Craft Beer Gets a New Container
It used to be the case that in the United States there just weren’t that many options for beer—the industry dominated by the biggest brewers offering just a few lagers and ales. For decades, that left beer fans longing for the variety found in nations like the UK or Belgium. But the rapid expansion of craft brewers around the country over the last decade and a half changed all that, ushering in a kind of beer renaissance. Ambers, lagers, triple bocks, stouts, IPAs, double IPAs, lambics, porters, wheats, whites and sours. If you can name it, you can buy today in the US.
But somehow, that innovation never found its way to the containers for all that precious liquid—heavy, unwieldy steel kegs have been stuck in the 20th century.
Enter Rehrig Pacific Company’s PUBKEG. The engineers and salespeople at Rehrig Pacific, a shipping container and logistics company, were well-versed in the beverage world, designing all manner of pallets, crates and containers and tracking tech to keep up with them. So designing kegs was a departure, but not a big one. And it was a good fit for the company culture.
“There are a lot of people in the organization who are into good beer,” said Jeremy Wicks, Rehrig’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Industry Manager. “Someone saw an opportunity and it seemed like a fun market to be in.”
Fun isn’t the same thing as easy. Rehrig Pacific went back to the keg drawing board, approaching the project with their typical zeal and obsessiveness, which is evident in the PUBKEG’s signature innovation, the Pressure Release Valve. The PRV automatically vents if the beer reaches within an unsafe pressure.
“There is no requirement to include a pressure release valve in plastic one-way kegs,” stated Mr. Wicks. Heat, jostling and continued fermentation can all conspire to raise pressure inside a keg to unsafe levels, posing a danger to delivery drivers, your friendly neighborhood bartender, anyone and everyone who handles the keg. Mr. Wicks added, “That decision was made within Rehrig because we just felt it was our responsibility to make this thing as safe as possible.”
“Over-engineered” is a word that gets tossed around quite a bit at Rehrig Pacific with no small amount of pride, so they didn’t stop there.
As Mr. Wicks will tell you—and many of the company’s customers will confirm—Rehrig Pacific consistently goes beyond not just what is required but what is expected to. So the signature Pressure Release Valve is only one among several features that sets PUBKEG apart from other kegs. The construction of the PUBKEG itself is a safety feature—its lightweight plastic construction will get your attention immediately if you’ve ever strained your back hoisting a heavy steel keg. The inter-locking lids allow the kegs to be stacked safely, and the inner bottle containing the beer is designed to keep out oxygen to ensure the beer tastes exactly as the brewer intended.
Small brewers finally have kegs created with the same level of craft and care they put into brewing their beers.