My wife and I threw a party over Memorial Day weekend. We wanted to supply choices for both soft drinks and alcoholic drinks for our guests including beer. During our party planning my wife and I discussed buying cases of beer in cans or getting a keg. The perception is that getting a keg is similar to buying in bulk, therefore it’s cheaper. But is that perception the reality?
I decided to breakdown the math, and compare the cost of a 16 gallon keg of domestic light beer to purchasing the same amount of beer in cans.
- 16 Gallons x 128oz per gallon = 2048 ounces of beer
- $110 for the Keg / 2048 ounces of beer = about $0.054 per ounce
But, we also have to take into account the stack of 300 cups I purchased ($10 at Sam’s Club), and the ice I purchased to keep the keg cold (4 bags of 20 pounds of ice at $2.55 at Costco = $10.20). After taking these factors into account, the cost of keg beer looks like this:
- $110 for the keg + $10 for cups + $10.20 for Ice = $130.20
- $130.20 / 2048 ounces = $0.0635 per ounce
- 24 Cans x 12oz per can = 288 ounces of beer
- $16 per case (on sale) / 288 ounces of beer = $0.055 per ounce
We also have to take into account that I’d likely put ice into the coolers. I have to keep the cans of beer cold as well. If we assume using the same amount of ice, and that we’d need 7 cases of beer (it’s actually 7.1 cases) to equal the keg, our cost for canned beer looks like this:
- 7 cases of beer x $16 per case + $10.20 for Ice = $122.20
- $122.20 / 2016 ounces = $0.0606 per ounce
The cost of having a keg is actually slightly more than canned beer if you can find it on sale. Given the perception that buying in bulk is usually cheaper, this was a surprise to me.
The bottom line is, the cost of having keg beer and canned beer is very similar. We’re talking about a difference of $8 between the two, and either way you’re getting a LOT of beer. Whether you buy canned beer or a keg for your large gathering will come down to convenience, taste, and personal preference. But cost really isn’t a factor.
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