View Full Version : Is Cold Storage Really Important???

06-01-2015, 09:58 PM
We are building out a brewery and have realized that there is a significant difference in cost between building out a true cold storage space and building an insulated room that we can keep around 64 degrees. What potential problems could I have if I store my beer around 65 degrees rather than 35-40 degrees?

Thanks in advance!

Kevin Jones

06-01-2015, 10:48 PM
In short: Problems. Bad ones.

Oxidative reactions are temperature dependent. Your beer will, all things being equal, stale and go bad faster stored at room temperatures than it will just hanging out cold. If you've got the gear to sterilize and purge the heck out of it, and pasteurize it for eternity, then it might be ok at room temperatures, but as you're asking this question I'm assuming...not so much.

Quick and Dirty: see e.g., a graph titled "Temperature Kills Living Beer" based on a paper Charlie Bamforth wrote in 04 (http://www.thebruery.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/temperature-kills-living-beer.jpg). At 64F you're looking at three months max before 'pronouced' staling. Versus maybe four times that storing it in the high 30's F.

dick murton
06-01-2015, 11:19 PM
I'm surprised he gives it as long as he does at even 10 or 20 C. Cask beer (i.e, containing yeast) in the uk is normally given an absolute top shelf life of 6 weeks, though generally is considered better at something less than 4 weeks after packaging - assuming say 15 C in the pub cellar. Considerable time spent running sample rooms, and subsequent time spent as part of taste panels, indicates most filtered and pasteurised beers (with large brewery quality pasteurisation control) are starting to go well and truly stale at 3 months, and often less if the oxygen control is not brilliant.

06-02-2015, 06:39 AM
I agree with the 2 above posters but what if he just needs temporary storage lets say a week or so before his distributors come pick it up I would then consider that a viable option. I know I might have made a right turn with that but it has something I have used in the past

06-02-2015, 06:56 AM
Thanks everyone. This is great feedback. And I appreciate the quick responses. I would be curious to hear thoughts on Mike's post too. We absolutely have plans to build a cold storage space but didn't know if we could get by in our first year without if we were trying to move the inventory quickly. If that is a viable option what's the longest you would keep it at 64? I assume the distributors keep their warehouse down in the 30's?

brewmaster 2011
06-02-2015, 07:48 AM
When I lived in munich, some breweries and bottle shops would leave kegs and bottles outside in the sun and never had and issue and their shelf life seamed to be at around 6 months.

Mike Elliott
06-02-2015, 08:04 AM
At my last job, the rule of thumb was that one day at 70F equaled 10 days at 32F for packaged beer.

O2 control in the package wasn't great.

I highly recommend building a cooler.

06-02-2015, 08:12 AM
Where do you plan to store your hops? Harvested yeast waiting for re-pitching? These things do not like to be stored warm either...

06-02-2015, 08:31 AM
I assume the distributors keep their warehouse down in the 30's?

Any distributor should be keeping draft beer cold, but don't ever assume anything with distributors. Ask, get the answer in writing, and check up on them occasionally to make sure they are actually doing what they say they are.

06-02-2015, 08:44 AM
Where do you plan to store your hops? Harvested yeast waiting for re-pitching? These things do not like to be stored warm either...

I had thought about that. If it came down to it we would store these in temp regulated chest freezers/fridges. Not ideal but if we had to we would.

06-02-2015, 10:40 AM
This is your first year of operation--your first and only chance to make a great first impression. One stale keg/case can cost you big right now.

A finished-product cooler is a start-up cost. There are several walk-in coolers in the used section of the Classifieds here at any given time. A refrigerated shipping container might be another option--these can sometimes be leased.

06-03-2015, 02:46 AM
Search ebay and craigslist for Used coolers with or without refrigeration units. You can piece one together for less than the cost of building an insulated room and trying to keep it at 64*. The guy I bought my box from told me I could use residential condensing units and it worked. Had to change out the TXV s on the evaporators but after that been running cold for 8 months.

06-03-2015, 04:55 AM
Don't open your brewery if you don't have a cooler. It's a need not a want.

Now that said, it's easy to build a cooler on a budget. We framed up ours, insulated it with expanded polystyrene from the hardware store, and used two 10,000 BTU air conditioners to cool it. (This is for 14' x 10') air conditioners don't usually go below 60 degrees but if you either buy a coolbot, or rig in your own temp controller to the compressor you can bypass the factory temp control. All said and done we built our cooler for under $2K. It has been chilling our beer to 40 degree serving temps for almost a year now.

There are also used coolers on the market that would be an affordable option.

06-03-2015, 11:13 AM
Or install a glycol circulated fan coil. Our 20x12 cold room is cooled by on fan coil plumbed into our glycol loop, so there's no extra (and usually loud) refrigeration unit for our cold room. Think it was about $3k new. http://gdchillers.com/products/glycol-circuited-fan-coils/

06-05-2015, 05:09 AM
Thanks for the advice everybody! We'll cough up the extra coin to build the cold storage room from day one but I've got some great ideas now on how to do it for less. I really appreciate it.


06-05-2015, 12:44 PM
Check out the cool bot site for good info on DIY cold rooms. Check your local codes to make sure the health department doesn't have a say in your cold storage

06-06-2015, 10:58 AM
We built our own product cooler using alternating 2X6 studs--one set on the inner wall, one on the outer, alternating to prevent thermal bridging and filled with high-density blown-in insulation. Total wall insulation thickness is 12". Ours is cooled with a glycol coil from the brewery glycol system. An insulated over-head door provides forklift access. The cooler works great in all weather.

If I were doing it again, I'd use steel Z-studs and sprayed-in-place closed cell foam insulation for better insulation and most importantly, nearly zero moisture infiltration--a serious problem with DIY coolers. I'd also have it on its own refrigeration system--too many eggs in one basket if the chiller breaks down.

If you do use permeable insulation, remember that the vapor barrier goes on the warm side of the wall--the outside in this case, but having one on both sides would be cheap insurance. Most building contractors have some difficulty grasping the concept of vapor barriers, and the consequences of vapor infiltration and condensation are rotted wall structures.