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Beer Keg Tracking: How to Take Draft Beer Inventory

December 17, 2019
BinWise Staff
Liquor inventory software

While taking bar inventory, and especially beer keg tracking, is probably not your favorite thing to do, you gotta do it often. As a bar owner or manager, you know that your inventory is your bar’s most valuable asset. It is an investment of your bar’s cash and every dollar spent on inventory is a dollar that you can’t put towards other costs. Buying things without keeping track of them is a huge risk. It can cause you to lose some cash and damage your long-term bar profits.

Why You Need a Draft Beer Inventory System

Bar inventory has become a lot more complicated with the rise of craft beer. That forces you and many other bars to increase your beer selections—especially on draft.

Some bars cater to craft beer drinkers by offering as many as 40 different selections on tap. Others simply choose to rotate their taps more often. It's common for bars to keep about half of their draft beers the same at all times. All while rotating the other half of their taps.

You might be one of the many bar operators asking yourself, "how much does a keg weigh?" or “how many beers are in a half keg?” If so, here ya go!

How Do You Check a Keg?

There are essentially three ways to perform inventory on a beer keg. They are tenthing, using a keg scale, or using a keg checker. The best option for you will depend on your bar’s unique needs and your selection of draft beers. So don’t be afraid to try all of these out.  


The most common method to measure beer kegs used by bars is tenthing. It involves dividing the keg into ten equal parts and estimating how much beer is left inside. If you get an odd number, simply round it up to the nearest tenth for your inventory. If you feel that your keg is more than 40% full but not quite half full, round it to 50%. Then label it as 0.5 on your inventory sheet. For full cans and bottles, count them as single units.

This method is extremely subjective and if you have two people take inventory, you might end up getting two different measurements. It may work for calculating beer cost percentage. But it's not accurate enough to provide you with enough detail properly evaluate your draft beer performance.

Keg Scale

A better and more accurate way to perform inventory on your beer kegs is by using a keg scale. They can be purchased easily from most scale manufacturers as well as online. Make sure that you purchase a scale with a significant weight capacity. It should be able to accommodate a full ½ barrel keg at about 160 lbs. Each time you use your keg scale, test its accuracy first to avoid recording incorrect data later on.

When weighing your beer keg, you will also need to account for tare weight. While tare weight is not different for every brand, it varies based on your keg size. Simply weigh 3 to 4 kegs of a particular size and use this as the tare weight if you are unsure. There's one issue with using a keg scale to take inventory. Your staff needs to pick up kegs that are stacked on top of each other. That can be dangerous. Always train your bar staff on the correct procedure and safety cautions when doing this.

Keg Check

When it comes to beer keg tracking and draft beer inventory, keg checks are also a popular tool that many bars use. It has a torque wrench that is specially designed to measure the amount of beer left in a keg. However, we don’t recommend using this method if your bar carries a lot of smaller kegs, like the 1/4 barrel and 1/6 barrel kegs. You can use the keg scale option above for your smaller kegs. You won’t have to worry too much about the safety issue that we previously mentioned with smaller, lighter kegs.

Beer Keg Tracking with a Draft Beer Inventory System

In addition to taking your beer inventory, you also need to document your inventory and track it regularly. That's the best way to finally get a handle onyour beer and liquor inventory control.

If you are more of a pen-and-paper person, you can download our free bar inventory spreadsheet.  It doubles as a free beer inventory sheet, too! It can be used for beer keg tracking, wine, liquor, you name it. You can even customize it to fit your bar’s unique needs, and become the beer inventory spreadsheet you've always wanted.

Another way to streamline your inventory process is by using a bar inventory system like BinWise Pro. It helps you take your bar inventory—including beer kegs—quickly and accurately by converting the manual counting process to simple scanning. On top of that, it automates how to find variance and pour cost. And bunches of other numbers that you need to make profitable decisions.

Contact us to book a free demo! We'll walk you through how BinWise Pro can help you manage your bar more effectively and successfully.