How much does a 5 gallon keg serve?

A 5 gallon keg, also known as a 1/6 barrel, is a common size for kegs of beer and other beverages. But how many servings does this size hold? The answer depends on a few factors.

Serving Size

The most important factor in determining how much a 5 gallon keg will serve is the serving size. A typical beer serving is 12 ounces. With 128 ounces in a gallon, a 5 gallon keg contains 640 ounces. At 12 ounces per serving, a 5 gallon keg holds about 53 twelve-ounce servings.

However, serving sizes can vary. Some people may pour lighter 8-10 ounce pours, while others may go bigger with 16-20 ounce cups. The serving size can make a big difference in how far a keg will go.

8 Ounce Servings

With 8 ounce servings, a 5 gallon keg would yield approximately 80 servings.

10 Ounce Servings

10 ounce pours would result in about 64 servings from a 5 gallon keg.

12 Ounce Servings

A standard 12 ounce serving size gets about 53 drinks out of a 5 gallon keg.

16 Ounce Servings

At 16 ounces per pour, you would get around 40 servings from 5 gallons.

20 Ounce Servings

With bigger 20 ounce servings, a 5 gallon keg would yield approximately 32 drinks.

Alcohol Percentage

The alcohol percentage of the beer or other beverage can also impact how far a keg will go. A higher alcohol beer like an IPA may get fewer pours than a lower alcohol beer like a lager or pale ale. People tend to drink less of higher alcohol drinks in one sitting. Here is an estimate of servings based on alcohol content:

Beverage Type Alcohol % Estimated 12 oz Servings
Light Lager 4-5% 55
Pale Ale 5-6% 53
IPA 6-8% 48
Imperial IPA 8-12% 40

As you can see, higher alcohol drinks like an Imperial IPA with 8-12% alcohol will net fewer servings than something lighter like a pale ale or lager.

Other Factors

Some other things that can affect the number of servings in a 5 gallon keg include:

  • Foam – Lots of foam on each pour will reduce the amount of liquid in each serving.
  • Spills and waste – Any beer lost to spills or waste reduces the total servings.
  • Keg to glass ratio – Inevitable loss transferring from keg to glass means a few ounces less.
  • Cleaning lines – Flushing keg lines to change taps can waste beer.

Taking these into account, actual servings may be 5-10% less than the rough estimates.

Keg Size Comparisons

Here’s how other common keg sizes compare to the 5 gallon in terms of total servings:

Keg Size Total Servings
Slim Quarter (2.5 gallons) 26
Pony (7.75 gallons) 82
Half Barrel (15.5 gallons) 160

The quarter barrel (5 gallons) is a popular size for casual gatherings, while a full half barrel keg may be better for large parties. The pony keg provides a good middle ground between the two.

Keg Cost Comparison

When estimating the cost per ounce of keg sizes, smaller kegs tend to be more expensive per ounce, while larger kegs provide more volume savings. Here is a cost comparison of some common keg sizes.

Keg Size Typical Cost Cost per Ounce
Slim Quarter (2.5 gallons) $55 $0.22
Quarter (5 gallons) $100 $0.16
Pony (7.75 gallons) $150 $0.13
Half Barrel (15.5 gallons) $200 $0.08

Buying larger kegs generally provides more value per ounce. But keep in mind you need to have enough people to help drink all that beer!

Keg Size Recommendations

So what is the best keg size for different occasions?

Slim quarter (2.5 gallons)

Good size for:

  • Smaller get togethers of 5-15 people
  • Tailgating or other outdoor events where portability is key
  • Trying out new craft beers without committing to 5 gallons
  • Events where a full keg would be too much

Quarter barrel (5 gallons)

Good size for:

  • Backyard BBQs, family reunions, birthday parties
  • Grad parties
  • Weddings or anniversary parties
  • Corporate events

The quarter barrel is the most popular keg size for casual gatherings of 25-50 people. Provides the right balance of volume and variety.

Pony (7.75 gallons)

Good size for:

  • Large parties with 50-75 guests
  • Sporting events like golf tournaments
  • Community events

The pony keg is a good in-between size when a 5 gallon keg might not be enough but a full half barrel is too much.

Half Barrel (15.5 gallons)

Good size for:

  • Weddings with 100+ guests
  • Large corporate events
  • Festivals or block parties

When you need to serve beer to big crowds, the half barrel is the way to go. Just be sure you have enough help drinking all that beer!

Tips for Maximizing Your Keg

Here are some tips to help make the most out of your keg and avoid waste:

  • Set the regulator correctly to avoid foamy pours.
  • Chill beer to optimal temperature, usually 35-42°F depending on style.
  • Replace couplers if they get sticky and slow down pours.
  • Clean tap lines regularly to minimize loss transferring from keg to glass.
  • Shut off keg when not in use to avoid leaks or accidental pours.
  • Finish keg within 2-4 days for best flavor.


A 5 gallon keg is a versatile choice that can serve anywhere from 25 to over 50 people, depending on serving size and other factors. While larger kegs offer greater volume savings, the quarter barrel provides the ideal balance of portability and capacity for most casual gatherings and small parties. With some simple best practices, you can maximize every last pour out of a 5 gallon keg.

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