Draft Beer 101, Part 1

We’re going back to basics and taking you on a journey to soak up some draft beer fundamentals. We’ll quench your thirst for knowledge and make you a more educated beer connoisseur, starting with draft beer definitions and a breakdown of keg volumes and dimensions.

Draft Beer Definitions

Direct Draw Draft System / Draft System
Technical name for specialized equipment that is built specifically for dispensing keg beer from a temperature-controlled environment, through the use of compressed gas. Direct draw draft systems may be housed in a kegerator, walk-in cooler or converted refrigerator. Boil down all that fancy talk and you’ve got a system to keep your beer cold and get it into your glass.

Draft Beer
Any type of beer that is drawn from a large vessel. Kegs aren’t the only “vessels;” the term “draft beer” includes cask ale too.

Metal container used for storing and dispensing pressurized liquids (like beer, for example). Kegs come in a range of standard sizes (listed below). A single hole centered on the top of the keg and a two-way valve allows liquids (like beer) to be added and removed from the keg.

Keg Beer
Non-pasteurized beer that is dispensed from a keg through the use of gas pressure.

Keg Volume and Pressure for Standard US Kegs

½ Keg
Holds 15.5 gallons or about 165 12-ounce bottles
Weighs 161-pounds, full
23 3/8″ high with a 16″ diameter

¼ Keg
Holds 7.75 gallons or about 82 12-ounce bottles
Weighs 87-pounds, full
13 7/8″ high with a 16″ diameter

1/6 Keg
Holds 5 gallons or about 54 12-ounce bottles
Weighs 55-pounds, full
23 3/8″ high with an 11″ diameter

Note: US keg dimensions may vary slightly by keg manufacturer and brewery. European kegs vary in size, but are similar to US sizes.

The next post in the Draft Beer 101 Series will focus on Pressure in your Draft System. Check back soon!



  • spank May 1, 2009 @ 12:25pm

    1/2 keg is only 12 – 13 inches high?? interesting 😉

  • Hannah May 1, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Haha, how’d that get in there? Thanks for catching my finger slip!

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