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    The Greenest of the Green…The Draft Beer Keg! Why Stainless Steel Kegs Are the Most Sustainable Beer Package

    The topic of sustainability has become a lot more than a buzzword. The more you look into its meaning and necessity, the more compelling it is to look for ways to be kinder to our planet — and the beer industry is no exception. But how, exactly, are we looking for ways to achieve it?

    An American History in Sustainable Beer Packaging

    There is no question the draft beer keg is the most environmentally responsible beverage package in the brewing industry today. This is because it ticks all the boxes. It is:

    • Returnable
    • Refillable
    • Recyclable

    Even more impressive is that this forward-thinking methodology of serving beer dates back to our founding fathers, who came over on the Mayflower in 1620. Departing from England in search of the New World for more than two months, the passengers and crew weathered storms, sickness, and starvation without taking to land — until they ran out of beer.

    Even then, the draft beer keg had its rightful place as the ideal “on-premise” package serving and sustaining the 100-plus passengers aboard the ship. The famous ale that was shipped to India was also delivered in kegs and only transferred to bottles for the civilian middle class; the troops drank their beer the same way they drank it back home – dispensed right from the keg.

    When you consider this history, you start to realize the value of the draft beer keg then and now. Even today, the draft beer keg remains at the forefront of sustainability and function — it still has no equal!

    How Stainless Steel Kegs Help Reduce the Beverage Industry’s Environmental Impact

    But the benefits of steel kegs don’t stop there…


    Circularity refers to keeping in mind where a product will end up once it has served its purpose. When it comes to cans and bottles, while they can certainly be recycled, the reality is that most consumers simply throw them away when they’re done drinking their beverage.

    Stainless steel kegs, on the other hand, keep getting reused for decades, exponentially reducing the amount of waste that reaches landfills. The draft beer keg has a service life of over 30 years. When you do the math, the average keg can serve 165 (12 ounce) bottles/cans; and turns five times per year; that means that over the life of a keg, about 25,000 glasses will be served from a single keg! Now multiply that by the number of kegs in a brewery, in a city, in a state, in the country, and worldwide – there is no question that the environmental impact is massive. In fact, Dan Vorlage, Executive Director of the Steel Keg Association, states that “Kegs presently remove about half of all single-use beer containers from the bar/restaurant waste stream each year. That’s approximately 6 billion containers.”

    Consequently, the industry reduces its CO2 emissions. And once they’ve reached the end of their lifespan, the materials are used to create new kegs.

    Efficiency and Profitability

    Draft beer profits play a significant role in the overall profitability of every bar and restaurant. Along with its environmental benefits, the stainless steel draft beer keg is the most profitable on-premises package available today; for retailers, draft beer's economic, high-margin profile ensures a maximum return on investment (check out our draft beer profitability calculator). They are among the best products to increase same-store sales and boost the average cost per check. And while this alone is enough to make the investment worth it, it’s also important to note that this storage method can be used for much more than beer. Kegs offer a practical solution whether you serve brews, wine, cocktails, kombucha, or nitro cold brews on tap.

    An Improved Customer Experience

    Kegs are designed to store beverages in a way that preserves optimal freshness, quality, and taste. As a starting point, this keeps customers happy. It also keeps them returning for more and bringing along their friends and families.

    With the continuous rise and popularity of craft and microbrew beers, offering seasonal brews on tap provides differentiation and choice. Consider the number of operators promoting specialty beers to complement the demand for expanded food options. There is no doubt that today's consumers want choice, and with the variety of seasonal and craft draft beers on the market, specialty draft beers are the ideal fit to assist in raising sales and profitability.

    For the brewery, draft beer is the ideal sampling tool to promote new products and increase brand awareness. There is no doubt with the numerous brand choices available today, each tap handle offers a unique opportunity to gain visibility and trial in the brewer’s quest to build brand recognition.

    And if you’re concerned that storing beverages exclusively in kegs means being limited on what you can serve, think again. Modern stainless steel options offer a wide variety of beverage alternatives.

    How Draft Beer Systems Have Evolved Over Time

    In the 1960s, it was quite common to find the average bar or restaurant serving four draft beers from a simple refrigerated direct draw draft beer system — two domestic and two imported brands.

    Today, the number of beers on tap can reach 100+, with many outlets featuring regional beers to take advantage of the successful trend toward seasonal, craft, and microbrew beers.

    The glycol-cooled long-draw system has become the industry's standard to satisfy the operators' need to serve a wide range of choices and the coldest and best beer in town. This is one of the most popular draft beer systems and is an excellent choice due to its ability to maintain the cooler temperature and deliver cold beer at long distances.

    Integral to the improved performance of the glycol system is the use of blended gas (CO2 and nitrogen) as the primary pressure source. Using blended gas preserves draft beer quality and offers the benefit of consistent pour quality from the first glass to the last glass — minimizing waste and maximizing keg yields.

    In short, if you care about the environment, maximizing profits, and improving the on-premise experience, stainless steel beer kegs are a sound investment.

    Find a Customized, Sustainable Dispensing Solution for Your Commercial Bar

    For over 60 years, Micro Matic has been recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of draft beer equipment. Specializing in keg-to-glass technology, we offer a total solution for meeting your draft beer equipment needs. Our dedication to customer service is supported by four regional sales and distribution centers, the Micro Matic Dispense Institute for training and education, and a Certified Installer Network for draft beer installations. Want to speak with a “perfect pour” expert? Contact Micro Matic today.