled the same way as a stainless steel keg. There were some minor issues with the half-barrels not fitting into a kegerator but the issue was resolved and they are now 2 1/2” inches shorter than a comparable metal keg. Obviously, this a decision that must be individually made but I could see this becoming a viable alternative since it would be fairly easy to integrate the plastic and metal kegs into the same inventory. Are plastic kegs the way of the future? We shall wait and see. Meanwhile, grab a stool and enjoy good beer with a friend.