“How many kegs do I need to keep up with supply and demand?”
It’s a common question among new brewers, but finding the answer means you need to know the answers to these questions first:
- What will your brewing capacity be?
- How often do you plan to brew?
- What size are your fermenters?
- How many fermenters do you have?
- How many different beers will you offer initially?
- Will you work with a distributor or self-distribute?
- Are you planning to go into regional distribution?
- Will you have a taproom? How much of your beer will be sold there?
(A lot of new breweries are at 75%+ in taproom sales which means fewer kegs overall)
Mistakes to avoid
The biggest mistake brewers make is to say, “I’m brewing on a 5 barrel system so I need 5 barrels worth of kegs.” But what about the next 5 barrels? If you don’t have enough kegs, you won’t have anywhere to put that next batch.
If you plan to have a taproom, you’ll generally want to have 4 1/2 bbl kegs and 8 1/6 bbl kegs for every tap handle you have within 200 miles of the brewery. But some smaller, locally self-distributing breweries can get away with 3 1/2bbl and 5 1/6bbl per tap.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that a steady tap handle doesn’t mean what it did 10 years ago. Craft-centric bars with many taps tend to look for constant rotation. Even if your beer sells quickly, it may be a few weeks or longer before your beer gets put back on — which means your kegs will be held up longer and unavailable for your upcoming batches.
If you’re not up for predicting the future, just send us an email and we’ll help you figure out how many kegs you need to get started (it’s often less than you expect).