The economics of draft versus bottle beer
Whether you are considering beer for your bar, restaurant or home, here are a few things to consider:
Space & Refrigeration:
Keg beer is delivered at serving temperature. It is the responsibility of the beer wholesaler to deliver keg beer to consumers and retailers at serving temperatures, while bottles and cans are stored at ambient temperatures. If summer ambient is 80 degrees, it is your cost and responsibility to chill it to serving temperature. Not only is this cost a burden, it also adds time to turning the bottle into profit. It can take hours to take a hot bottle of beer to proper serving temperatures.
Also, a half barrel of beer is approx. 6.7 cases of 12 ounce bottle. A typical case of 24 bottle is 16 x 16 x 24 and 6.7 cases is approx. 23 cu ft while a half barrel is approx 6.5 cu ft. If your limited on space, kegs are a better value.
Waste Removal and Recycling:
A keg of beer can have a 30 year life span and stainless steel is a very valuable metal for recycling. Bottle’s in 6.7 kegs (160 bottles) need to be recycled or added to local landfills. If you store bottles for recycling or throw them away, you will need to take up valuable room in your establishment.
Domestic keg beer is not pasteurized while bottles and cans are heat treated. The pasteurization process kills “bad” bacteria and flavor. The keg is the optimum brewery experience and the bottle is a shadow of the flavor you would have received. The flavor difference can be compared to farm fresh, raw milk taste versus factory farm, homogenized and pasteurized milk.
Profit and Cost:
Keg beer is generally a better value from a simple cost and profit perspective. The benefit narrows when you move to kegs smaller than a half barrel.
Unique and Partnerships:
Local craft brewers make incredible seasonal and everyday beer. These finely crafted products are usually available in kegs only. It is expensive for a small brewer to setup and run a bottling line. Keg beer allows them to produce small batches of unique, seasonal beers. By partnering with a local brewer, a restaurant can have access to beer that their guests can only find in draft.