Beer Keg Registration


Beer keg registration requires retailers to tag, sticker, or engrave an identification number on kegs that exceed a specified capacity (two- to eight-gallon minimum depending on the state). Tagged kegs help law enforcement officers identify the liable adult who purchased the keg used in underage drinking situations.


To reduce social availability of alcohol to underage youth

Typical Elements

  • Understand the parameters of the state (or local) beer keg registration law, if one exists (NIAAA, n. d.; Wagenaar, Harwood, Silianoff, & Toomey, 2005). Points of interest can include:
    • Does the state or community ban kegs altogether?
    • To whom does the law apply? Buyers? Sellers? Others?
    • What are the requirements for collecting sales information? For example, is information collected on where the keg is to be consumed?
    • What are the requirements for affixing identification tags or labels to kegs?
    • What are the requirements regarding provision of warning information at the time of purchase about service to minors?
    • What are the requirements for collecting beer keg deposits?
    • How is the law enforced?
    • What penalties apply for violations of the law?
    • Does the law provide for educating buyers, sellers, and law enforcement agents?
    • Tip: State-level information on key components of beer keg registration laws can be found at the Alcohol Policy Information System website.
  • Individuals/organizations with the expertise to draft a keg registration policy that provides clear guidance for keg distributors (e.g., wholesalers, bars) on (Gabriel et al., 2008; Imm et al., 2007; Wagenaar et al., 2005):
    • Marking kegs with a unique identification number
    • Recording keg ID number, along with the keg purchaser’s contact information and driver’s license number at the time of purchase
    • Keeping a record of each keg purchase for a specified length of time (preferably 6 months or more)
    • Withholding keg deposit if a keg is returned with the ID number removed
  • Keg registration policies that establish penalties for seller or buyer violations (e.g., removing or tampering with the keg number or possessing an unregistered/unlabeled keg). While penalties are often vaguely defined in state laws, some concrete examples include (NIAAA, n. d.; Wagenaar et al., 2005):
    • Fines ranging from $500 to $6,250
    • Gross misdemeanor leading to jail time and/or a fine and criminal record
    • Establishment license suspension or revocation if seller does not comply
  • Education and training on the community’s keg registration laws to key stakeholder groups, including liquor retailers, underage youth and their parents, and law enforcement agencies. Training topics could include (Imm et al., 2007):
    • Role of social access to alcohol in underage drinking
    • How keg registration can help prevent underage drinking and related consequences
    • Penalties and liabilities associated with violating keg registration laws
  • Enforcement components that increase knowledge of and compliance with keg registration laws and perceptions regarding the probability of getting caught (e.g., compliance checks, alcohol purchase surveys, and party patrols) (Wagenaar et al., 2005).


  • Liquor outlets
  • Law enforcement
  • Youth under age 21 and/or their parents, specifically
  • Social hosts, in general


  • No outcome data found for role of keg registration laws on their own in preventing underage drinking and/or its consequences.
  • When combined with other alcohol control policies (e.g., happy hour restrictions, open container laws), keg registration laws have been associated with significantly less underage binge drinking (Wechsler, Lee, Nelson, & Kuo, 2002) and moderately associated with lower rates of (Ringwalt & Paschall, 2011):
    • Per capita beer consumption
    • Adolescent binge drinking
    • Adolescents who drove after drinking
    • Adolescents who rode in cars whose drivers had been drinking


A Practical Guide to Preventing and Dispersing Underage Drinking Parties

Policies to Reduce Social Access to Alcohol

Preventing Underage Drinking: Using Getting to Outcomes™ with the SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework to Achieve Results

Retail Sales: Keg Registration

What Works for Health: Policies and Programs to Improve Wisconsin’s Health


Athena Forum: Excellence in Prevention


Gabriel, R., Becker, L., Leahy, S. K., Landy, A. L., Metzger, J., Orwin, R., . . . Stein-Seroussi, A. (2008, April 30). Assessing the fidelity of implementation of the Strategic Prevention Framework in SPF SIG-funded communities: User’s guide and fidelity assessment rubrics (version 2).

Imm, P., Chinman, M., Wandersman, A., Rosenbloom, D., Guckenburg, S., & Leis, R. (2007). Preventing underage drinking: Using Getting To Outcomes™ with the SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework to achieve results. Retrieved from

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retail sales: Keg registration. Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS) Web site. Retrieved from

Ringwalt, C. L., & Paschall, M. J. (2011). The utility of keg registration laws: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(1), 106–108. Retrieved from

Wagenaar, A. C., Harwood, E. M., Silianoff, C., & Toomey, T. L. (2005). Measuring public policy: The case of beer keg registration laws. Evaluation and Program Planning, 28(4), 359–367.

Wechsler, H., Lee, J. E., Nelson, T. F., & Kuo, M. (2002). Underage college students’ drinking behavior, access to alcohol, and the influence of deterrence policies: Findings from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Survey. Journal of American College Health, 50(5), 223–236.