Keg Types: Sanke vs. Corny Kegs

by Karl S Updated on September 12, 2019

Sanke vs. Corny Kegs – what are the differences? How do these kegs work? I answer these in the video above.


So the two main types of kegs are senki kegs and Cornelius or corny kegs. A good way to think about it Sanke is for commercial use corny kegs are for homebrew use. There are some people that use Sanke kegs for home brewing but it’s pretty rare I do. I have to jump in here and click aside and say if you put a deposit down on a Sanke keg that doesn’t mean you own it is considered theft don’t do it okay acquire it legitimately legally.

So corny kegs – these used to be used in the soda industry, you know so they would hold a Coke and Pepsi. And then they switched over to using boxes with plastic bags and then these kegs flooded the market. And home brewers picked them up! And I actually have an example of one of the old soda kegs and these are still really common in home brewing. So here’s one of the ones that used to be used for soda and if you get a used one even usually still smell like Coke or Pepsi.

But then you know home brewing got so big that they started making these things brand new for home brewers and that’s what this you know fancy one shiny one is here. This is a brand new one made for home brewing. So these are corny kegs and they come in all different sizes, this is five gallons which is by far the most common size there’s also three gallons and two gallons I have a three gallon one here. Excuse me just a little three gallon guy it’s good to bring out two parties.

And then with Sanke kegs all different sizes, also it’s always based relative to a barrel of beer. Right so and a barrel of bureaus as we know is gallons so this is what’s called a six so meaning one six of gallons or barrel of beer so it’s a little over five gallons a little bit bigger than this guy the most common size you know there’s big ones that you see at frat parties those are even though people call them full kegs you know they’re really half a barrel so those are and a half gallons another common size is a quarter barrel and those are a little over seven gallons so there’s some pretty important.

Differences between these two types of kegs:

The first Ascend keek egg it’s a lot harder to access the inside of this thing. The Brewers that use them they have special machines to clean them sanitize them and fill them with beer. It’s a lot easier to get into the inside of a corny keg, you can use some tools to get into the inside of this thing but it’s kind of a pain in the butt and it’s not really meant for individual people like me and you.

So another thing to talkin about the tap – that you use it’s got a single connection and you’ll see the corny keg has two connections. You know so what are the two connections for well the two things going on basically is we’re pumping in cold air and that forces the beer out. Right, so if we look at this is a Sanke coupler we have cold that comes in through the side and that pushes the beer out through the top. 

And this is intended for a kegerator right so this is hooked up to a draft system and the beer comes out of a faucet either on a tower or you know the side of a refrigerator. Something like that this is the same thing in terms of the coupler you know so these are the same on the bottom here, but instead of using cold air this uses air you’re probably pretty familiar with. This you know you just pump this thing and the air that you pump in forces the beer out through the simple picnic tap. So it’s it’s a more temporary modular solution compared to this which is a little more permanent.

So the corny keg it was meant for home brewers for home use so it’s a lot easier to get into you see it has this big wide mouth on it with this lid that latches on real easy so it’s a lot easier to clean it and to fill it with beer.

Now the connections are different too you know I was saying this is a two in one connection on the Sanke coupler –  meaning that you know this one device does two things that accept cold and it pumps out beer.

There’s two connections on the corny keg gas one for gas or Nitro and one for beer and so instead of a coupler like this you use. These things that we call quick disconnects, these are ball locks, there’s also pin locks that’s a different type of keg. So you know these just go on to the connections up top up switch there and so co comes in and I actually have so you can see kind of what’s on the inside of this thing. So this is the co and so you can see just a really short post here so that shoots the gas in.

And a key difference here too is that with homebrew you know with home brewers usually you’re also you’re doing two things with the gas, you’re also carbonating the beer too. s

So the corny is carving up the beer and it’s also pushing it out through your draft system. So the co shoots into the keg you know so it comes down about this far and and then the beer one it’s much longer so it’s like this and this goes down to the bottom and then that’s what the beer comes out of.

So you can see it’s much different you know you can access the inside of the keg a lot easier and you have these two separate connections with the corny keg as opposed to the Sanke keg where you just have this one coupler here.

So if you’re building a kegerator you might be wondering how can I use both I want to use a commercial keg Sanke keg and a corny keg and I don’t want to have a dedicated line for the Sanke keg. You want more flexibility (I’m gonna do a different video on that) and it’ll show you how to use a ball lock with a Sanke coupler. So check that one out but but I hope this really you know cleared up any confusion about the different types of kegs out there – so thanks guys take care!

If you’re thinking about building a kegerator, make sure to check out my keezer build too.