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I want to build an all-grain setup using 1/2bbl (15gal) kegs (keggle, HLT and MT/LT). I really didn't imagine that sourcing them would be such a difficult task, but after a couple of weeks of calling around and trolling eBay, I've come to the conclusion that you just need to be "in the right place at the right time", as they say. The ones I've found on eBay are nearly $100 with shipping. I've always read that most can be had for around $30-$40. Is $100 the going rate or is there a secret to sourcing kegs that I should know about?

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I have 5 kegs I got legally from a distributor that leases kegs to breweries. Each keg had cracked or damaged tops, which rendered them useless for kegging anymore. I cut the tops out myself and I plan to resell them on Craigslist for ~$60-$80 each. They'll be first come first serve. So I think timing is everything. –  brewchez Nov 9 '11 at 1:52

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

A keg weighs just over 30lbs, so keep in mind it can have a good chunk of value simply as stainless scrap (at $1.5/lb it's worth $50). This will set a floor price.

Making friends at a friendly neighbourhood microbrewery, if you are fortunate enough to have one, and buying one of their no-longer-serviceable kegs is one good way to go.

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Many scrapyards will not accept them (because so many are stolen), so this price does not necessarily set a floor, but it is a good indicator. –  Dustin Rasener Nov 10 '11 at 11:52

I believe the $30-40 figure is when a brewery owns their own kegs, and wants to dispose of non-functional (by serving standards) kegs at near scrap cost. Ask your local breweries about their keg supply.

If the kegs are owned by a 3rd party, try them. For instance, it seems like Microstar owns most of the kegs around here, so I called them; they send them to Adventures in Homebrewing (homebrewing.org), who outfits them as mash/brew kettles; I'm getting another one delivered tomorrow, in fact.

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Craigslist is probably your best bet for finding used kegs. The ethics on it aren't exactly pristine (kegs are owned by the brewery and only "leased" to the consumer, usually with a deposit to ensure their return) but you can usually find ones where people have already lost their deposit on for the deposit cost or less.

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I bought one from the local beer store for the price of the keg deposit ($50). They often have them.

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Does this mean you bought a keg of beer and kept it forfeiting your deposit, or you actually have a local liquor store that sold you an empty keg for the cost of the deposit? –  brewchez Nov 9 '11 at 1:48
    
no, I have a local beer store that sold me the empty keg for the cost of the deposit. –  baka Nov 9 '11 at 1:48
    
Did the keg belong to them or a brewery? It's pretty unusual for stores to won kegs. –  Denny Conn Nov 9 '11 at 2:15
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Maybe he just doesn't realize they're not his to sell. I just returned from Sierra Nevada Beer Camp and they talked about what a huge problem keg theft is for them. Kegs cost them over $110 each. (edited to add "not") –  Denny Conn Nov 9 '11 at 16:27
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If the deposit isn't enough to motivate folks to return them, maybe they should charge a higher deposit. –  Dustin Rasener Nov 10 '11 at 11:54

You can get new ones for $90 (new sanke keg link), or you can buy pre-converted stuff at brew magic for more money, of course. Recent Craig's List prices in NC for kegs with questionable heritage has been $30 to $50. The story behind these kegs was that the brewery rep was repeatedly called to pick-up the kegs, and the bar was out of space, so they went to whoever showed-up with the deposit money.

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