Are Used Kegs Running Out??

Updated: 5/1/2024

The containers we call Ball Lock and Pin Lock Kegs come from the soda industry.  Also called Cornelius Kegs, Corny Kegs and Corney Kegs, they were originally intended to store and distribute soda pre-mix.  The big soda companies decided on different style containers for their pre-mix.  Pepsi landed on the Ball Lock style while Coke uses the Pin Lock style.

Homebrewers have since re-purposed these as homebrew beer kegs.

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Are Used Kegs Running Out?

Keg retailers purchase lots of used kegs from various sources. Bottlers that have moved away from pre-mixed soda tanks, resellers who have come across lots of kegs and… wherever they come from.

For years we’ve been hearing that supplies of used kegs would be drying up. Up until recently this hasn’t been much of an issue. Although we’ve seen a slow uptick in pricing, kegs were seemingly plentiful and regularly well priced.

I attribute this mostly to the availability of high quality new ball lock kegs. Makers of new kegs upped their game as far as quality and price.  To the point where new ball lock keg prices can, at times, be similar to used ball lock keg prices. I think new keg price and quality helped stave off the disappearance of used kegs for a long time. In my opinion, the threat was real, but new ball locks helped to stretch out used keg supply

And then… Pin Locks…

The first real shake up we saw in 2022. It was a quick reversal in keg pricing. Pin locks had always, generally, been cheaper than ball locks. As the year progressed, this flipped.

Some pin lock offerings to consider:

I’ve also heard directly from one major seller that used kegs are getting harder to find and pin locks in particular are extremely difficult to find in bulk.

It’s clear to me that we’re finally hitting an availability wall when it comes to reseller quantities of used kegs, especially pin lock kegs.

One bright spot on the subject of pin locks is that cornykeg has introduced a NEW pin lock option. This is the first new pin lock option that I’m aware of being readily available…

new pin lock kegs

One thing to consider is that these are basically ball lock keg dimensions, so if you need a shorter keg, used would be the way to go.

Rumors and Guesses…

An anonymous tipster – Let’s be friends!  8 Ways to Connect with HBF – shared a tip with me that according to one of the top people at one of the largest homebrew shops in the country… Used corny kegs will be sold out within the next year.

From the tipster: ‘[company name redacted] owns the largest and one of the only remaining warehouse/stockpile of used corny kegs. They have searched for and have been unable to locate a new source for bulk used kegs. Unless a few trailers of abandoned kegs are found in a corn field somewhere, 2023 is likely to be the last year large quantities of used kegs will be available at retail.”

This is second hand information and I don’t have a named source. Even if I did this is a guess on that person’s part.

I don’t think anyone is saying that used keg availability will go to 0 within 1 year. What I’m talking about is the era of large caches of used kegs becoming available for resale. Something like what we’re seeing with MoreBeer’s pin lock offering. Do they have pin locks available? Yes. How much do they cost? $85.

Considering everything, I think that supplies are tightening up and I would not be surprised if this insiders rumored opinion comes to pass.

Update – 12/7/22: 

Within two days of this article going live, AIH, generally one of the best places to get a keg deal, increased their ball lock prices.

As of 3/1/23 these kegs no longer qualify for free shipping. That’s about $15 (for me) varies based on location. In all single kegs have gone up about $25 since 12/22.

I believe that we’re hitting a crossroads when it comes to used kegs. This is the best ball lock keg deal going on as of this posting. It’s my guess that used keg pricing will continue to trend upward. I think we’ll see used kegs in the $60 range in 2023. All that to say, in my opinion, now is the time to buy kegs.

Update – 12/9/22:

Another timely bit of info. MoreBeer’s 12 Deals of Christmas Sale Day 9, discounts kegs and kegging systems by 15%. Great, dandy, fine. The interesting thing is… no used kegs are included in the mix. 

Update – 12/25/22:

As of this update ALL used ball lock keg offerings at MoreBeer are SOLD OUT. I’ve been keeping an eye on these and this has been the case for weeks. Complete Lineup of Kegs at MoreBeer << for current availability.

Update – 3/30/23:

This keg from MoreBeer finally came back in stock after a long period of being sold out. It sold out in less than a day. Used Corny Keg – Ball Lock 5 gal. KEG430

Update – 5/8/23:

AIH’s Pin Lock prices have climbed considerably. MoreBeer is back in stock on some of their ball lock offerings. All Kegs at MoreBeer

Update – 8/23/23:

AIH has COMPLETELY REMOVED pages for their used ball lock offerings both singles and four packs. Over the years, these offerings have been some of the most reliable and have often been the best deal around.

These are the pages where these offerings used to live

Update – 8/1/24:

AIH and AHS’s 5 gallon ball lock offerings are back in stock! These had been completely sold out for quite a while to the point that their product pages were removed.

As of this update, the four packs are still out of stock.

Update – 4/9/24:

Another one bites the dust… Well, actually two more bite the dust.

MoreBeer’s Used Corny Keg – Ball Lock 5 gal. KEG430 has been discontinued to the point that the product page now goes to a “the page you have requested could not be found” error page.

This is the offering that’s featured in Our Hands on Review and in Our Keg Rebuild Post

The good news is that four packs of this same offering are still available (AT LEAST AS OF THIS UPDATE)…. Kegs – 4 Pack KEG430A. As we’re seeing this can change quickly.

MoreBeer’s Rebuilt Used Corny Keg – Ball Lock 5 gal. KEG420 has also been discontinued to the point that the product page now goes to a “the page you have requested could not be found” error page.

Recommendation: Now is the time to buy used kegs

I think now is the time to buy keg. Pricing and availability have continued to be an issue. I see no reason to think that it will get better. My guess is that today’s availability and pricing is, generally speaking, the best we’ll see.

Listings that are still available, some may be currently sold out. Discontinuations are still in the list and crossed out for reference.

Keg Deals

keg deals

Rebuild Your Kegs!

Keg Deals!

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Keg Reviews!

What to Look for When Buying Used Kegs

Buy from a quality supplier that pressure tests kegs and guarantees kegs will hold pressure.  Used kegs can come in a variety of conditions, some with soda residue still in them.  You’ll definitely want to clean and sanitize the kegs, but also plan on installing new o-rings if your seller hasn’t already done so.  Even if they are free of cracks, they will have a soda smell that won’t go away with cleaning.

Also: Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | Recent Keg Finds

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