Keg Life Ain’t For Pussies



I tend rail on sexism in Hospitality just a bit. But, not without significant justification. Just because something isn’t right – or you don’t like it – doesn’t mean it ain’t happenin’.  At interview time, your dime-a-dozen, baseline “7″ [or greater] vixen has barely to flash a momentary grin, or timely head-bob, to have a couple dozen patiently waiting males (or not quite so fancy bitches), quickly dispatched in search employment elsewhere – resumes in hand. Never mind that she may nary be able to discern the difference between Sour Mash and typical corn Bourbon, let alone a jigger from a Julep Strainer. Recommend a full-bodied, astringent red – let’s say a “shaly,” Old World v. a New World, warmer climate-based, Napa variety? Don’t even go there. Sigh… none of that matters though to most employers though. It’s simply reality. Generally speaking however, said F.O.H. eye-candy doesn’t stand a chance in the world of sucking the limitless life out of a corporate Amex card, without a plethora of helping hands. That’s particularly true of pub life as opposed to highly-mechanized corporate Hospitality.

Take your average Keg for example… Well, more like half-a-keg technically speaking. You’re talking about a really heavy, awkwardly-shaped, royal pain in the ass. Here in the States, the overwhelming majority of brewers and bars utilize the 15.5-gallon (58-liter) version. Recounting uber-basic of high-school chemistry, I’ll conveniently remind you that water density is about 8.3 lbs/gallon (beer is probably a tad denser). Empty, this hulk of galvanized steel weighs in at about 30 lbs. That puts a full beast somewhere in the 150 – 160 lb range. Why does this matter? It matters because – as a barkeep – it’s entirely likely that, at some point, you’ll be required to juggle several full half-kegs (herein referred to as simply “kegs”) around the venue’s Walk-In refrigerator.

If you work without a Barback at anything resembling a pub, it’s just about a certainty that you’ll be dragging, rolling, and frequently curling the enemy to and fro in order to tap full kegs, and provide your guests their suds without too much of an interruption. In the photo above, I’ve just finished maneuvering 4 or 5 full kegs, successively lifting each one on top of others by myself, using nothing but brute strength. Why? Because I had to.

In many bars I’ve worked in, Walk-Ins are poorly designed, small’ish in size, and unfortunately, multi-purposed. So, not only do I frequently have to simulate what Magnus ver Magnerson does at his leisure, but I also get to climb around where there is no walking space, risking twisted/broken limbs/joints, and routinely risk flavoring 5-gallon Thousand Island buckets with dirty bartender shoe – yum. Luckily, I’m a pretty strong and relatively youthful dude. But, I’m no braggart – I assure you. The last thing I want to do in life is huck beer kegs from place to place. Have you ever seen the size of those delivery truck drivers and their requirement for back braces? I suspect their “careers” don’t exceed the span of a professional football player’s NFL career. I could be wrong I guess. Just sayin…



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One thought on “Keg Life Ain’t For Pussies

  1. I understand, keg changing is a bitch. I used to work in a place with ten lines but only room for three backups in the walk-in. It was a constant guessing game as to “which beer will kick first” and then of course maneuvering those kegs into position; then you’d get a run on one that you didn’t expect and of course have to move around the entire room to change it. What a nightmare. To those who change the kegs, we salute you.

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