It’s not uncommon for hobbies and projects to take up more than their fair share of space around the house, but if your hobby is more about creating and enjoying than collecting and displaying, a self storage unit could be the perfect compromise.
Homebrewing is the perfect example of a pastime that’s more about process and product than glass display cases or mint-condition boxes. While it may seem like the number of craft beers and local breweries near you has never been higher, that hasn’t slowed the growth of homebrewing at all. Whether you make brews that are completely unique or just delight in the possibility of an ale that’s all yours, having a dedicated space for your equipment can be a huge help.
Is a Storage Unit Really Necessary?
Many people view storage units as stopgaps to space issues rather than long-term solutions. However, in the case of the homebrewer, having a dedicated space for both the equipment and the finished product can be a huge asset.
Duncan Bryant, web coordinator for the American Homebrewers Association, says beginner brewers can start small, as they’re learning the basics of making their own beer extract. Bryant says that beginners will need between 10 and 15 items for the simplest processes, including basic pieces like measuring cups and spoons to more specialized equipment like a fermenter bucket.
“Most of [the basic] stuff will fit nicely into part of a coat closet,” Bryant says, but adds that it doesn’t take long for brewers to start amassing equipment (not to mention their growing stock of finished beers).
“Because brews need a dark space, self storage is an excellent option.”
Kim Strong, on-site manager with Extra Self Storage
Bill Jimerson, retail manager at Great Fermentations, agrees that the hobby often starts out small but grows rapidly. “My own personal brewery includes an area that takes up 1/4 of my two-car garage,” he says. “That doesn’t include the space needed in the house to store the fermenting beer!”
A storage unit can be very helpful for storing home-brewed beer and its equipment, especially if you find yourself brewing seasonally. Lots of brewers will be at it year-round, but Bryant explains that many homebrewers choose to work outside.
“Once temperatures get below freezing, a lot of brewers might hang up their mash paddle until the warmer months return,” Bryant says. “On the flip side, folks who live in regions that get exceptionally hot may wait until the cooler months because beer generally ferments at 55-75°F, and if you don’t have a fridge to maintain these temperatures, you can turn out some off-flavored beers.”
For seasonal brewers, a storage unit will not only afford space for equipment in the months that it’s not needed, but also an environment that can keep the finished product in great condition.
Selecting a Storage Unit for Home-Brewed Beer
Most facility managers won’t allow tenants to brew onsite, so a storage facility for homebrewers will be all about storing the equipment and the finished product. This means that brewers don’t need to seek out large units (In fact, a 5×5 or 5×10 should do), making for affordable leases that can still accommodate storage needs.
Brewers should be sure to ask the manager of the facility they’re considering if bottled brews are allowed, but it’s likely that the answer will be yes. Many facilities already accommodate wine storage, so storing beer shouldn’t be an issue.
Shelby Beck, manager at Extra Self Storage, says finished brews are more than welcome in self storage, as long as they’re sealed properly and the tenant discloses the presence of alcohol in their contract.
“Homebrew bottles are sealed very well,” Bryant says. “We only use caps that are crimped on, not the twist style. The cappers that are available are pretty efficient.”
An additional benefit of using a storage unit for equipment and finished batches of beer comes in the environment that storage units provide naturally—darkness.
“‘Cellaring’ beer is the process of aging beers in a controlled environment that encourages steady, gradual aging.”
Duncan Bryant, web coordinator with American Homebrewers Association
Kim Strong, on-site manager with Extra Self Storage, says “because brews need a dark space, self storage is an excellent option.” While facilities themselves are well-lit, individual storage units generally don’t boast light fixtures. As a result, the contents of your unit will be kept in the dark—that is, of course, unless you come to visit.
This bodes well for beer, which can be majorly effected by light. “Light can cause a ‘skunky’ characteristic if it reaches the beer, which is why brown bottles are so popular…[they block out the most light],” says Bryant.
Jimerson adds that “the more we can keep our bottles in the dark, the better the beer will taste.”
Bryant and Jimerson agree that a stable, cool temperature is best for beer, too. This means you may want to look at a climate-controlled storage unit when it’s time to store home-brewed beer. With this storage feature, you can eliminate temperature and humidity fluctuations that can negatively affect brews.
“‘Cellaring’ beer is the process of aging beers in a controlled environment that encourages steady, gradual aging,” Bryant explains. The darkness and reliable temperatures of a climate-controlled unit (Bryant and Jimerson agree that a cool 50-60°F is best) can create a perfect environment for storing beer.
Storing Homebrewing Equipment in Mini Storage
As with any type of storage, there’s the easy way, and there’s the right way. As far as storing homebrewing equipment is concerned, the right way is all about keeping things clean and organized.
“Cleaning and sanitation are key to making good beer,” Jimerson says, adding that, as the hobby has evolved, so have the sanitation products.
Bryant says equipment containing outside bacteria can disrupt the fermentation process or give your beer “sour off-flavors—and not that type of ‘sour’ that people will pay for.”
“Cleaning and sanitation are key to making good beer.”
Bill Jimerson, retail manager at Great Fermentations
Both Bryant and Jimerson suggest cleaning equipment as soon as you’re finished using it, allowing the pieces to dry completely before storing to discourage the growth of mold and bacteria.
Once equipment is clean and dry, you’re ready to move it into storage. Since beer brewing is done in stages, Bryant says it can be helpful to store supplies according to the phases in which they’re used. “Often, pieces from different brewing phases are not needed at the same time,” he says.
Strong suggests plastic containers with sealed lids as well, which keeps items clean and organized. “We would also suggest placing portable shelving in a unit, [like] Gorilla Racks or Rubbermaid plastic shelves, for storage of finished brews since it’s recommended that the bottles are stored in the upright position,” she says.
A storage unit is the ideal place to store finished brews and keep homebrewing equipment ready for your next brewing adventure! Convenient locations and affordable rent can help homebrewers make the move into a storage facility that will allow them to craft wonderful beer without crowding their closets and kitchens.