BEER 101: Storage

Text by Mark Baune • Photography by Jim Wells

BEER ROOM, the name evokes many images. It can be an old refrigerator in the garage or on the porch. How about the floor of your closet? Or better yet, how about the whole closet in a spare bedroom? If you are lucky, like me, and have an understanding bride, you might get the whole spare bedroom. Having a Beer Room comes with responsibility, especially when it comes to storing beer that requires extended aging. Sunlight is the nemesis of beer, so keeping light and heat off your reserve is critical. When ultra violet rays strike your delicate stash of brews, they interact with the acidic hop compounds called humulones. This creates a nasty chemical reaction which produces a noxious chemical similar to the stuff a skunk sprays when it’s frightened… hence the term “skunky”. This is often a sign of a “light struck” beer. Temperature fluctuations from extreme cold to extreme hot will wreak havoc on your beer. The best to store are the dark bottles. Clear and green bottles allow in significantly more UV light than the brown but, they can still be stored, just keep them in a closed up box. The higher alcohol and darker beers will store or lay down better than the lighter brews. I just opened some 2005 Big Foot Barley Wine that clocks in at 9.9% and it is wonderful! And, always store beer upright. Yeast is critical to beer, but the sediment it leaves behind has a way of ruining the flavor. Keeping them upright allows the yeast sediment to settle at the bottom of the beer. Decades ago, when I began storing beer, I just stacked it in a corner on the floor. The light was hitting it at various times of the day and the temperature was up and down like a yoyo. I smartened up a bit and moved it into boxes and stored them on the floor of a closet. This worked much better as the temperature was fairly even and no natural light got to it. The only problem… I ran out of room. I patiently waited until the kids were out of the house and sweet talked my bride into half of a spare bedroom. I worked my way up to three quarters and eventually, I got the whole room. I’ve since placed a room darkening shade on the window complete with a nice beer themed inner shade for a touch of character. The in-room air conditioner runs 24/7 365 days a year and maintains a 55 to 65F range. It has one low watt single bulb and a door draft dodger on the outside. I recently discovered the COOLBOT. This device allows most air conditioners to go lower than the set temperatures but only works on a select few. A new AC unit is on the wish list. My next step is to move the beer room/brewery into a shed in the back yard as my bride would like the bedroom back. All I lack is time and money, no problem right? I guess it is time to go, oh look, I just found a 2007 Alaskan Smoked Porter, Dear God, I love this room! – CHEERS, Beer Man