Do you brew your own beer? Do you want to start stashing your product away and allowing it to age for later consumption yet don't have enough space at home? If so, a self-storage unit may be the solution.
Decide if You Can Age Your Beer
Not all beer will fare well in long-term storage. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the alcohol content in the bottle, the better the beer will age. The sharpness of the alcohol allows plenty of room for the dulling-down and smoothing-out of flavors to occur before the beer begins to taste flat. Any bottles with an 8 percent alcohol volume or higher should store well.
Another factor to consider is the amount of hops in your beer. Avoid storing beers with a high hops content. While hops is used as a preservative, it's also used for flavor. Beers that rely heavily on the flavor of hops tend to be bitter with a citrus-like aroma. The aroma helps cut the bitterness and make it more appealing. Those citrus notes fade quickly, though and leave the beers tasting flat.
Darker and maltier beers, however, usually have deeper, more complex flavors that can benefit from being toned-down and blended by age. If you brew beer with a high alcohol content that doesn't derive much of its flavor from hops, then it's time to shop for a storage unit so you can store all the beer you want for later use.
Opt for a Climate-Controlled—Not a Refrigerated Unit
The perfect temperature for refrigeration is between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. If you shop for a refrigerated storage unit, you may be provided with a unit that stays within this temperature range but can't be adjusted. The ideal temperature for beer storage is 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Beers in storage shouldn't be brought all the way down to refrigerated temperatures until a few hours before they're ready to drink.
You want a climate-controlled storage unit to store your home-brew in so that you can maintain a steady temperature that is cool, but not refrigerated.
Keep Your Bottles Vertical
Keep all of your bottles vertical when placed in storage, regardless of whether they're sealed with caps or corks. While some home-brewers think that storing corked bottles in the horizontal position will keep the corks from drying out, it does more damage than good.
When corked bottles are stored on their side, the beer in them is in contact with the corks. Over time, the cork can interfere with the flavoring of the beer. Furthermore, storing bottles on their sides allows a greater amount of the beer inside of them to have contact with the air in the bottle. This speeds up oxidation and shortens the shelf life of the beer.
Minimize Light Exposure
The fact that storage units don't have any windows and remain largely undisturbed is great for your beer-storage plans. When compounds in hops are exposed to light, they break down into other compounds that are similar to the stinky stuff that skunks spray when they're frightened. Needless to say, this doesn't make for very good beer.
Your storage unit will be plenty dark enough to keep your beers from skunking, but for further protection against light, bottle any beers you plan to store in brown bottles and cover your stash with an opaque tarp or cloth.
Just because you don't have any extra room in your home doesn't mean that you can't store some of the beer you brew and let it age for later use. While not all beers age well, many do. Use the information above to determine whether or not your beer is a suitable candidate for long-term storage. If it is, start your stash by contacting a local storage unit facility and pricing out climate-controlled storage units.