Keg registration allows tracking of beer kegs from the time of purchase to the time the empty keg is returned to the vendor. The purpose of these laws is to deter adults from providing keg beer to minors and to identify and punish those who do. The laws are also designed to protect distributors from being accused of selling kegs to underage consumers.

Keg registration laws require wholesalers or retailers to attach a tag, sticker, or engraving with an identification number to kegs exceeding a specified capacity. When the keg is purchased, the retailer records identifying information about the purchaser. A refundable deposit may also be collected, but very few States specify whether a deposit is required and, if required, the amount of the deposit. For those States that do specify, the information appears in the footnotes to the chart below.

The recent introduction of disposable kegs presents a complicating factor for keg registration laws. These containers cannot be tagged or traced easily because they are meant to be disposed of when empty. This new technology suggests that deposit provisions are particularly important as a disincentive against destroying the keg, which defeats the purpose of the law. The analysis below indicates whether a State has a keg registration law, how “keg” is defined for the purposes of the keg provision, the type of purchaser information a retailer is required to obtain (and keep on file for a specified time period), and the type of information to be placed on kegs.

Currently, 22 States have keg registration provisions of the type analyzed in this document. The variables analyzed in the chart below are as follows:

  • Keg definition —This variable describes the minimum number of gallons a keg must hold to require registration. It varies from 2 to 16 gallons. One State (Rhode Island) does not specify the number of gallons needed to constitute a keg.

  • Purchaser information —All States that require keg registration require that the purchaser provide his or her name or signature on the registration form. Sixteen States require that the purchaser show some type of identification; 8 States allow the use of a driver's license, and 2 allow the use of car registration information. In addition, 4 States require that the purchaser specify where the keg will be consumed.

  • Type of identification label —In most States with keg registration, the ABC will either issue forms to be used to track purchasers or sales (10 States) or specify the forms to be used (13 States). In 3 States, the ABC department or agency must approve the form used by those who sell kegs.

(click to view Table)