Ever wondered how your pint of cider got from the cider house to the pub? Most of the time it’s in kegs. Many of the companies I’ve reviewed are start-ups. Start-ups have huge costs in equipment. One of the biggest costs is the kegs. Both the physical keg and the logistics of moving the kegs back and forth to the pub. Kegstar saw an opportunity to make it easier to get beers and cider to pubs.

Some quick maths for you. Your new cider has just got a spot on tap at the pub. Time to buy 6 kegs. 1 connected to the tap, one standby. An empty keg coming home from the pub. One being cleaned out while another is being filled. Number 6 is on the truck back to pub. Each keg can cost up to $250.All of a sudden you’re nudging $3000 and that’s just to keep 1 tap flowing and you haven’t paid a truckie yet.

Before I go on, let me say Kegstar do not sponsor Real cider Reviews. I think their product is a cool idea that’s worth sharing. Saying that, Kegstar (or most anyone else) are welcome to advertise here.

Recently I was at the GABS beer festival just about every stand had Kegstar branded keg under the table. Yes this was part of a sponsorship deal but most brewers used these kegs for the convenience of it. Can you imagine the nightmare clean up after the event if each of the 150 odd brewers and cider makers had their own truck comes to pick up only a handful of kegs each. It would have been a traffic jam. But with Kegstar the brewers don’t need to worry about the collection of the empties, that’s Kegstar’s job.

The trick here is the scanning. The cider maker scans in the keg when it arrives at the cider house. This is when the cider maker starts paying for the keg at around $11 plus $0.25 a day. After the keg is cleaned and filled, it’s shipped off to the pub. The publican scans in the keg. At this point the cider maker stops paying rent and the punters get their fresh cider. These scan in and out times are fed back to the producers. For example Melbourne pubs go through the Cloudy Cider faster than the sweet cider while Sydney is drinking a lot of dries. The cider makers can tailor their production to better fit the needs of the market. Previously producers would need to rely on order numbers but these were slow. The analytics here are more precise because they include the times of production and consumption. It can also be sent to investors becuase they love to see growth in small businesses. My day job is all about big data so you can see why this pricked my interest.

While at GABS I spoke to the guys from ParrotDog a Kiwi brewery that uses Kegstar regularly. ParrotDog contract brew in Australia so having a warehouse full of kegs on this side of the Ditch is a bit of an odd idea if they don’t even have their own brewery here. They like the daily cost of the keg, which forces them to keep the beer fresh.

Don’t own your mobile assets. They don’t come back.

I’ll leave you with a little bit of history. Kegstar started in December of 2012 with 800 kegs and today have 24000 kegs across Australia and New Zealand. 3 million litres have been shipped in Kegstars kegs; of that 20% is cider. That’s testament to the growth in the craft drinks segment and the growth of cider in particular. Batlow Cider is a big user of the service. Anything that helps small-scale cider makers enter the market is a good thing in my book.

The lead photo is the Pan Head  stand at GABS

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