How big is a pony keg?

A pony keg, also known as a quarter barrel, is a small keg that holds around 7.75 gallons or 29.34 liters of beer. Pony kegs are commonly used for parties, picnics, and other small gatherings where a full-size keg may be too large. But exactly how big is a pony keg?

The Dimensions of a Pony Keg

A standard pony keg stands 23.3 inches tall with a diameter of 16.12 inches. Laid on its side, a pony keg measures 23.25 inches long by 16.12 inches wide. In terms of volume, as mentioned above, a pony keg holds 7.75 gallons or 29.34 liters.

To visualize the size, a pony keg is about two-thirds the height of a full size keg and about half the volume. It’s small enough to be lifted and moved by one person but large enough to provide beer for a medium-sized gathering.

Weight When Full and Empty

When completely filled with beer, a pony keg weighs approximately 47 pounds (21 kg). When empty, the keg itself weighs around 15-20 pounds (6.8-9 kg). The weight varies slightly depending on the material the keg is made from – aluminum or stainless steel are common materials.

So a full keg is quite heavy, while an empty one is light enough for one person to carry around. Keep this in mind when stocking up for a party!

Amount of Beer in a Pony Keg

As noted, a standard pony keg holds 7.75 gallons or 29.34 liters of beer. Here is how much beer that equates to depending on cup size:

Cup Size Amount
16 oz pint 124 pints
12 oz bottle/can 165 bottles/cans
10 oz glass 195 glasses
5 oz taster 388 tasters

As you can see, even though a pony keg is smaller than a full size keg, it still holds a considerable amount of beer – enough for a medium to large gathering, depending on serving sizes.

Comparing to Other Keg Sizes

To put the pony keg size in context, here’s how it compares to some other common keg sizes:

Keg Size Total Volume
Pony Keg 7.75 gallons
Quarter Keg 7.75 gallons
Half Barrel 15.5 gallons
Full Keg/Barrel 31 gallons

So a pony keg contains half as much beer as a full-size keg. Quarter keg and pony keg are in fact the same size, just different names. As you move up to a half barrel and full barrel, the capacity significantly increases.

Advantages of a Pony Keg

There are a few key advantages to choosing a pony keg over a larger keg size:

More Manageable Size & Weight

At around 24 inches tall and less than 50 pounds when full, a pony keg is much easier to transport and maneuver compared to a large, heavy full size keg.

Right Amount for Smaller Parties

For gatherings of 25-50 people, a pony keg is a perfect amount of beer. You reduce the risk of having too much leftover.

Lower Cost

Obviously, a smaller amount of beer costs less than a large keg. Pony kegs are an affordable option.

Takes Up Less Room

A pony keg can easily fit in a refrigerator or cooler, great for keeping the beer chilled at home or transporting to a party.

Easy to Finish

With just over 120 pints of beer, a pony keg is a manageable amount that won’t go stale before it’s finished.

Where to Get a Pony Keg

Wondering where you can get your hands on a pony keg? Here are some options:

Liquor Stores

Many local liquor stores will stock and sell pony kegs. Call ahead to check availability. Prices can range from $65-$100 depending on brand.

Beer Distributors

Beer distributor warehouses are a great place to browse and buy kegs. Expect discounts for buying in bulk or choosing less popular brews.

Directly from a Brewery

Support local breweries by buying a pony keg directly from them. Ask what sizes they have and how far in advance you need to reserve one.


Numerous online beer and liquor delivery services offer pony kegs. Shop variety packs or build your own custom order. Remember to account for shipping costs on heavier kegs.

Serving Beer from a Pony Keg

Once you secure a pony keg, here are some tips for serving beer from it:

Chill Properly Before Serving

Always chill a keg to around 38-42°F before tapping and serving. This prevents foaming issues. Store in a refrigerator or use a chilling sleeve/bucket.

Use CO2 for Best Taste

For ultimate beer taste, dispense from the keg using a CO2 system. This prevents oxygenation as the keg empties. Rent or buy a pony keg CO2 tapper.

Consider a Tub/Ice Bath

For outdoor gatherings, set the keg in a large tub filled with ice to keep cold. The drain allows removing melted ice water.

Clean Lines & Replace Couplers

Always sanitize beer lines and replace the keg coupler between kegs for best results. Dirty lines can ruin the taste.

Offer Different Tap Beverages

Consider offering 1-2 different beers on tap from multiple pony kegs. Or do a beer + wine combo. More variety for guests!

Fun Facts About Pony Kegs

To wrap up, here are some interesting pony keg facts:

  • Pony keg is believed to be a term from the early 1900s referencing the “pony express” mail delivery system.
  • The smallest keg size is a “sixth barrel” at 5.23 gallons. The largest is a “hogshead” at 126 gallons.
  • Imported beers like Heineken and Guinness often come in smaller kegs around 11-13 gallons.
  • Pony kegs are also called quarter barrels because they are approximately 1/4 the size of a standard full barrel.
  • The tap protruding from the top of a keg is known as the “spear”
  • Factory new kegs are pressure-tested up to 130-180 psi before being approved.
  • Aluminum kegs first appeared in the 1960s and now outnumber traditional steel kegs.
  • After use, pony kegs can be returned to sellers for a deposit refund, just like bottles and cans in some states.
  • In the UK, a “pin” is the equivalent size keg to an American pony keg at 4.5 imperial gallons.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to stock up for a small to medium sized gathering, a pony keg is a perfect option. At around 24 inches tall and 30 pounds when full with 7.75 gallons of brew, a pony keg provides an affordable amount of beer that’s easier to manage logistically than a full size keg.

Be sure to store and dispense the beer properly, and clean all equipment between uses for the best tasting pint. With some simple planning, a pony keg is a fun way to kick any party up a notch! Cheers!

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