So you’re looking for a new keg to store and serve your latest batch of beer from. Maybe it’s your first foray into the realm of kegging your homebrew or perhaps you already have a kegerator and just need to decide which way to go with your next keg purchase.
Kegging your homebrewed beer is one of the most rewarding aspects of homebrewing. However, with so many types of kegs on the market, choosing the right one can be daunting. In this post, I will compare two popular types of kegs: Torpedo kegs and Corny kegs.
So grab one of those last bottles of your latest IPA (your next brew is hopefully going to be on tap) and sit back while we look at the different styles of kegs and which is best for you.
Torpedo Keg vs Corny Keg at a Glance
|Size & Shape
|Oval and Larger
|Cylindrical and Smaller
|Opening and Closure
|Larger opening sealed with a hatch
|Smaller opening sealed with a removable lid
|Primarily used for beer
|Can be used for beer, soda, and other beverages
|Carbonation and Dispensing
|Efficient, with a dip tube that extends to the bottom of the keg
|Efficient, but with a shorter dip tube
|Ball Lock or Pin Lock
|Ease of Use
|Requires more strength to move due to size, but easy to clean
|Easy to handle and transport due to size, easy to disassemble and clean
|Made of thicker stainless steel, less likely to get dented
|Durable, but more likely to get dented due to the shape
|1.5, 2.5, or 5-gallon
|2.5 or 5-gallon
What Is a Torpedo Keg?
- Stacks with fittings in place
- Heavy duty stainless steel
- Torpedo keg - 5 gallon
A Torpedo keg is a relatively new variant of the Cornelius Kegs which have been favored by many homebrewers and microbreweries for dispensing their draft beers.
Although it looks similar to the commercial kegs, Sankey, used by bars and restaurants, it shares the two interconnects of a Corny keg. One ball lock fitting allows for the CO2 to be fed into the beer while the beer is actually fed out of the other keg post instead of just the one coupling of gas in/beer out of the Sankey kegs.
Although Corny kegs normally have a rubber or plastic lip around the top of the keg, Torpedo kegs are fully constructed using stainless steel. They are so-called Torpedo kegs due to their torpedo-like shape. The shape imitates that of a torpedo with the top of the keg resembling the bottom of a torpedo.
One of the biggest advantages a Torpedo keg offers is how easily it can be stacked due to its wider size and torpedo-like shape.
If you need to save some homebrewing space in your house, as that equipment can often take up considerable space, the Torpedo keg is ideal. Torpedo kegs are comfortable to carry and come in a variety of sizes, including 1.5-gallon, 2.5-gallon, 5-gallon, and, more recently, 6-gallon capacities.
Although 5-gallon Torpedo kegs tend to be most common, some of the smaller sizes such as a 1.5 or 2.5-gallon Torpedo keg can even be stacked inside your kitchen fridge.
The fact Torpedo kegs have no rubber or sharp edges also makes them ideal for use at home especially if you have younger kids running around. You won’t need to worry too much about an accident and you also avoid the risk of cutting yourself while carrying them.
Torpedo kegs also come with comfortable handles which make them easier for carrying around.
The stainless steel construction of a Torpedo keg also makes them more durable than traditional Corny kegs where the rubber can wear away over time. If looked after correctly, a Torpedo keg should last you a lifetime.
Can You Stack Torpedo Kegs?
Yes, definitely, and this is one of the key features of a Torpedo keg. Thanks to their torpedo design they can lock in place on top of each other. Once you start building your keg tower, you’ll notice how they just click into place. This makes them much more stable than regular barrels as they don’t just sit on top of one another, but rather fit perfectly to form a solid tower.
Thanks to their sleek all-stainless design, a Torpedo keg wouldn’t look out of place on a sturdy kitchen counter at your next house party. Guests can serve themselves from the kegs, and when one Torpedo is empty you can leave it at the bottom of the stack before placing a new Torpedo keg on top.
What Sort of Connection Does a Torpedo Keg Use?
Torpedo kegs typically use two ball lock quick disconnects to connect to your beer faucet or kegerator system, and are easy to change by inexperienced bar tenders or even the wife!
Be careful when purchasing a new Torpedo keg to check the interconnects your current draft beer system uses. Some older Corny kegs may have been using pin lock gas posts. Although you can get conversion kits to change the fitting at the end of your lines, changing the pin lock gas post isn’t possible without compromising the integrity of the keg.
Likewise, if you intend to use your draft beer system to serve commercially available kegs of beer you will need to buy a coupling conversion kit that enables both the gas line and beer line to connect to the keg using just one fitting.
A Sankey keg has just one connection using a single coupling that twists onto the center top of the keg. Also known as the American Sankey coupler, the D-type keg coupler is the most common on this side of the world, used by the majority of North American beers, including Molson, Corona, Coors, Budweiser, Miller, PBR, Yuengling, and so many more.
This connection allows CO2 in and beer out of the same mechanism, unlike the Torpedo kegs, where you have a gas line attached to one of the keg posts and a separate beer line attached to the opposite side of the keg.
Although one coupling makes for very quick disconnects when changing a keg, the Sankey keg has no removable lid or hatch, which makes them very difficult for a home brewer to fill or clean. Normally a batch of beer would be filled into Sankey kegs on an automated production line at the brewery.
Ease of Use and Cleaning
Another advantage of the Torpedo keg is that it has a larger opening than a Corny keg. This makes it easier to clean and fill. The larger opening also allows for more efficient carbonation and dispensing. Rather than the fully removable lid of a Corny keg, Torpedo kegs traditionally have a large hatch or trap door built into the stainless steel top.
The all-stainless construction also provides a more sanitized environment for you to keep the beer in. Few things spoil beer more quickly than an unsanitized keg.
What is a Corny Keg?
Corny kegs, or Cornelius Kegs have been the mainstay keg of choice for many years for homebrewers.
Originally developed by Coca-Cola, the first “soda kegs” were known as beverage transfer tanks (thank God that name didn’t stick!). Coca-Cola invented the Post Mix system for restaurants where a tank of syrup would be mixed with water and CO2 for carbonation as the drink was dispensed in the cup.
Although the first kegs were manufactured by the Firestone & John Wood Company, the vast majority were produced by Cornelius, Inc from Osseso, MN, so these tanks quickly became known as “Corny” kegs, regardless of their make.
Used mainly in the soft drinks industry, homebrewers almost immediately flocked towards these new “kegs”, purchasing many of the surplus tanks and adapting them for beer kegs. It was a pure coincidence that the Corny kegs would hold 5 gallons, which is also the typical amount for homebrew batches of beer.
Nowadays, the Corny keg is all but obsolete in the soft drinks industry and has been replaced by the bag-in-box system of Post Mix, which means there are often supplies of pre-used Post Mix tanks available to buy as a reliable cost-efficient alternative to newer kegs, that can be expensive.
When I installed my first home draft system, many of my original “kegs” would come from a nearby diner that seemed to have collected many surplus tanks in their storeroom.
However, these older refurbished tanks are becoming more scarce on the market now and sell very quickly when they do appear. New Corny Kegs, though, do tend to be one of the cheaper options when looking to purchase a keg from brewing stores.
What Size Is a Corny Keg?
The original Corny kegs were always 5 gallons in size, which is the most common size you will find today. An empty 5-gallon Corny keg will weigh roughly 10 pounds, and just a little over 50 pounds when full. You can also get Corny kegs in smaller 2.5-gallon sizes and also all the way up to 10 or 20-gallon kegs.
A stainless steel upright cylindrical tank, they look like a slimline Torpedo keg but with a large rubber gasket at the top which prevents them from being stackable. They have a diameter of 8.5 inches to 9 inches and stand anywhere from 22 to 25 inches tall, minus the two lines for draught and gas disconnects.
The top of the Corny keg has three main components, a gas-side post, a draught-side post, and a removable lid. The oval-shaped lid provides access to the keg for filling and cleaning, and it is usually held in place through tension with a heavy-duty wire handle.
What Type of Disconnect Does a Corny Keg Use?
Corny kegs fall into one of two categories and are available as Cornelius ball & pin lock kegs. This distinction dates back to the days when they were used by the soft drinks industry and Coca-Cola pioneered the pin lock tank plugs, while Pepsi, not wanting to use its closest rival’s method, would use kegs with ball locks.
This also prevented less scrupulous restaurant owners from substituting whatever was the least expensive Post Mix at the time in their Coca-Cola or Pepsi-provided drinks fountain.
Pin lock tanks are roughly 2.5 inches shorter and a half inch wider in diameter than kegs with ball lock style kegs. The pin lock disconnect uses a mechanism of horizontal pins on the post to attach. The gas post will have two pins whereas the draught line post will use three pins, so the two interconnects can’t be mixed up.
Classic ball lock kegs use posts with ridges that the ball in the connectors grips. The ball lock liquid post and ball lock disconnect from the gas side are both the same, so it is important to make sure you connect to the corresponding post. While there are conversion kits available, pin lock and ball quick disconnects are not interchangeable.
The Advantages of a Corny Keg
One of the main advantages of the Corny keg is that it is easy to disassemble and clean. The keg has a removable lid that allows for easy access to the interior. This makes it easier to clean and sanitize than a Torpedo keg.
Another advantage of the Corny keg is that it is relatively inexpensive compared to other types of kegs, especially if you can pick up a pre-used soft drink Corny keg. This makes it a popular choice among homebrewers who are just starting out.
Corny kegs are also versatile. They can be used for carbonating and dispensing beer, as well as for storing and dispensing other beverages, such as soda or wine.
Both Torpedo and Corny kegs can also provide the flexibility for force carbonating your beer which allows the brewer to control the CO2 volumes and complete carbonation in a fraction of the time of natural carbonation.
Torpedo kegs will tend to be better for the fermentation of a beer as stainless steel conducts cold well and enables low temperatures to be maintained. An airlock can often be installed in place of the pressure release valve to allow for secondary fermentation and the beer will already be packaged when it is ready to be served.
In conclusion, both Torpedo kegs and Corny kegs have their advantages and disadvantages.
The Torpedo keg is larger and more efficient for stacking and storing, but it is also more expensive. With its all-stainless steel construction, it will be a long-lasting product for most brewing applications. Heavy-duty stainless steel handles can make them easier to move and help avoid the black scuff marks that the rubber of a Corny keg can often leave, especially if used indoors.
The Corny keg is smaller and less expensive, but it can’t be stacked as easily, if at all. Transporting the smaller cylindrical shape of a Corny keg may allow you to squeeze a few more in the trunk, but when stored at home or in the garage, they can take up considerably more space.
Ultimately, the choice between these two types of kegs will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Personally, I prefer to spend the extra 20 bucks or so to get a new Torpedo keg, simply because I can stack more of them efficiently in my fridge and they look better too, without all that horrible black rubber.
If you only need one keg, though, and sticking to your budget is important, then a Corny keg may be the one to go with.