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The idea to write about “one-way keg solutions for SE Asia” came after helping a client in The Philippines source some kegs for their brewery.
We spoke about their motivations in wanting to use one-way kegs. They were several important factors in their decision:
Geography – The Philippines is a vast network of islands, getting steel kegs back will be a challenge and increase costs.
Loss of keg fleet – Outright losing, being unable to find, or get your steel kegs back in a timely manner, means beer can’t be packaged.
Lower upfront costs – Steel kegs can be an expensive investment.
Flexibility on fittings – Steel kegs tie you into one spear type. In SE Asia; bars and restaurants may run different keg couplers from one another. One-way kegs mean you can cover all spear types.
Storage – Space can be a premium in a brewery, running a large steel keg fleets takes up space. One-way kegs can be ordered in, when needed.
Cleaning – Steel kegs mean a keg cleaner. One-way kegs come ready to fill.
Please note: some one-way kegs will need a CO2 purge before filling. Still there are savings on space, labour and utilities.
Furthermore, the likes of Pertainer one-way kegs are purged with N2 and ready to fill on delivery. As well as being recyclable with the chimes removable and able to be reused.
I’m aware, most breweries will not fully go 100% one-way kegs. Most will have some form of steel keg fleet. For example, a brewpub is likely to use steel kegs for some of their draft.
Although, highlighting the other side of the spectrum. Contract brewing operations, will often use 100% one-way kegs. It now makes sense to deep-dive in to the reasons above. To determine if one-way kegs are right option for your brewery.
Geography – One-Way Keg Solutions for SE Asia
I’m firmly believe, SE Asia is currently the most exciting craft beer region in the World. The growth and excitement around craft beer locally, is immense.
I’ve been helping several companies in SE Asia, either get their first brewing equipment or upgrade their operations.
Breweries seem to be popping up all over the region. For example, there’s Paperkite in Malaysia. A country which until recently, where locally brewed craft beer didn’t really exist.
There are obvious issues with opening a brewery in the region. You’ve countries spread out over numerous islands like The Philippines and Indonesia.
Plus, plenty of cross-border trade, with Association of South Eastern Nations (ASEAN) formalizing local relationships.
When breweries in SE Asia look to get their beer in the hands of people. Distribution can be a major obstacle, within country and across borders.
That’s even without the logistics of getting steel empties back, which doubles the challenge. Especially, when you consider its essentially transporting back dirty CO2 to a brewery…is it worth cost?
Loss of Keg Fleet
I don’t have the numbers for SE Asia, but I was speaking to Darren Duncan of I-Keg in the UK. He says his findings were, breweries reporting 10% loss per year of their keg fleet.
“For those in the UK, consider using I-Keg, as they are reusable one-way kegs with inbuilt trackers.”
People stealing kegs to make all manner of things from barbeques to bar stools. That’s just losses, but then you’ve the issue of getting your kegs back in a timely manner.
Breweries are at the mercy of bar and restaurant owners. Their priorities aren’t sending back empty kegs. Plus, often when they do, the state of the keg can be atrocious, meaning a lot of labor to get them clean.
In SE Asia the issue of retrieving steel kegs back can be quite extreme. I spoke to Mathieu Raphat from Pertainer and he told me the following…
“Yeah, the loss of kegs in 10 to 15%, in Europe. However, when I speak with Thai big breweries, they tell me it takes around 18-months for them to get their kegs from export back. This builds back into the inability of breweries to empty cellar tanks.”
All this factored together, means:
Loss of property – Meaning more expense for the brewery.
Labor wastage – Chasing up kegs and then cleaning them up.
Unable to empty cellar tanks – As you don’t have enough of your steel keg fleet at hand.
When you’ve one-way kegs, a brewery just has to ensure there are enough kegs for the coming weeks in stock. Which is easy enough; as it’s tied to predicted sales volumes.
It’s a simple as a phone call to your one-way keg supplier to place and pay for an order. Even better, unlike bar and restaurant owners; the supplier’s priority, is getting the kegs to you in a timely manner.
No more worries about having enough empty kegs to drain your tanks. Plus, you don’t need to worry about getting your kegs back, cleaning them or worrying about what state they come back in…
Flexibility on Fittings – One-Way Keg Solutions for SE Asia
There are many spear types, as you can see in the picture below. In many parts of SE Asia, different Food and Beverage (F&B) outlets, use varying keg couplers for their locations.
One bar could use D-couplers for example, while the restaurant next door uses A-couplers. When a brewery buys a steel keg, it’s limited to that particular spear.
Yes, a brewery can change spear type, but this can expensive. However, with one-way kegs all spear types are open to a brewery.
Again, it ties into predicted sales volumes and for which accounts. With a bit of forward planning, breweries can predict how many of each spear type they need.
Meaning a brewery never has to worry about supply chain issues again. The piece of mind to a small brewery where every liter sold counts, is priceless.
Storage of a Steel Keg Fleet and Environmental Issues
Empty kegs take up a lot of room. With suggestions a brewery need at least the same volume in kegs, as they have tank space, for example:
If you have:
- 3 x 1,000-liter Unitanks
- 4 x 500-liter Unitanks
- 1 x 1,000-liter Bright Beer Tank
That’s a total of 6,000-liter cellar space. If a brewery is using 30-liter kegs, then they’d need:
6,000-liters in tank / 30-liters kegs = 200 x 30-liter kegs needed
That’s a lot of space taken up, and in reality, most breweries will need more kegs. Now if the same brewery was using one-way kegs. They can keep fewer empty kegs in stock. They just need enough for the upcoming weeks. Meaning less space taken up.
Furthermore, the company I recommend blow their one-way kegs in China. Thus reducing the CO2 footprint compared to other suppliers importing fully assembled kegs. Ideal for those SE Asian breweries who care about the environment too.
The receive only part of the components from Europe and then blow/assemble in Central China. To learn more about these one-way kegs and pricing please get in touch. My email is:
Cleaning – One-Way Keg Solutions for SE Asia
One of my least favorite jobs in brewing is cleaning kegs. I’ve cleaned thousands of the kegs over the years. I want to cry when I think about the number of hours, I’ve stood in front of a semi-automatic keg cleaner.
Yes, it’s necessary in many breweries, however as labour, utility and chemical cost increase. The ease of filling one-way kegs, is becoming more appealing to breweries.
It’s the same principle as to why many breweries are paying more upfront for automatic brewhouses. The labour savings start to make sense.
Let’s Start to Round This Up…
We’re seeing more breweries in the region look at using one-way kegs. For instance, Engkanto, the respected brewery out of The Philippines is now selling it’s been in Thailand too…
I spoke with Ricard Basora, the Managing Director of Engkanto, and he had this to say:
“We are exploring the opportunity to use one-way kegs to Thailand. It’s a new market for us and we still need to see some development, definitely a great opportunity to enter the draft segment and avoiding incurring on asset loss”
I was speaking with the guys from the Coron Brewhouse Project, and they too were looking at using one-way kegs as they expand their operations.
One-Way Keg Solutions for SE Asia – Conclusions
SE Asia being a diverse, vast, up and coming craft beer region is leading local breweries to see one-way kegs, as the ideal solution to get their beers in the hands of people.
It makes logistical, practical, economical and use of labour sense…
Sending your beer to different islands and across borders in steel, makes getting the empties back a whole other challenge…let alone simply keeping track of them.
As one-way kegs are being manufactured in the region. The pricing of them makes real-world sense too. It’s why my client in Tagaytay, just bought his first batch of kegs, for his new brewery.
If you’re looking for more information on one-way kegs and where to source them. Feel free to get in touch. I’m happy to help, as I did for the client above. Get in touch by emailing me at:
Or message me directly on your preferred network by scanning the relevant QR code below. Scan, add and then send me a message. For now, thanks for reading and have a great day…