Have you ever looked at that junky pile of home brewing gear and wanted to do something about it? Looked around for an hour for the grain bag? Streamlining your home brewery helps with production and with enjoyment of the hobby. By organizing your home brewery in an efficient manner and choosing your tools wisely, you can get rid of that unsightly mess.
Many a home brewer suffers from pack rat-itis. Honestly, there are many seemingly random objects which can come in quite handy when home brewing. One way to help cope with this pile of junk is a suitable shelving and storage system. When you are considering what manner of shelves to build to hold you brewing supplies, remember that you want to use a sturdy material. Also, you will want to have enough room for carboys to stand up in.
Another consideration is having a material that is easy to clean. For all of these reasons, metal shelves seem to be the best solution for organizing your home brewery. Chrome or nickel-plated shelves designed for the food industry are naturally good choices. Shelves from bakeries are particularly expedient, as they are usually very strongly built in order to handle heavy bags of flour, sugar, and the like.
Once you have started to organize, you may find that you have more room than you used to. With the extra space, you may want to build a keg rack or even get a draft beer refrigerator. Having the option of enjoying a cold home brewed draft beer is a pleasure for yourself and for your guests.
Going the keg route is another way to streamline your home brewery. It is always nice to have some bottle-conditioned ales around, but if you are bottling exclusively, you are probably hoarding used beer bottles and that takes up quite a lot of room. If you are bottling exclusively, try cutting down on the bottle collection and start looking for either Cornelius kegs or Sanke kegs so that you can really get down to business.
Some home brewers think that you need to know a lot to get into kegging, but this simply isn’t true. Kegging is easier and more efficient than bottling. You just have to pay attention to details, like with any new endeavor: make sure your kegs are in good shape and sanitized regularly; check your O-rings and replace them if damaged; and always be on the lookout for cheap used gear.
The main issue surrounding kegs is one of temperature. Bottles are very forgiving in respect to temperature, but kegs require cold in order to function their best. Building your own D.I.Y. kegerator is a good weekend project, and doesn’t require much investment – especially if you have (or a friend has) an old fridge that you would be getting rid of anyways. For less than $100 in parts and supplies, you can have a working kegerator.
Remember that streamlining your home brewery is an ongoing process. Look at what you have, do a mental inventory, and think about what you have before purchasing any new tools or brewing supplies. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, ‘Have I used this in the last six months?’ If the answer is no, you should consider getting rid of it.