Keg Storage: Optimizing & Choosing A Keg Storage System

Last Updated: 11/21/2023

In the dynamic landscape of food and beverage warehousing, the selection of an efficient keg storage system is paramount for breweries, bars, and warehouses. This comprehensive guide explores the fundamental aspects of keg storage, emphasizing the importance of maintaining beer quality and operational efficiency. 

In this article, we delve into key considerations such as ideal storage conditions, temperature control, protection from environmental factors, inventory management, and safety practices. Furthermore, we explain keg storage solutions, including high-density and cold storage options, shedding light on their benefits and potential to transform the keg storage landscape in the beverage industry. Additionally, we address the critical legal and compliance considerations that businesses must navigate to ensure the responsible handling and storage of beer kegs. Read this article to learn how to optimize your keg storage practices while making informed choices to elevate your operations to new heights.

The Fundamentals of Keg Storage: Maintaining Quality and Efficiency

Keg storage is an integral component of any operation involved in the production and distribution of beer. It plays a pivotal role in preserving the taste, quality, and carbonation of the beer, while also contributing to efficient inventory management. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the basics of keg storage, offering insights into why it matters and how businesses can optimize this critical aspect of their operations.

Why Is Proper Keg Storage Important?

At its core, the primary objective of keg storage is to safeguard the quality of the beer. The beer inside kegs is sensitive to environmental factors including fluctuations in temperature, exposure to light, and other storage conditions can profoundly impact its flavor and carbonation. Proper keg storage minimizes these risks and ensures that the beer tastes as intended when it reaches the customer’s glass.

Beyond quality preservation, efficient keg storage systems are essential for businesses to manage their inventory effectively. This includes organizing kegs, tracking stock levels, and implementing rotation strategies. By optimizing keg storage, businesses can streamline their operations, reduce waste, and ensure that the freshest beer is consistently served to their patrons.

Selecting the Ideal Storage Location

The keg storage location is a critical consideration. Proper keg storage should provide a controlled environment with a consistent temperature, ideally within the range of 34-38°F (1-3°C) [1]. Areas prone to temperature fluctuations, such as near doors or windows, should be avoided. Maintaining a stable temperature is essential for preventing beer spoilage and maintaining its quality.

When selecting the ideal keg storage location, it’s important to assess the available space for keg storage and plan accordingly. In smaller storage areas, vertical storage solutions can be particularly beneficial. These maximize space utilization and allow for efficient keg retrieval.

Maintaining Optimal Temperature

It is crucial to install temperature monitoring systems within the storage area. Regularly check and calibrate temperature control equipment to ensure that the environment remains within the desired temperature range. Consistency in temperature control is key to preserving beer quality.

In larger-scale operations, consider investing in climate-controlled storage rooms or cold storage racking systems. These systems are designed to maintain temperature consistency, providing an ideal environment for keg storage, even in larger storage areas.

Protecting Kegs from Light and Heat

Light Exposure: Protect kegs from both direct sunlight and artificial light sources. UV rays can have a detrimental effect on the beer’s flavor and quality. Utilize opaque covers or choose storage areas with minimal light exposure to shield kegs from light.

Heat Control: Avoid storing kegs near heat sources, as excessive heat can lead to accelerated beer aging and spoilage. Heat control is particularly important during warmer seasons or in regions with high ambient temperatures.

Keg Sizes

There are several types of keg sizes with varying shapes and weights that could require a higher capacity or heavier duty rollers to support the weight. Kegs can weigh anywhere from 58 pounds (sixth barrel keg) to 161 pounds (half barrel, or typical keg size) and can be up to 2 ft high or 17” wide. Lane widths and heights need to be outfitted according to your inventory and the type of kegs you are storing.

Keg Chart for Keg Flow Rack

Inventory Management and Rotation Strategies

First-In, First-Out (FIFO): Implement a FIFO inventory rotation system to ensure that the oldest kegs are used first. This practice prevents beer from sitting too long in storage, reducing the risk of flavor degradation and ensuring that customers receive the freshest beer possible.

Be sure to properly label kegs with production dates and other relevant information. Implement inventory management software or systems to track keg status, rotation schedules, and other essential data. Accurate tracking facilitates efficient inventory management and reduces the likelihood of kegs going past their prime.

Keg Handling and Safety

Safe handling practices for kegs include staff training in safe keg handling practices to prevent injuries and damage to the kegs. This includes techniques for safely moving, stacking, and tapping kegs. Regularly inspect kegs for signs of damage, leaks, or corrosion & address any issues promptly to maintain keg integrity and prevent quality issues down the line.

Cold Storage Racking Solutions for Keg Management

If your storage requires a cooler environment, cold storage racking is recommended because it has greater frame strength and durability which allows it to better withstand impact in colder environments. Coolers often have limited space available, so it is imperative to optimize the space with your loading, storing and picking procedures. 

Keg Flow Storage: Gravity Flow Racking for Keg Storage

A keg flow system is a gravity racking system that can be outfitted to provide high-density storage for a high volume and variety of keg SKUs.

Understanding the specifications of your keg inventory is necessary when storing multiple SKUs. This ensures you maintain pick rates, especially in smaller, climate-controlled storage environments. Things to assess include:

  • What type and size of keg do you store?
  • What is the average quantity of SKUs being stored?
  • Does your storage environment require structural racking?
  • How do you replenish inventory once it’s picked?

Keg Flow System Specifications

Each keg flow lane can be designed to support first-in, first-out or first-in inventory management. Separate load and pick aisles are required for a first-in, first-out configuration. Using racking components from such systems as carton flow racking systems, kegs would be loaded from one side and glide to the other side for picking, like a carton flow configuration.

Mallard Keg Flow

Typical specifications for keg flow systems can store up to 8 kegs deep and 8 kegs wide per 96” bay. The kegs sit low in the lane and are guided by side rails that are configured to the height and size of the keg. In addition to side rails, keg flow requires a high roller stop to prevent the keg from falling forward once it reaches the discharge end of the system.

Each keg flow lane can be designed to support first-in, first-out or first-in inventory management. Separate load and pick aisles are required for a first-in, first-out configuration. Using racking components from such systems as carton flow racking systems, kegs would be loaded from one side and glide to the other side for picking, like a carton flow configuration.

Key Cold Storage & Structural Racking System Specifications

Using structural steel racking, as opposed to roll formed steel racking, is ideal for keg storage. Structural steel racking is a heavier-duty, solid-formed racking. Key benefits of structural racking for keg storage include:

Durability and Load Capacity:

Structural steel racking is built to last, with a robust framework capable of supporting substantial loads. This makes it well-suited for storing kegs, which can be heavy, especially when filled with beer. Additionally, it is more durable in the harsher, cooler environment.

Vertical Space Utilization:

One of the key advantages of structural racking is its ability to optimize vertical space. These systems allow businesses to stack kegs vertically, making efficient use of the storage area.

Vertical space utilization is essential, particularly when dealing with limited storage space.

Customization for Keg Dimensions:

Structural racking can be customized to accommodate kegs of various dimensions, including height, width, and weight. This flexibility ensures that the racking system is tailored to the specific keg inventory.

Adjustable shelving and racking components allow for easy customization as the keg inventory changes.

Preservation and Temperature Control:

While structural racking itself may not provide temperature control, it can be integrated with climate control systems to maintain the desired storage temperature.

This integration helps ensure that kegs remain at the ideal temperature, preserving the quality of the beer inside.

Accessibility and Organization:

Structural racking provides a well-organized storage environment, allowing for easy access and retrieval of kegs. This is crucial for efficient inventory management and rotation.

Employees can quickly locate and access kegs without the need to shift or disrupt the entire inventory.

Adaptable Design:

Structural racking systems are adaptable and can be expanded or reconfigured as the business’s keg storage needs evolve.

This adaptability allows breweries and bars to scale their storage capacity without significant disruptions.

Legal and Compliance Considerations for Keg Storage

Compliance with industry standards and regulations related to keg storage is a foundational requirement for any operation handling beer kegs. These regulations are in place to safeguard the health and safety of consumers and ensure the quality of the products being served. Here’s a closer look at what it entails:

Hygiene Regulations: The food and beverage industry, including breweries and bars, is subject to strict hygiene standards. Businesses must maintain a clean and sanitary environment, especially in areas where kegs are stored. Regular cleaning and sanitation procedures must be in place to prevent contamination of beer in kegs.

Safety Requirements: Kegs, whether full or empty, can be heavy and pose physical risks if not handled correctly. Compliance with safety regulations is vital to prevent workplace accidents. This includes proper training for staff in safe keg handling, storage, and transportation practices. Adequate storage equipment, such as sturdy racks and shelves, must be used to prevent kegs from falling or causing injury.

Quality Control: To maintain beer quality and ensure it meets consumer expectations, businesses must adhere to quality control standards. This includes monitoring temperature, light exposure, and storage conditions to prevent beer spoilage or flavor degradation.

Labeling and Traceability: Proper labeling and traceability of kegs are essential for tracking production dates, batch information, and product details. This information helps identify kegs that are reaching their recommended shelf life and need to be rotated out.

Regular Audits: Regulatory compliance isn’t a one-time effort; it’s an ongoing commitment. Regular audits of storage facilities should be conducted to confirm that all regulations are being followed. Any necessary adjustments or improvements should be promptly implemented to ensure ongoing compliance. Consulting with racking safety experts is a great way to audit & protect your operation.

By prioritizing compliance with these legal and regulatory standards, businesses not only demonstrate their commitment to quality and safety but also minimize the risk of legal issues that could arise from non-compliance. This adherence allows them to operate confidently, knowing they are meeting all regulatory standards related to keg storage and serving customers with the highest level of integrity and care.

Choose a storage system that’s developed around your keg operation 

Keg flow racking system designs safeguard inventory while providing a unique storage solution for the growing beer wholesaler and distribution industry. Our goal is to help you better understand your storage needs to maximize your space and optimize your order fulfillment. Fill out the ‘Submit Your Inquiry’ form and we’ll contact you to help you with any further questions or requirements you have.


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