The Importance of Keg Repatriation

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Before you start cutting into that sanke keg to create a mash tun, we need to talk about an issue that is negatively affecting breweries across the country: keg repatriation—more specifically the lack thereof.

The Problem

Many breweries package and distribute their beers in kegs to be served by the glass at pubs or sold at the liquor store. The problem is, many of these kegs are not making it back to the brewery. This means the brewery has to spend more money replacing the lost kegs in order to continue making their kegged beer available to the public.

But why is this happening? One of the biggest issues is the lack of education around proper keg practices, which is where comes into play.

Many beer drinkers operate under the assumption that the deposit they give to the liquor store when picking up a keg acts as payment for ownership. This is false. Others believe they can buy and sell kegs at a scrapyard or on Craigslist while operating under the law. This is also false. Some people simply don’t know where to return a keg if they surpass the due date of return to the liquor store.

Illegal Kegs in Homebrewing

It is not uncommon for homebrewers to re-fabricate kegs to use them as mash tuns, hot liquor tanks and/or boil kettles. They indeed work great for all three, but many homebrewers are surprised to learn they may have illegally acquired and tampered with the property of a brewery.

Most homebrewers use kegs they picked up as on ads like craigslist. These may appear to be legitimate sales of property, but typically aren’t unless the proper paper work is involved. Others may decide to use the keg they never returned to the liquor store. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake, other times…well we hope it’s always a mistake!

The Solution

The solution is simply not using kegs that have not been legally purchased from the source brewery or keg manufacturer. This will include acquiring the original title of ownership. Without acquiring the title in a keg purchase, you are likely illegally obtaining the vessel.

If you do find yourself in possession of a keg that was not legally obtained and would like to get it back to the owner, you can head over to for a few options on making sure it’s getting back in the right hands.

To learn more about the importance of keg repatriation, visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of!

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