How the Brewers Association Is Helping Members Recover Lost Kegs

The Brewers Association wants the public to know that kegs are expensive, and that keeping them after you’re done using them could be costing your favorite brewer a lot of money.

In the craft-brewing world, keg theft is no joke.

Those metal devices that hook up to beer taps at bars around the country are incredibly valuable, and, generally, when they’re handed off to a client, the brewer expects to get them back.

But sometimes that doesn’t happen, and that’s where the Brewers Association comes into play. Recently, Andy Sparhawk, the craft-beer program coordinator at BA, highlighted how keg theft remains a serious problem throughout the industry. Despite the deposits paid for the kegs, they often don’t get returned to their rightful owners. Sometimes they’re sold on Craigslist or eBay, and other times they’re turned into DIY projects.

“Many simply cannot comprehend that a keg deposit is a good faith promissory note that they will return the shiny outer shell of a beer purchase,” Sparhawk wrote in a recent blog post, which was inspired by brewer comments on the issue. “Instead, many seem to believe that they have the option to either get their 50 bucks back or to turn that shell into lawn furniture. You and I know that is not how it’s supposed to work.”

And it’s not cheap, either: According to a prior piece from Sparhawk on, lost kegs costs brewers between 46 cents and $1.37 per barrel. That’s not a small cost—industrywide, it adds up to millions of dollars.

“When you put a deposits down on a keg, you’re renting, not buying,” Sparhawk emphasizes.

The keg problem has long been on BA’s mind. In recent years, the association has teamed with Microstar Quality Services on, a website that’s designed to inform the public about the issues with keeping kegs, as well as how to return the kegs to brewers.

Although brewers have to pay to get the stray kegs back, BA emphasizes that it’s “far less expensive and far faster than replacing a stray keg with a new one.”

So, if you have a random keg hanging around, help a brewer out! You might get a free beer as a reward.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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