I was given a pair of Virgils kegs with root beer still in them, and I've been wanting to use them for homebrewing. I was at a brewery tour a little while ago and I was told that it's nearly impossible to get the taste of root beer out of the keg, and that it wouldn't be a good idea to use them for brewing. Is this the case? Is there a way to clean all the flavor and junk out from the root beer keg?

The kegs are in very good condition, I just don't want to put my beer inside something that's going to mess with the flavor.


  • 1
    Could you describe what kind of kegs they are? Standard Sanke kegs or Corny kegs (soda keg) or plastic kegs or what? Also, what are they made of, are they stainless steel or are they plastic....some details and we can probably answer the question.
    – TinCoyote
    May 26, 2011 at 18:37
  • 2
    They are 5 gallon sanke kegs, made of stainless steel.
    – dankest
    May 26, 2011 at 18:42

2 Answers 2


I think I would replace all of the seals and soak the kegs in hot Oxyclean Free or PBW for a few days. Maybe rinse and refill with that a couple of times. Then I'd just use them with strong flavored beers, or beers that would go well with the root-beer flavor for a couple of batches. If you don't notice any off-flavors, move to more subtle brews. If you do, soak them in cleaner some more, rinse, repeat. Or just use them for christmas ales & spice beers.

caveat: I haven't actually dealt with this problem, I'm just skeptical of the claim that those flavors can't be removed.

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    Baka's got this one. If they are Sanke kegs, an overnight soak in PBW will make them whistle-clean. Upvoted.
    – TinCoyote
    May 26, 2011 at 19:36
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    Cool, thanks! I tried oxyclean, but the smell came back. I'm going to soak them overnight, and then try PBW.
    – dankest
    Aug 20, 2011 at 17:43
  • @dankest Did you also replace the seals? I'm sure that you can get the smell out of stainless, but any soft parts will probably be a lost cause. Aug 27, 2011 at 14:16

A strong, hot solution of baking soda and water is very effective at removing odors. Rubber parts should be replaced.

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