Help, I’m drowning in home brewing supplies!

Posted by
Carboy(full)My partner has just gotten into home brewing, and I am constantly tripping over empty glass bottles, utility buckets, glass carboys, and plastic tubing!

Our teeny apartment (550 square feet) is packed to the gills as it is.

Anyone have any advice or tips on keeping the brewing supplies corralled, neat, and stored in a small space?

I know we have a lot of home brewing Homies. What are all y’alls storage solutions? (And also, as a side note, The Empire is always happy to receive samples.)

Comments on Help, I’m drowning in home brewing supplies!

  1. When I first met my homebrewer of a husband he was living in an apartment and he and his also-a-homebrewer room mate had taken the smallest, least convenient closet (it was in the living room, so no one really used it for anything aside from storing folding chairs) and turned it into brewing equipment storage. There was also a closet to hide the apartment’s hot water tank, and that was a good place to store buckets and carboys. For tubing or smaller items and gadgets, you could use plastic bins designed to hideaway under beds, chairs or couches.

  2. – stackable milk crates for storing empty bottles
    – large plastic bin for hoses, siphon, buckets, etc. – doubles as a tub for sanitizing items on brewing days. Still takes up a lot of space but at least everything is corralled.
    – You can brew lots of beers without the glass carboy, so stash that somewhere out of the way.

    • I was going to say pretty much this exact thing, as this is how we do our storage. That, and big, 5 gallon buckets for brewing/bottling that double as storage when not in use.

  3. Do you have room for a sturdy wire shelf unit like those in kitchens? I would imagine that you could get one large and strong enough to handle carboys. Other supplies could go into buckets or bins (decorative ones if you want to disguise the stuff). Maybe you could even have space for other non-brewing stuff on the shelf too.

    I also agree with Kisså’s suggestion about storing stuff under couches. I had a total BASKETS! moment recently when I realized that under-the-bed boxes would work equally well under our couches.

    Empty bottles could actually be kind of decorative up on a high shelf (over a door?) or cabinet.

    • We recently moved into a 2bath rental house, and one bathroom has been christened “The Brewery.” We have wire kitchen shelving and keep the glass carboys on the bottom shelf. Getting a furniture dolly or a rolling plant base really helps with moving full carboys around.

      Before that we lived in a smaller apartment that had hard-to-work-with space. It was all over the apartment, but worked.
      -One wall was lined with empty bottles on floating shelves, as suggested above
      – A tall skinny rectangular trash bin held tubing, siphon, and the wort chiller.
      -We use Corny kegs that are tall cylinders and fit in an apartment fridge with the shelves removed. We used the top of the fridge as extra counter space in the kitchen.
      -One cabinet shelf held all the bottle caps, airlocks, funnels, corks, corker, capper, funnels, grain socks, cheese cloth, gypsum, etc.
      -one shelf on the fridge door held yeasts/hops/moss.
      -malt was stored with baking supplies in the kitchen cabinet
      -we use the tub for sanitizing
      -brushes hung on a peg on the wall
      -idophor stayed in the bathroom with cleaning supplies
      -one large tub was used for fermenting (cover with Tshirt in 2-3 in of water to keep cool) and when that was happening it was in the corner of the LR or 2nd BR or underneath the sofa table in the entry way. That was the kind of ugly part.
      -the camp stove stayed in the corner of the kitchen under the small folding table that held our Aerogrow
      -Propane tank was outside the back door. Got lifted (grumble) but only after 4 years.

  4. There comes a point where is get’s out of control. Like our house, where I can’t walk in the door with my backpack without knocking over one of the 150 or so empty bottles. Who knew you could drop a beer bottle 10 times from 5 feet in the air onto concrete without it breaking.
    I’ve even found bottle caps in my clothes drawers. I have NO idea how.

    The brewing stuff is pretty contained, we keep most tubes, cleaner, funnels, etc in the bottling bucket. But we have 2-3 empty carboys in the living room at any time, and tubing over the rod in the bathroom, and bottles and caps everywhere.

    Someday, we will have a brewing closet. I will put shelves for fermenting carboys, and there will be space to sore everything brewing related out of sight.
    I don’t really have any suggestions, just commiseration. I brew mead also, but man does the stuff take over a tiny studio apartment.

    • OMG I am SO glad that I am not the only person who is overwhelmed with all the supplies. I swear, it is either not enough room in the bedroom because there are so many bottles or, there is not enough room in the fridge for food because there is beer in there! Such a yummy and messy hobby.

  5. when my husband was big into home brewing we put metal shelving in the bath tub of the second bathroom, then I could close the curtain and hide everything behind the shower curtain!

    I know that won’t work for your small space, but don’t forget about the forgotten space above the kitchen cabinets! Now that we only have one bathroom we use the metal shelves as a kitchen pantry and he brews in 1 gallon batches in apple juice jugs on the lower 2 shelves. We got rid of the 5 gallon brewing pot and store all the various little pieces in a big canning pot that we use for making worts, etc.

    Small batch brewing lets you experiment more and take up smaller space, it just doesn’t really make as much to share. If you’re looking for a small batch brewing book, I strongly suggest the book Strong Waters.

    • Small brewing! SUCH a good idea! I am proposing that ASAP because the nasty bad pumpkin beer has been sitting in my fridge for like a million years!

  6. We keep our brewing equipment on our teeny tiny apartment patio and in the spare bathroom’s bathtub.
    Stacking crates could work well. Also, you would be amazed at how cleaner everything feels if you just get everything up off the floor [even if it’s not necessarily out of sight]. We use one of those towel hooks that go over the top of the door to hang hosing and bought cheap shelving for bottles.

  7. We bought a cheap shelving unit from IKEA to store most of our brewing equipment. Here’s a picture:

    Unfortunately, the glass carboy doesn’t fit underneath when it has an airlock in it, so our secondary sits in a closet now. I cut out some cardboard to make the shelf sturdier around the bottle storage, and we put bottled brews in that area. You could also use it to store empty bottles.

    I also added a blackout curtain to keep your beer out of light–just bought a few yards of heavy felt (cheap!) and safety-pinned it to the shelves like a table skirt.

  8. So our solution is to use an out-of-the-way closet and use that for storage. It’s literally top to bottom full of stuff, and a shelf is in the works. We use a lot of the brew buckets for storage when not in use. We have a strict limit of 48 bottles (and a few deuces and liters that pop up), and all bottles have a box to be stored in. We use the closet for fermenting and brewing because it’s actually pretty cool in there, and dark. Sometimes it explodes all over the kitchen on brew day or bottling day, but we get real tired of that fast and away it goes back into the closet.

  9. Tell your partner to keep the supplies in his/her corner (or room, if you are lucky enough to have a special room for each of you). THis helps us stay rather sane… all the writing supplies, knittung and sewing stuff and the books are in my office, and most of the computer-related stuff is in his office.

  10. A bit of commiserating: Our bathroom has been taken over – boxes of bottles, full and empty. Luckily, I can get as many as I want from work and I’ve managed (pretty successfully) to keep everything contained in the bathroom. Its the easiest place to clean, and since there is not enough room in the fridge, I keep waiting for the day when I hear “pop, fizz” and there is an explosion all over!

    Maybe I could beg him to drink some more before he brews some more. Or just have a party!

  11. I have had to give up far too much of my pantry. I did recently repurpose a cabinet I found into a craft table and the hubs stashes equipment beneath it. Also big fan of our new baskets hanging from the ceiling it gives more counter space, maybe you could put spare bottles up high.

  12. I gave him the closet in our second bedroom! Not an option for everyone I understand, but much better than having it all over the place. I was happy to get rid of some clothes so he could have the space, and now I have more space in the kitchen. We installed shelves in the closet too, which is where he stores beer we are aging or saving for a special occasion

  13. You can fit 32 twelve ounce bottles in a box that a ream of printer paper comes in! It works for empty bottles and full bottles because they don’t let light in. They’re not pretty, but would be easy to cover with pretty paper. They also make great cat beds, apparently.
    We also have one big storage bin with lots of little storage bins (LME containers and dishwasher packet containers) for all the small parts/ingredients (priming sugar, bottle caps, misc. hardware, stoppers/airlocks). Almost everything fits in that one big storage bin. It also saves a lot of time to be able to pull everything out and put it away in one trip.
    We also only buy from homebrew shops that will let us buy in the exact quantities that we want to avoid storing extra grains.

  14. Regarding bottle problems…I very much like having the Corny kegs. 3 of them can fit into a 1/2 fridge and we just use a picnic tap. No bottle conditioning (except on whatever doesn’t fit into the keg, plus we always archive a bottle from each batch). If you can afford the initial layout of fridge, kegs, C02 tanks, regulator, and taps, it will clear up your bottle problem.

Join the Conversation