Inside of a beer keg

How kegs work

In first article we wrote about the differences between a keg and a cask.

In this article we will see how they work and what are they made of.

During kegs manufacturing process, the factory melts a particular steel, copper, nickel and manganese alloy which ensures to leave a smooth joint so there are no gaps in which bacteria could shelter and spoil the beer.

The result is an incredibly resistant keg capable of enduring the pressure of the inside fluid without busting, and resist the blows it will receive during the transportation to its destination.

Kegs of more than 5 liters are all reusable, which means that are returned to the brewery for refilling. The 5 liter mini keg is recyclable and it’s usually never returned back for refilling.

Barrels of beer must be sealed or oxygen could penetrate inside which would mean that beer would be spoiled within days. But since the beer must go out somehow, all pressurized barrels are equipped with a valve at the top that allows fluid to go out. This valve is connected to a tube called spear that almost reach the bottom of the keg, the spear is going to be used by the beer for raising to the valve.

Inside of a beer keg

In the other hand casks come equipped with a spigot at the bottom and an oxygen inlet at the top (if they operate by gravity) or an outlet for beer and a valve for pumping air (if they operate by air pressure).

For more information about Cask and Keg barrels types please visit this link.

Keg barrels type use CO2 or N2 as gas, the reason is that the CO2 gas is the same gas that beer naturally produce and it’s the gas that generates the bubbles and foam so inserting CO2 into the barrel does not harm the flavor or smell of the beer. Nitrogen is also near neutral so it usually doesn`t introduce any strange taste or flavor in beer.

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Franziskaner 5 and 6 liter kegs

5 and 6 liter Fraziskaner mini beer kegs

Franziskaner offers their mini beer kegs in two different formats, on one hand we have the unpressurized 5-liter Franziskaner keg, following party keg format, and in the other we have the pressurized 6-liter keg, following perfect draft format.

Franziskaner 5 and 6 liter kegs

As usual in unpressurized type of kegs, this keg has a spout at the bottom for the beer to come out naturally by gravity force. The pressurized version has a valve in the upper side that should be connected to a beer tap with the appropriate connector for the beer to come out.

To learn more about the difference between pressurized and unpressurized kegs (or casks) you can read this article.

The Franziskaner beer is easy to find in most European pubs, the most common format in this kind of establishments is the bottle format. You will recorgnize it by the Franciscan monk who appears on the label.

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Heineken Keg

Heineken mini beer keg

Today we start reviews of mini beer kegs with the Heineken 5 liter pressurized keg, this keg format is known as beertender format.

Heineken beer keg

The reason we start with the Heineken keg is that is the first keg I bought, and therefore the one that introduced me to the wonderful world of beer kegs. We can say that it has the honor of being the responsive of this blog existence.

Heineken is a Dutch beer brand that claims to be producing beer according to the same recipe since 1873. The recipe was created by Gerard Heineken and nowadays is one of the European beer icons.

This beer is lager type, which means it is a smooth and very easy to drink beer which should be served very cold. It’s the kind of beer served in bars in southern countries of Europe.

From a taste point of view, the Heineken beer is a limpid lager with very low turbidity. In the nose you can find herbal touches while in mouth you will find mild hop flavor with a slight bitterness at the end.

Heineken offers the beer in a 5 liter pressurized keg. This means that a barrel contains air to the beer to come out from the upper valve. This is the type of barrels normally found in pubs. To learn more about the barrels pressurized and unpressurized type you can read this article.

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Keg and cask beer barrels

In English we have two terms to refer to the two types of barrels we can find in the market: “Keg” and “Cask”. Depending on the type of barrel we operate, we need a different pump, in the image below the pumps in the middle are for cask type barrels while side ones operate Keg type barrels.

Keg and Cask beer shooters in a pub.

A keg is a barrel that operates by injecting pressurized gas.

In the other hand Cask type barrels doesn’t have injected gas and therefore it is necessary to exert pressure on the liquid to reach the beer shooter. This type of beer barrels can be found in some British pubs (the only place I’ve seen them) and, unlike the Keg barrel type, they need some kind of lever for the barman to serve the beer by manual injecting air.

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