Reviving the Party Ball Beer: A Tribute to the Ultimate Festive Keg

Looking to tap into the nostalgia of party ball beer? This piece unravels the allure that made it a popular choice for revelers, examines the causes of its disappearance, and probes the intriguing possibility of a return.

Key Takeaways

  • Party balls were once a big hit for their convenient size and built-in taps, holding about 55 beers, perfect for large parties back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
  • Their popularity declined due to the rise of craft beers, environmental concerns over non-recyclable materials, and production challenges.
  • There’s a nostalgic affection for party balls, and with today’s focus on retro trends, there’s a chance for a comeback if modernized with sustainable materials and innovative taps.

The Party Ball Beer Phenomenon: A Blast from the Past

During the golden age of beer balls, these spherical kegs were a party favorite. Their beach-ball-like design coupled with their portability made them an ideal choice for serving draft beer at larger events.

The beer industry saw a surge in beer ball sales, especially in the ‘80s and ‘90s, as people started to own beer balls for their personal use.

First introduced by F.X. Matt Brewing Company in 1982, the party ball concept quickly became a sensation in the beer world. Coors Brewing Company even held the registered trademark for the term ‘party ball’.

Beer balls balanced capacity, portability, cost, and aesthetics, making them an advantageous choice for consumers looking to serve beer at events, especially when it comes to beer party balls.

Origins of the Party Ball Beer

J. Kemper Matt Sr., the former vice president of F.X. Matt Brewery, conceptualized Matt’s beer ball in 1976, and a year later, it was launched onto the market. The beer ball was an instant hit among beer enthusiasts, and its popularity grew rapidly.

F.X. Matt Brewing Company was the pioneer of the beer ball concept. They were the first to introduce this innovative product to the nation, sparking a revolution in the way beer was served at parties. The beer ball was more than just a container for beer; it was a symbol of fun, camaraderie, and good times.

The Appeal of Party Ball Beers

Party ball beers became a hit due to their unique shape, manageable size, and easy transportation, which made them highly convenient and portable. They were easy to carry and set up, making them the perfect choice for large gatherings.

The cost-effectiveness of party ball beers also added to their appeal. They served as an affordable alternative to purchasing full kegs, allowing hosts to save significantly on beer expenses.

This affordability, combined with their unique design and convenience, made party ball beers a popular choice for serving draft beer at social events.

The Anatomy of a Party Ball Beer

The party ball beer boasted a simple yet ingenious design. These spherical containers could hold over five gallons of beer, which equates to approximately 55 12 ounce beers. The party ball featured a built-in tap system, making it easy to serve draft beer without the need for any additional equipment.

The beer ball, more than just a beer container, symbolized fun and camaraderie. Its distinctive design and functionality made it a hit at parties, leaving a lasting legacy in the memories of those who enjoyed it. It was the perfect way to play ball with friends, sharing laughter and good times.

Container Design and Capacity

The beer ball container was a sight to behold. Resembling a beach ball in size, these spherical kegs were made of translucent, amber-tinted plastic as an alternative to the traditional beer keg. The process of making these containers involved heating and expanding a tube with air to form the shape.

Each party ball had a capacity of 5.16 gallons of beer. This was equivalent to the volume of approximately 55 twelve-ounce beers. The size and capacity of these containers were perfect for serving beer at large gatherings, making them a popular choice for party hosts.

Built-in Tap System

One of the unique features of the party ball beer was its built-in tap system. This system made it incredibly easy to serve draft beer without the need for any additional equipment. The tap system was designed to function under lower pressure to reduce excessive foaming. A CO2 cartridge often provided the necessary dispensing pressure.

To dispense the beer, the tap handle was simply inserted into the party ball. Despite the convenience of the built-in tap system, it was known to have a short lifespan, often requiring replacement after four or five uses. However, this minor drawback didn’t deter beer enthusiasts from enjoying the novelty of the party ball beers.

Keeping Beer Cold and Fresh

One of the key challenges with serving beer at parties is keeping it cold and fresh. The design of the party ball beer addressed this issue in several ways. The beer ball featured a plastic bag liner within a cardboard box that could be filled with ice to insulate and keep the beer cold.

Furthermore, the amber-tinted plastic and the insulated nature of the box design aided in maintaining the beer at a cooler temperature. Hosts could use the packaging as ice holders or place the party ball in a dedicated keg tub filled with ice. The sturdy plastic construction of the party ball also helped keep the beer quality consistent during lively events.

The Decline and Disappearance of Party Ball Beers

Despite their initial popularity, the demand for party ball beers began to dwindle in the late 2000s. By 2007, the last beer balls, including Coors, were no longer available. By 2011, even major brands like Coors and Budweiser had ceased production of beer balls.

The decline and eventual disappearance of party ball beers can be attributed to several factors. More convenient and eco-friendly packaging options, as well as standard keg designs, made beer balls less popular among consumers.

Additionally, the rise of craft beers offered a wider range of flavors and styles, further diminishing the market share for party ball beers.

Rise of Craft Beers

The rise of craft beers significantly contributed to the dwindling popularity of party ball beers. Craft beers offered a wider range of flavors and styles than the standard lagers or light beers, including the light beer typically offered by party ball beers.

These unique and high-quality brews quickly gained popularity among beer enthusiasts, leading to a decrease in the popularity of mass-produced beers like those commonly found in beer balls.

Moreover, the craft beer movement emphasized local and small-scale production, a philosophy that starkly contrasted with the broad, mass-market appeal that party ball beers attempted to maintain. As more consumers gravitated towards craft beers, the demand for party ball beers dwindled.

Environmental Concerns

Environmental concerns also contributed to the decline of party ball beers. The non-recyclable nature of party ball containers contributed to environmental waste, leading to negative perceptions among environmentally conscious consumers.

As public awareness and concern for the environment grew, consumers increasingly preferred more sustainable packaging alternatives.

The disposable plastic ball containers used for party ball beers were not recyclable, leading to increased environmental waste. This was a major drawback for environmentally conscious consumers, who increasingly preferred products with eco-friendly packaging.

Production and Storage Challenges

Production and storage challenges also contributed to the decline of party ball beers. The cost of plastic for manufacturing party balls increased, raising the price and leading to reduced market competitiveness.

Furthermore, party ball beers contributed a small percentage to overall brewery revenue, making them less economically viable for continued production.

The rising costs of plastic made the production of party balls more expensive, adversely affecting their market competitiveness. In addition, the contribution of party ball beers to overall brewery revenue was minimal, making them less attractive for continued production.

Nostalgia and the Potential for a Party Ball Beer Revival

Despite their fall from popularity, party ball beers still elicit fondness and nostalgia among many. Many people reminisce about the popularity of these iconic beer containers during parties in the 80s and early 90s.

This nostalgia, combined with the trend of reviving retro products, could potentially lead to a revival of party ball beers.

Indeed, the prospect of a party ball beer revival extends beyond mere wishful thinking. There are several factors, including collectible memorabilia, craft beer adaptations, and modern innovations, that could play a role in bringing back these iconic beer containers.

Collectible Memorabilia

Party ball beers have become valued collectibles among enthusiasts who cherish beer memorabilia. Collectors specifically seek out the original party ball beer containers, taps, and packaging from the 1980s and early 90s.

These items not only serve as reminders of the golden age of beer balls but also showcase their lasting impact beyond their primary function.

Interestingly, after the beer was consumed, the innovative reuse of empty beer balls for various creative purposes showcases their lasting impact beyond their primary function. From astronaut helmets to summer camp lampshades, the empty beer balls found new life in various creative projects, further cementing their place in beer history.

Craft Beer Adaptation

The craft beer industry could play a significant role in the potential beer ball renaissance, reviving party ball beers.

Craft breweries, with their emphasis on small-scale production and high-quality brewing methods, could adapt the party ball beer concept for the modern market, as the beer industry brewed new ideas and innovations.

By leveraging the nostalgic appeal of party ball beers, craft breweries could tap into consumers’ desire for authentic retro experiences. This could potentially excite the world about craft beer again, as novelty and retro trends often catch on in social media.

Modern Innovations

Furthermore, modern innovations hold the potential to boost the appeal and functionality of a possible party ball beer revival. Advances in sustainable materials could lead to the creation of biodegradable or recyclable party balls, addressing environmental concerns.

Additionally, integration of modern tap systems that are simpler and integrated could enhance the appeal and functionality of revived party ball beers.

Moreover, adding plastic straws or tubes to party balls can provide quicker and better beer dispensing while minimizing spillage. The application of these modern innovations to party ball beers could make them more appealing to contemporary beer drinkers, potentially leading to their rejuvenation in the market.


In conclusion, the party ball beer was a unique product that left a lasting impact on the beer industry. From their rise to popularity in the 1980s to their decline in the late 2000s, party ball beers have had a significant journey.

While they’re no longer a common sight at parties, the nostalgia surrounding them remains strong.

Their potential revival could bring a new wave of excitement in the beer industry. With the adoption of modern innovations and a shift towards sustainable materials, the future of party ball beers remains promising.

After all, who wouldn’t want to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with a cold beer in hand?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do they still make party ball beer?

No, party ball beer is no longer being made. Coors and Budweiser were the last brands producing them, and they discontinued their versions in 2011.

What happened to Party Ball beer?

Party Ball beer production ended, possibly as late as 2007, as the beerball craze swept the nation in the 1980s, following Anheuser-Busch’s decision to roll out the beerballs.

Who introduced the party ball beer concept?

The party ball beer concept was introduced by F.X. Matt Brewing Company in 1982. So, they were the ones who started it all!

Why did party ball beers decline in popularity?

Party ball beers declined in popularity due to the emergence of more convenient and eco-friendly packaging options, a wider variety of craft beer flavors and styles, and increased production and storage challenges. Cheers!

Could there be a revival of party ball beers?

Yes, there could be a revival of party ball beers due to factors like nostalgia, collectible memorabilia, craft beer adaptations, and modern innovations.

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