A few liquor stores and scrap yards will purchase empty beer kegs, but because of rampant beer keg theft, fewer vendors are willing to purchase them. In most cases, an empty beer keg needs to be returned to the vendor who originally filled and sold it.
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Where to Sell Empty Beer Kegs
If you have an empty keg on your hands, there are some commercial liquor stores and outlets where you can sell it for cash or in-store credit. In most cases, however, if you rented a full keg for an event or party, you’ll need to return the empty keg to the location where you got it. (For example, see the keg policy at Beverage King.)
Usually, the provider will require a refundable deposit at the time of the rental to ensure the safe return of the keg, which is a valuable commodity for the business. In fact, keg theft and keg sales have become such a problem that several states have passed keg registration legislation, which requires identification and contact information to be affixed to the shell to help avoid illicit trading. This means, you should make sure the empty keg you have isn’t stolen merchandise before you attempt to sell it to one of the vendors listed below. In addition to this list, you might want to check with smaller, locally-owned and operated liquor vendors in your area.
1. Liquor Barn
- Accepted keg types: Bud, Coors, Miller, Fat Tire, and 25 other types, so long as they’re “current style” keg shells
- What it pays: $20 per keg; free pickup for multiple kegs
- Contact: Liquor Barn is located in Englewood, Co.
2. Total Wine & More
- Accepted keg types: Any current keg shell
- What it pays: $30 in-store credit
- Contact: Total Wine & More has stores in 21 states; find your nearest Total Wine & More
3. Craigslist or eBay
- Accepted keg types: Any
- What it pays: Varies; some keg styles are posted for more than $100
- Contact: Post an ad Craigslist or eBay
Where to Sell Empty Kegs as Scrap
Beer kegs are generally made of stainless steel or aluminum, both of which are valuable metals that can be sold as scrap. Although scrap metal prices fluctuate, both aluminum and stainless steel can fetch around 40 cents per pound. A half-barrel, or 15.5-gallon, keg weighs about 30 pounds empty, which means it would be worth about $12 as scrap.
- 1/6 barrel keg: 16.5 pounds; $6.60
- 1/4 barrel keg: 22 pounds; $8.80
- 1/2 barrel keg: 30 pounds; $12
- 50-liter keg: 28 pounds; $11.20
- Cornelius keg: 9 pounds; $3.60
- Pony keg: 22 pounds; $8.80
Keep in mind, because of the above-mentioned issues with keg theft, many scrap metal yards and collectors don’t take beer kegs.
Where to Get Empty Kegs
If you have an empty beer keg, it’s usually because you rented a full one for a party or event, and you need to return the shell to the original vendor. If you found an empty beer keg in a Dumpster or elsewhere, there’s a chance it’s stolen (or rightfully belongs to a vendor), and selling it could be a problem. But there are legitimate places to purchase empty beer kegs, both for individuals looking for a single keg and for industry professionals wanting to start a liquor business. Here’s where to find them:
For Private Hobbyists
Walmart sells empty kegs in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, starting at about $50. You might also be able to get one at an affordable price from a local, privately-owned liquor store, such as West Seattle’s The Beer Junction.
For Industry Professionals
If you’re looking to buy several kegs to use for business purposes, purchasing them piecemeal won’t be cost-effective. You should source your kegs from a dedicated manufacturer, such as Gopher Kegs, to get a deal on bulk orders.
Empty beer kegs can be sold for cash or in-store credit at some liquor stores or scrapped at certain junk and metal yards. But, since keg theft is a serious problem, you might be turned down when trying to sell a keg. To purchase an empty keg, try Walmart, a local liquor store, or a dedicated manufacturer like Gopher Kegs.