Homebrewers know the struggle of finding the perfect spot to store your homebrew. In the garage? How about the attic? Maybe your closet? Unfortunately, there isn’t one clear-cut answer for where to stash your homebrew when it is conditioning.
During bottle conditioning, store your homebrew beer upright in a dark place for at least two weeks at a temperature of 65-75°F for ales and 39-50°F for lagers. Generally, cooler temperatures are best in all cases to avoid off-flavors while bigger, more complex beers will need additional aging time.
If you’re interested in knowing what those details are, as well as other tips and tricks for storing your homebrew, keep on reading. I’ll be covering where to store your beer both while it is conditioning, kegging, and fermenting.
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Where to store homebrew after bottling while it conditions
As most homebrewers know, conditioning is a vital step to your brewing process. Bottle conditioning refers to a method of adding fermenting wort or yeast suspension in sugar solution into beer in its final package. The result of this conditioning, also known as refermentation, is the lovely carbonation we enjoy in our beers. Without conditioning, your homebrew will end up flat and dull.
Because conditioning is important to your homebrew, finding the best place to store it for the several weeks it has to wait is just as important.
Due to the extended time frame of conditioning, it is imperative to select a place where the bottles will not be disturbed. Somewhere out of the way without a lot of foot traffic is ideal. The reasoning for this is disturbing the yeast while it is conditioning is likely to cause agitation, which in turn can negatively impact your homebrew’s taste.
Here are a few locations that might work for you:
- Unused bedroom
- Cellar (if you have one)
A lack of sunlight is also key. UV light from the sun can hurt the flavor of your homebrew. That is why using dark opaque bottles is preferable to clear ones. Additionally, you will want to select a storage spot that has no windows or some form of cabinet that need not be opened throughout the conditioning process.
How long should beer sit after bottling?
Depending on the type of beer you are brewing there are different time frames for how long your bottles should sit.
While you should never wait less than two weeks for conditioning to finish, here are some examples of different homebrew’s conditioning waiting periods:
- Stout: 2-4 weeks
- Ale: 2-4 weeks
- Wheat Beer: 2-4 weeks
- Lager: 4-12 weeks
- Belgian Ales: 3-6 months
Helpful Tip: Be sure to store your bottles standing upright not laying on their sides. If you condition your bottles on their sides the yeast is more likely to be agitated when you inevitably have to turn them upright.
What temperature to store beer after bottling?
Just as the timeframe for how long your homebrew should sit after bottling differs, the exact temperature you’ll want to store your beer at differs depending on the type of beer. For example, lagers style homebrews will often condition better in colder temps than ale style.
You will ideally want a consistently cool place to store your bottles. Oftentimes the same temperature you used for fermentation will work well for conditioning. I cover the exact temperature ranges for fermentation later on in this article. The exception to this is if you want to try cold conditioning.
Cold conditioning is typically used for ale-style beers and operates in a temperature range around 39-50°F (4-10°C). By storing your bottles at this cold temperature you can often improve the smoothness of your homebrew.
Should you refrigerate your beer after bottling?
You might be thinking to yourself now, what’s a cold dark place in my house? I know, the refrigerator! Yes, you can refrigerate your beer after bottling, but should you?
There are some downsides to storing your homebrew in the fridge while it is conditioning:
- Number one is difficulties in keeping the temperature consistent
- Number two is ensuring the temperature doesn’t get so cold that conditioning does not occur
- Number three is keeping light out
These downsides come with using a fridge that is often accessed for other items such as food and drinks. To avoid these problems, you can take measures such as using a refrigerator dedicated solely to store your homebrew. That way you can ensure the door isn’t opened frequently, thereby not affecting the temperature or letting any potential light in.
Where to store homebrew beer after kegging
Many homebrewers may opt for kegging their beer. This process allows for much faster carbonation compared to conditioning.
While bottle conditioning uses additive sugars to referment your homebrew creating carbonation – kegging often utilizes forced carbonation. Forced carbonation is exactly as the name sounds, CO2 is injected directly into the beer forcing the creation of carbonation. What does this mean for storing your beer after kegging though?
Here are some guide rules to follow when storing your keg:
- Keep it out of the sun
- Keep at it a temperature of 10˚C
- Never go below that temperature or use dry ice
- Keep it upright and still, never roll it
To make storage easier on yourself it is usually a good idea to get an opaque keg. That way you never have to worry about harmful sunlight and have more places to store it, such as a fridge or cooler.
In regards to temperature, I advise not storing your keg at room temperature whenever possible. When the temperature gets too high your homebrew will produce more foam causing a quicker loss of carbonation and flavor.
How to naturally carbonate beer in a keg
Forced carbonation is not the only method for carbonating your beer in a keg. It is possible to implement the same process of bottle conditioning in the keg.
If you are attempting to condition your beer in a keg the same rules for storage that I mentioned previously apply here. Keep it dark, cool, and consistent for the duration of the conditioning.
When naturally carbonating beer in a keg it’s recommended homebrewers keep the temperature around 65-75°F. This is because the refermentation process needs to happen in this larger vessel, and keeping it as cold as a keg that underwent forced carbonation would prevent the sugar from being processed.
Where to store fermenting homebrew beer
Now that we’ve covered where to store your homebrew while conditioning and after kegging, you may be asking yourself if you can store your fermenting homebrew beer in the same places. In this section, we’ll cover the differences between storing for conditioning versus fermenting.
Fermenting homebrew beer should be stored in a consistent and stable place. Similar to conditioning beer, fermenting homebrew beer always prefers a spot where the lights are off and it will not be moved. Depending on the type of yeast and beer you are homebrewing, you will set the temperature accordingly and keep it consistent while you wait.
Ale yeast, also known as top-fermenting yeast, typically ferments best at temperatures between 10-25°C or 50-77°F. These are mid-ranging temperatures that should be easy to maintain in your home or even outside in a shed during the correct seasons.
Helpful Tip: Learn what season suits the type of beer you want to brew best, depending on where you live it can be easier to maintain the appropriate temperature if it’s naturally occurring outside.
On the other hand, lager yeast, also known as bottom-fermenting yeast, prefers a colder range. Depending on the strain of lager yeast most homebrewers will see a range between 7-15°C or 44-59°F.
Be sure to store your fermenting homebrew in a place you don’t mind getting messy. Fermentation blowouts are common but can be avoided by following some key steps:
- Keep a consistent temperature to reduce blowout risk
- Don’t overfill your vessel
- Use a blowoff tube to reduce pressure when necessary
Should fermenting beer be kept in the dark?
As I mentioned previously, you want to keep your beer bottles stored in a dark place. UV rays from the sun can negatively impact your homebrew, causing foul odors or tastes at times. The same holds true for when you are fermenting your beer.
When finding a place to store your fermentor, be sure there is no sunlight. This is especially true if you are using a clear vessel for fermentation. Keep it behind a closed door or covered with something to prevent those harmful UV rays from hurting your homebrew.