Intro to Brewing Beer: Bottling or Kegging (Pt. 6 of 8)

By Chris Lindsey


This is the second decision you’ll face as a homebrewer – how to package your beer? On the surface it looks like bottling takes more time and effort compared to kegging, but there’s more to it than that. I have always bottled my beer.

Kegging is certainly the quicker option for packaging your beer. Bottling takes me about 2 hours for a 5-gallon batch, where kegging probably takes ½-1 hour (that’s a guess since I’ve never kegged my beer). Kegs are great if you want to serve beer to a lot of people, since there are no empty bottles left over to clean up and wash out. Cleaning out a 5-gallon keg is easier than the 50 or so bottles that make up an equivalent volume. Kegs will last for years with a little maintenance, whereas my bottle supply has a steady attrition rate due to leaving them behind at friends’ houses.

Bottling takes more upfront time and effort than kegging, but once you’re done the beer is ready to drink. Bottles travel easily; I often grab a bottle to bring to a friend’s house and have even packed them in checked baggage to take on flights. Kegs don’t travel as easily. Bottles are bulkier overall but can fit in all sorts of nooks and crannies and thus can be stored more efficiently than a keg. Additionally a keg is occupied if there’s 5 gallons or just 1 gallon of beer in it, so the number of beers you can have on hand is limited by the number of kegs. I typically have a half dozen types of bottled beers in my closet. Bottling needs less equipment, you only need a bottling bucket and a few gadgets to fill and cap the bottles. Kegging requires a CO2 bottle, high-pressure hoses, fittings, and regulators; all of which need to be cleaned and maintained.

Part 1: Why I Brew Beer
Part 2: 4 Common Questions
Part 3: Step-by-Step Guide To Getting Started
Part 4: Extract or All-Grain
Part 5: Five Keys to Consistency
Part 6: You are here. Awesome!
Part 7: My Best Brewing Resources
Part 8: Beer Alternatives


Legal Stuff: Of course, we should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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