Howdy, Chris here.
A few months back, we got a container full of plastic one-way Key Kegs. Now we can rock the export market with 30-liter kegs of Baird Beer! The first kegs went out to our US importer, the Shelton Brothers, for their event The Festival. We then filled 24 kegs for Australia, and are now preparing 24 more for Canada. For a little brewery like us (and make no mistake about it, we still are very small), that’s a lot of beer to put on a pallet (and a lot for the little fork-lift-that-could to move around).
The Key Kegs arrived on a cool rainy day back in March. The task of unloading the truck was left to me and General Manager John. Luckily empty Key Kegs are light, so it wasn’t trouble to get them out of the container.
When we’re ready to fill the kegs, we put Baird Beer tape around the top and then put a label on to identify the beer inside. The main “issue” with these kegs from our side is that they have to be filled upside down. Kind of a pain in the butt.
But why, you may ask, do they have to be filled upside down? The answer is in the design of the kegs. Key Kegs consist of an outer shell of hard plastic and an inner bag which contains the beer. Filling while the keg is sitting upright puts extra stress on the bag and it may become damaged; having the keg upside down means the bag will fill slowly and gently from the bottom. No damage, no sweat — other than to the brewer who has to stand on his head to fill them!
The beer is served from the keg by applying CO2 pressure to the outer shell, which in effect squeezes the beer out of the bag (rather than pushing it out, as is the case in standard stainless kegs). What this means to the beer drinker is that the beer inside the keg is never touched by external CO2, which further means that you get the beer as the brewer intended it — softer carbonation for styles that deserve it, more carbonation for those beers that call for it.
For us this design means an extra challenge. Since we naturally carbonate all our beers by adding priming sugar at kegging/bottling, we have to make sure that we get it right — there’s no way to correct for an undercarbonated or overcarbonated keg! But we at Baird thrive under pressure! And we’re confident that you will love the results.
Once we get Canada’s kegs out of the way, where’s the next place we’ll send them? New Zealand? Singapore? Hong Kong? The UK? Sweden? Stay tuned. In the meantime, drink good beer.