How much can a kegerator save you? Well that depends on many different factors, but that’s why I’m here to help you figure that out.
The Cost of a Kegerator
Kegerator prices vary from very cheap to extremely expensive. I recommend staying away from either end, but a good starting kegerator should be no less than $350, with extra money tucked away for aftermarket improvements – which many kegerators need.
For this example, I’ll need a kegerator for our comparison. I have chosen a one-tap kegerator manufactured by Great Northern Popcorn Company, which I find slightly ironic, but what ever. This kegerator isn’t everyone’s choice, and I’m not saying go out and buy it as I have yet to actually do a review on it. But for a cost savings example, we’ll use it here. You can click on the picture to see it at amazon.
At the time of this writing, that very kegerator is on sale for $479.95, which is close to my $500 budget. This is a good budget to keep in mind, as even if you go with a cheaper model, remember to save some cash for upgrades or replacing parts for higher quality versions.
Wow, $500 for a beer fridge, you might say. Well, yes, but depending on what you plan on stocking your kegerator with, you might be surprised at how much it will save you.
Introducing the Kegerator Buddies
So now we’ll look at three different beer buddies. Let’s call them Tom, Fred, and Sammy.
All three buddies in our example love beer, of course. And all three enjoy a beer or two a night, and maybe a couple extra during the game when friends are over. Lets say their average consumption (including guests, of course) is about a case, or 24 bottles of beer, a week.
Let’s also say that all three of our buddies all bought the same kegerator. As I said before, we’ll use the Frosty Keg and we’ll say the price is an even $500. So Tom, Fred and Sammy all go through roughly the same amount of beer, and bought the same kegerator.
What’s different about our friends is what they’re drinking. We all know how real beer drinkers all have different tastes, and thanks to the amazing variety out there, we couldn’t expect anything less!
Fred likes his basic, big name domestic beers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We’ll say that he pretty much always ends up buying one of only a few choices, and for this example, his mainstay is Bud, costing him about $18 a week.
Sammy, way at the other end of the scale from Fred, loves his exotic imports, and does crazy things like paring beer with meals, and buying different styles of beer to suit different times of the year. Because Jim is the ultimate beer snob, we’re going to price him at $36 a week for 4 six packs.
Tom sits right in the middle of the two. He is a bit of a beer connoisseur and while he enjoys tasting different micro brews from around the country, he wants his old fallback, which we’ll say is Blue Moon White. He buys two 12 packs a week, costing him about $28.
Now we know what our three friends tastes are, and how cost reflects their choices.
All three of our beer buddies get their kegerator on the same day. Let’s say that none of them had any trouble, or needed to do any upgrades. They all are working properly and ready to take on their first keg.
Our Buddies Buy Their Kegs
Fred runs out to his favorite liquor store, and finds a 1/2 barrel keg of Bud costs him around $100. Thank goodness he bought a kegerator that can fit it!
Meanwhile, Tom verifies in advance that his local beer store will have a 1/2 barrel keg of Blue Moon available for him. When he picks it up, he pays $140 for it.
And then there’s Sammy. Sammy decided to go all out and brew his own all-grain brew – No kits for this snob! Sammy decided 6 weeks beforehand to brew up a hefeweizen-style beer, which he knows works well on hot patio days. Though Sammy has to spend a few hours making it, and a few more hours here and there while it ferments and kegging it, Sammy pays a mere $30 for all the ingredients. But it only makes a third of a 1/2 barrel, so we’ll assume he does this 3 times for every keg his friends buy, making it $90.
So? How Much Does a Kegerator Save Them?
It’s already becoming clear who the obvious winner might be – Sammy, right? Well, sure, if you don’t mind the time he’s putting into his hobby. But let’s look a little closer.
Fred’s Bud used to cost him $0.75 per 12 oz bottle, but now, he’s only spending about $0.61 for the same amount from his keg. That’s $14.64 per case, saving him $3.36 a case, and $174.72 a year. It’s going to take about 149 cases, or nearly 3 years to make his money back on the kegerator, but after that, he has no worries.
Tom was spending $1.16 for each bottle of beer, but now that he’s got his Blue Moon on tap, he’s spending $0.85 per 12 oz. Tom’s savings are a little better than Freds, as he’s now paying $20.40 per case – a $7.60 difference. Tom is going to pay off his kegerator much faster, because it will only take him 66 cases or just over a year for him to make his money back.
That leaves us with Sammy the Beer Snob. You’ll remember that Sammy went to through the effort to brew his own masterpiece to serve himself and his guests. I’m going to guess that Sammy most likely enjoys the fact that he can show off his brewing skills and really doesn’t care about the savings.
How do you think Sammy did? Is he saving any real money with all that extra work?
First off, we have to remember that while Sammy is making 3 batches of beer for every keg that his buddies are buying, he’s still half a gallon short. Three of his brews make 15 gallons, while Tom and Fred’s kegs are all 15.5 gallons each, so I am working this into my comparison.
Sammy’s imports used to cost him $1.50 per bottle, but now that he’s brewing his own beer, he’s only paying $0.58 for a 12 oz serving. Yup, all that extra time and effort paid off for Sammy, because even though he’s not making quite as much, he’s saving $0.92 for each bottle – translating to $22.06 per week. At this rate, Sammy will handily have his $500 kegerator paid off in less than 6 months! Who said snobbery had to be expensive?
So there you have it. No matter who you are, a kegerator can save you money, but how much truly depends on your style and the lengths you are willing to go to. If the savings aren’t enough to persuade you from making the transition, you can read about how purchasing a kegerator can have several other benefits for you as well.