Keg Types Sanke vs. Corny Kegs Homebrew Academy

Sanke vs. Corny Kegs: Understanding the Key Differences for Homebrewers and Commercial Use

In the world of beer brewing and kegging, the choice between Sanke and Corny kegs is a crucial one, impacting everything from the ease of use to the type of beer dispensing system you can implement.

This article delves into the fundamental differences between these two popular types of kegs, their working mechanisms, and how to choose the right one for your brewing needs.

What Are Sanke and Corny Kegs?

Sanke and Corny kegs represent the two primary containers used for storing and dispensing beer. Each serves a distinct purpose and comes with its own set of features tailored to different users.

Sanke Kegs: The Commercial Standard

Sanke kegs, often spelled “Sankey,” are the standard in the commercial brewing industry. Designed for ease of use on a large scale, they feature a single-valve system that simplifies the beer dispensing process.

However, accessing the inside for cleaning or inspection is more challenging due to this design, usually requiring specialized equipment. It’s important to note that acquiring Sanke kegs typically involves a deposit, and outright ownership without proper acquisition is considered theft.

Corny Kegs: The Homebrewer’s Choice

Corny kegs, or Cornelius kegs, originated in the soda industry but have become a favorite among homebrewers. These kegs are known for their ease of access, thanks to a wide mouth and a removable lid, making them ideal for cleaning and refilling.

They are available in various sizes, with 5 gallons being the most common, but 3 and 2 gallons are also popular for smaller batches or portability to events.

The Transition from Soda to Beer

Corny kegs have an interesting history, transitioning from holding soda like Coke and Pepsi to becoming a staple in the homebrewing community.

This shift occurred as the soda industry moved to using box and bag systems, leading to an influx of these kegs on the market.

Homebrewers quickly adopted them, and now, new Corny kegs are even manufactured specifically for brewing purposes, featuring modern designs and materials.

Key Differences Between Sanke and Corny Kegs

The differences between these kegs extend beyond their origins and intended use. Here are the key distinctions:

  • Access and Maintenance: Corny kegs are designed for easy access, with a wide opening and a simple latch system. This design makes them much easier to clean and maintain than Sanke kegs, which require specialized equipment to open and clean.
  • Dispensing Systems: Sanke kegs use a single connection system for dispensing, which is efficient for commercial setups but less flexible for home use. Corny kegs, on the other hand, have two separate connections for gas (CO2 or Nitrogen) and beer, offering more versatility for homebrewers.
  • Size and Portability: While both types of kegs come in various sizes, Corny kegs are generally more portable and suitable for smaller batches, making them ideal for home use and small gatherings.
  • Use and Flexibility: Corny kegs allow for both carbonation and dispensing within the same container, a significant advantage for homebrewers looking to control the carbonation process.

Building a Kegerator: Can You Use Both Types of Kegs?

For those looking to build a kegerator, the choice between Sanke and Corny kegs is often dictated by the type of beer and the source.

However, with the right equipment and knowledge, it is possible to set up a system that accommodates both types, offering the ultimate flexibility in beer dispensing.


Whether you’re a commercial brewer or a homebrewing enthusiast, understanding the differences between Sanke and Corny kegs is essential for choosing the right kegging system for your needs.

From the ease of cleaning and maintenance to the type of dispensing system, each keg offers its own set of advantages and challenges.

By considering your brewing scale, beer dispensing needs, and portability requirements, you can select the keg that best suits your brewing journey.


Which keg is easier to clean and maintain?

Corny kegs are easier to clean and maintain due to their wide opening and simple latch system.

Can I use Sanke kegs for homebrewing?

While possible, it’s less common due to the specialized equipment needed for cleaning and filling Sanke kegs.

Are Corny kegs only available in 5-gallon sizes?

No, Corny kegs are available in various sizes, including 2, 3, and 5 gallons, to suit different needs and preferences.

Can I carbonate beer in a Sanke keg?

Carbonation in Sanke kegs is possible but less straightforward than in Corny kegs, which are designed for easy carbonation and dispensing.

Is it legal to own a Sanke keg?

Ownership of a Sanke keg requires proper acquisition. Simply putting down a deposit does not constitute ownership, and unauthorized possession may be considered theft.

By understanding these differences and considerations, you can make an informed decision that enhances your brewing and beer dispensing experience. Whether you opt for the commercial standard of Sanke kegs or the homebrewer-friendly Corny kegs, the right choice will ensure a satisfying and successful brewing journey.

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