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How Many Beers Are in a Keg?

Ellen Gutoskey
How many red solo cups will this cover?
How many red solo cups will this cover? / Emilio Torrente/EyeEm/Getty Images
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When people first started using the word keg back in the 17th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it described “a small barrel or cask, usually of less than 10 gallons.” 

It didn’t come to mean a barrel of beer, specifically, until the mid-20th century. Though you can order kegs of other beverages—wine, soda, etc.—these days, it’s pretty safe to assume that if someone mentions getting a keg for their upcoming party, there’s going to be beer in it. What’s slightly less safe to assume is just how many red solo cups it will fill. And that’s because kegs aren’t all the same size.

But they are more or less standardized across keg providers, who are typically good about breaking down the dimensions and capacity of each kind on their websites. Read on for details from KegWorks and Buy Keg Beer.

Cornelius Keg

Other names: Corny keg, soda keg
Capacity: 5 gallons
12-ounce beers: 53
16-ounce beers (pints): 40

These tall kegs, originally used for Coca-Cola and Pepsi, are so named because they were manufactured by Cornelius, Inc. They’re popular among home brewers.

Sixth-Barrel Keg

Other names: Sixtel, torpedo log
Capacity: 5.16 gallons
12-ounce beers: 55
16-ounce beers (pints): 41

Just a tad larger than a corny keg, the sixth-barrel is ideal for smaller establishments who prioritize variety over quantity. 

Quarter-Barrel Keg

Other names: Pony keg, stubby quarter
Capacity: 7.75 gallons
12-ounce beers: 82
16-ounce beers (pints): 62

The quarter-barrel is sometimes called a “stubby quarter” because it’s short and squat.

Slim Quarter Keg

Other names: Tall quarter
Capacity: 7.75 gallons
12-ounce beers: 82
16-ounce beers (pints): 62

Slim-quarter kegs hold the same amount of beer as a regular quarter-barrel, but dual- and triple-tap kegerators can better accommodate their shape.

Half-Barrel Keg

Other names: Full-size keg, full keg
Capacity: 15.5 gallon
12-ounce beers: 165
16-ounce beers (pints): 124

This is the kind of keg you usually see at big parties—hence why it’s considered a “full” or “full-size” keg.

50-Litre Keg

Other names: Import keg, European barrel
Capacity: 13.2 gallons
12-ounce beers: 140
16-ounce beers (pints): 105

The 50-litre keg, popular in Europe, requires a different kind of keg coupler.

Mini Keg

Other names: N/A
Capacity: 1.32 gallons
12-ounce beers: 14
16-ounce beers (pints): 10

Mini kegs don’t serve a ton of people, but they can fit on your tabletop. Fun!

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