There are three categories of sources for specialty beers sold by the keg: beer and liquor retailers that specialize in craft beers and/or kegs, breweries and brew pubs and large or mainstream retailers such as Beverages & More or the liquor departments of some markets. A selection of keg specialists and brewers is listed below. For information about choices at a large chain retailer, ask at your neighborhood store.
The price of the keg depends on what it contains. A 5-gallon keg of a craft beer will usually be in the $60 to $80 range; some imports may be more than $150. A jockey box rents for $30 to $50 (including CO2), but not all places rent them. For a pump-tap rig, prices are $9 to $25 plus a $40 to $65 deposit; $20 deposit on the keg (you can also rent an ice tub for about $5 to $7 plus a $10 to $60 deposit).
Mr. Kegs, 17871 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 847-0799; www.mrkegs.com. A tiny place, but it has more than 100 beers in keg on hand and can special-order any beer available on tap in the area. Place an order by Wednesday for Friday delivery. Sample choices: Chimay Tripel (Abbaye des Scourmont), Pyramid Hefe Weizen.
Hi-Time Wine Cellars, 250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463, (800) 331-3005; www.hitimewine.net. Despite its name, this is the leading beer store in the L.A. area, with a walk-in refrigerated beer room. It has 70 to 100 beers in keg on hand and can special-order any beer available on tap in the area. Place an order by Wednesday for Friday delivery. Sample choices: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Firehouse Hefe Weiss.
King of Kegs, 5241 W. Rosecrans Ave., Hawthorne, (310) 536-9414; www.kingkeg.com. Located in Ramp West Market & Liquor. About 50 beers in keg on hand; inquire about special orders. Place orders early. Sample choices: Firestone Walker Pale Ale, Affligem Blonde.
Draft Beer & Home Brew Store, 18228 Parthenia St., Northridge, (818) 349-0287; call to have keg list faxed to you. An odd combination of party store and brewers' supply place that has at least 25 beers in keg on hand and can special-order about 100 others. Place an order on Wednesday for Friday delivery. Sample choices: Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Widmer Hefeweizen.
Ramirez Liquor and Kegs, 736 S. Soto St., L.A., (323) 261-2915; www.ramirezliquor.com. The beer capital of downtown sells 100 beers in keg, but relatively few in the 5-gallon size; place order four or five days in advance. Sample choices: BayHawk Honey Blonde, Coronado Islandweizen.
Breweries and brewpubs
Alcatraz Brewing Co., The Block at Orange, 20 City Blvd. West, Suite R-1, Orange, (714) 939-8686; www.alcatrazbrewing.com. (Honey Blonde Ale)
Angel City Brewing Co., 833 W. Torrance Blvd., Suite 105, Torrance, (310) 329-8881, www.angelcitybrewing.com. (Vitzen)
Craftsman Brewing Co., 1260 Lincoln Ave., Unit 100, Pasadena, (626) 296-2537, www.craftsmanbrewing.com. (Heavenly Hefe)
Newport Beach Brewing Co., 2920 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-8449. (The Wedge Weizen)
Pizza Port Brewing Co., 301 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 940-0005, www.pizzaport.com. (Trestles Special Golden)
Red Car Brewery & Restaurant, 1266 Sartori Ave., Torrance, (310) 782-0222, www.redcarbrewery.com. (Winsome Wheat)
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, 1 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 308-2255, www.rockbottom.com. (Great White Wheat)
Skyscraper Brewing Co., 3229 Durfee Ave., El Monte, (626) 474-0770, www.skyscraperbrewing.com. (Bulldozer Honeyweizen)
Steelhead Brewing Co., Marketplace Shopping Center, 4175 Campus Drive, Irvine, (949) 856-2227, www.steelheadbrewery.com. (Barracuda Blonde)
-- Charles Perry