Craft Beer Keg vs Cask vs Polypin: Which is Right for Your Pub? | Great Newsome Brewery
If you are opening a new bar/pub or looking to increase trade in your existing one then serving good craft beer is vital. Craft beer is becoming increasingly popular with pub and bar owners looking to find the correct craft beer dispensing method for them. There are three main ways to dispense craft beer: from a keg, from a cask, or from a polypin. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice for your pub will depend on your specific needs and preferences.
Kegs are a common way to dispense craft beer. As kegs are pressurised containers they keep the beer fresh and carbonated. Kegs are easy to use and maintain, and they can be used to dispense a wide variety of beer styles.
Advantages of kegs:
- Easy to use and maintain
- Can be used to dispense a wide variety of beer styles
- Keep the beer fresh and carbonated for longer
- Are relatively inexpensive
- No need for a cellar to store the beer
Disadvantages of kegs:
- Can take up a lot of space
- Require a CO2 system
- Beer can lose its flavour over time if not stored properly
- Don’t suit some traditional British beer styles
Casks are traditional British containers that are used to dispense cask-conditioned beer. Cask-conditioned beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, and it is secondary fermented in the cask. This gives the beer a unique mouth feel, body and subtle aromas. If you are thinking of hosting a beer festival then take a look at our quick guide here.
Advantages of casks:
- Provide a unique flavour, mouthfeel and aroma for the beer
- Can be used to dispense a wide variety of British beer styles
- Are relatively inexpensive
- Wide variety of choice from many independent breweries
Disadvantages of casks:
- Require more skill and experience to use and maintain than kegs. Here’s our guide to looking after cask beer.
- Cask beer has a shorter shelf life than keg beer
- Can only be used to dispense cask-conditioned beer
- Requires a temperature controlled cellar or cupboard to maintain quality. Here’s our guide to temperature of beer.
Polypins are plastic containers or a bag in a box that are used to dispense craft beer. Typically they are available in 10 & 20litre sizes. They are easy to handle and store. Polypins are a good option for pubs and bars that have limited space or that need to be able to move their beer easily. Check out our full guide to polypins here.
Advantages of polypins:
- Are smaller and more portable than kegs
- Do not require a CO2 system
- Beer can be kept fresh for longer periods of time than cask if kept cool
- Can be dispensed through beer engines like cask beer
- Good for low weekly volume sales
Disadvantages of polypins:
- Must be stored in a cold or cool environment
- Only a limited variety of beer styles available in them
- Per pint more expensive than cask
The best way to dispense craft beer depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you have limited space or need to be able to move your beer easily, then polypins are a good option. If you want to provide your customers with the unique quality, flavour, mouthfeel and aroma, then good cask beer is a good choice. And if you want to dispense a wide variety of beer styles and keep them fresh, then kegs are the best option.
When choosing a dispensing method for craft beer, there are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Cost: Kegs are the most expensive option, followed by polypins and casks.
- Space: Kegs and casks can take up a lot of space, so be sure to consider this when making your decision.
- Variety: Keg and casks can be used to dispense the widest variety of beer styles.
- Freshness: Polypins can keep beer fresh for the longer than cask but not as long as keg.
- Skill and experience: Casks require more skill and experience to use and maintain than kegs or polypins but offer that great unique British beer taste.
Ultimately, the best way to decide which dispensing method is right for your pub or bar is to weigh the pros and cons of each option and consider your specific needs.