How well do wine fridges work for cellering?

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by m4ttj0nes, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. m4ttj0nes

    m4ttj0nes Feb 21, 2012 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    I'm thinking about picking up a wine fridge, and was wondering if it will be any better than the closet I'm using now. The closet I'm using doesn't have much variation in temp, and stays relatively cool. One of the issues I'm having with the wine fridge is storing the beers on their sides, I've heard positive and negative things about not storing a beer upright.

    Pic of fridge for reference:

  2. Jeffh97

    Jeffh97 Jan 18, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Ideally you dont want to cellar beer on its side. I would pass. I've only seen it go back in forth on caged and corked beers.
  3. PGHbeer77

    PGHbeer77 Jan 16, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I've seen pics people have posted of wine fridges they use to cellar bottles upright. They take out the factory made shelves and install a shelf (plywood, etc.) about halfway up.

    Anyone have this setup that can provide a pic?
  4. wyatt

    wyatt Nov 18, 2009 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    I have that set up, but don't have a picture. It is really just a wine fridge with plywood in it though. It works great.
  5. azureoval

    azureoval Jan 25, 2010 California

    I use a wine fridge for some of my beer. I use part of it as a "queue" for beers that I plan on drinking soon. It keeps most beers at the perfect temp for drinking. I have had beers like Abyss in there for well over a year on its side with no difference in flavor to Abyss I have stored upright. Real long term storage might be a different story but I have no plans on keeping anything that long. I choose to keeps the bottles on their side because I can fit more bottles that way. I have about 45 bottles in my fridge that is no more that waist tall.
    (Blu Ray Box Set for reference)
    PaulStoneAnchor likes this.
  6. rmalinowski4

    rmalinowski4 Oct 22, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I have one where I replaced the wine bottle shelves with the white wire shelving that is typically used in closets. I have two different upper shelves, one is solid and is used for all 12 oz bottles (I can fit just over 100 this way). The other has a section of the wire cut out to accommodate larger format bottles. (I can fit 20 large and just over 50 12oz this way). Will try to post some pics after dinner.
  7. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    can you lay those wine fridges on their backs and open it like a chest style freezer? or are there fans and other gadgetry that prevent that?
  8. JRod1969

    JRod1969 Nov 23, 2010 New York

    I have three wine fridges that I have lightly modified for beer. Basically, I planned to use plywood for shelves to allow for upright storage, but was worried that it would not allow air to circulate properly resulting in hot and cold sections. Instead, I had custom shelves made (good friend in metal fabrication business) from thin steel. They are crazy strong and include 1 inch diameter cutouts every few inches for circulation. Also, I was able to drop some shelves down or raise some up to allow for maximum storage while still using the fridges' shelf slots. Lastly, I place a black piece of thick paper over the glass doors (internally) to shield the light. Could not be happier.
  9. NittanyBeerFan

    NittanyBeerFan Apr 18, 2007 Pennsylvania

    They generally cool like regular fridges; so coil, fans, etc on the back.
  10. rmalinowski4

    rmalinowski4 Oct 22, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Here are some pics of the inside of my fridge.

    I bought a 8 foot section of the shelving and used a metal saw to cut to size. I used some heave duty wire cutters to cut off some of the rows to fit the larger bottles. I also have a shelf with no cut out to fit all 12 oz or smaller bottles. There is a small fan installed in the top to help with circulation, it really helped to stabalize the temps. I try to run it at 45 degrees, but the temp varries some with ambient temperature. I have had it for 15 months now with no problems.
  11. jpsy422

    jpsy422 Jul 12, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    The big flats beer :eek: haha.

    that's a nice set up tho.
  12. rmalinowski4

    rmalinowski4 Oct 22, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Cooking beer or maybe an "extra special extra" for a regular trading partner. I am aging it, it is already over a year old.
  13. jpsy422

    jpsy422 Jul 12, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Nothing ruins a brat quite like BFB. haha.

    One of these days I'm going to invite over some serious beer geeks and have a tasting with Big Flats, Hamms, and Natty Ice. Take it really seriously and just see what they do.
    wezzul likes this.
  14. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Mar 18, 2010 California

    Nothing goes together quite like a blue Gatorade and a Skor bar.
    DanE, bruindre and claaark13 like this.
  15. rmalinowski4

    rmalinowski4 Oct 22, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I think the Backwoods Bastard or Down N Dirty would go better, but my preference on the candy are the Crispy Crunch bars from Canada. They are kind of like a Butterfinger, but much more peanut butter flavor.
  16. claaark13

    claaark13 Nov 29, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    I recently got a sweet deal on a 150 bottle wine cooler that I couldn't pass up. I intend to build a standing shelf for a large number of De Dolle bottles and other capped bottles.

    Today, however, I opened it when the sun was shining through our back glass door and I noticed a HUGE amount of condensation collected on the bottles. Enough to start messing with some labels. So, I had to move it to a cool/shaded part of the house. My biggest gripe is that I am realizing that I "need" another one of these. My wife is not happy about that thought.

    If anyone has ideas on keeping the humidity low, please advise. I tried to search, but the old forums are not accessible.

    Also, had anyone had experience with using electrical tape round caps when cellaring? I'm thinking of doing it for some seriously long-term bottles to help prevent rust and oxidation. I suppose waxing is an option, although taping is easier and less messy.
  17. rmalinowski4

    rmalinowski4 Oct 22, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Does it have a glass door? If so, get some insulation from HD or Lowes and cover the glass(on the inside). It will also keep the light out and help it run colder.
    Help the air circulate better. Find a way to install a small fan to help move the air. Condensation can be caused by different temps inside the fridge. I noticed as much as a 10 degree difference between the back and front of my fridge before I did the two steps above.
  18. yeahnatenelson

    yeahnatenelson Feb 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    R. Malinowski, The Fridge Whisperer...

    Really impressive work! You've got me debating buying one now.
  19. claaark13

    claaark13 Nov 29, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    No, it has a black door. It is this:

    I opened the door today to pull a Fantome, and within moments of sunlight exposure it had a lot of condensation.

    I'm hoping that the move to a consistent part of the house will control my issue. However, I want to ensure that I don't have this happen again. I'm currently afraid to fill it with certain C&C bottles due to this issue, or certain rare or old bottles with caps.
  20. claaark13

    claaark13 Nov 29, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    I think maybe my problem is that I don't have any candy bars in the bottom compartment. I will get some Butterfinger bars tomorrow.
    TastefulNudity likes this.
  21. t8000shx

    t8000shx Mar 2, 2004 New York
    Subscriber Beer Trader


    By any chance were some of the beers at refrigerated temp before you moved them to cellaring temp? That would have caused condensation.
  22. t8000shx

    t8000shx Mar 2, 2004 New York
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    For the record, there is no evidence that laying beers down is detrimental to their long term aging ability. If you conside that champagne, including sur lees, has been aged horizontal for decades, it should set your mind at ease. The main benefits of a good cellar are appropriate temperature and darkness. Unless you are concerned about the integrity of the seal (in which case the beer is going to age poorly regardless, but at least it wont drip standing up), it doesnt matter if it is vertical or horizontal.

    And just to offer up my sole non-conclusive piece of evidence, last year i opened two 2008 GI BCS side to side. Both had been cellared since purchase, one standing one laying. Both me and my drinking buddy could not discern any differences.

    If anyone has supporting or contradicting evidence, im very interested in hearing it.
  23. claaark13

    claaark13 Nov 29, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    The beers went from a temp ranging 55-60 to the wine cooler.

    Most of the 20ish yr/old De Dolle I've had was aged horizontally. Same with bottles of Fantome and gueuze from the '90s. The De Dolle have been mostly capped bottles. I believe Kulminator ages non-corked bottles vertically, and I believe the same is true for De Heeren. I think the greatest concern over time may have been a poor seal.
  24. s1ckboy

    s1ckboy Apr 10, 2011 Massachusetts

    Here's my wine fridge I got at Lowes. I put some black foam core over the glass door to keep out light. I have 58 bottles in there now, about half are 22s & 750s. I can fit a couple 22's in the bottom shelf but it's pretty tight. It's mostly for stuff I want to age, or more rare stuff. Works out pretty well.


  25. jedwards

    jedwards Feb 3, 2009 California

    To be clear, the CIVC specifically recommends storing champagne upright, and asserts that storing it on side ages the champagne more quickly. Their hypothesis for this is that keeping the compressed champagne cork moist reduces the elasticity of the material and allows more oxygen ingress. I don't really have a strong opinion on the matter myself.
  26. NarcoSolo

    NarcoSolo Jan 1, 2012 Pennsylvania

    What kind of insulation did you use and how did you attach it to the glass? Also, how do you install a fan inside a fridge? Battery?
  27. rmalinowski4

    rmalinowski4 Oct 22, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    The insulation is the solid pink foam board type without the silver reflecting surface. I had some leftover from another project, so I used it. I just cut it a little big so the fit was real tight and the door seal holds it in. For the fan, I drilled a small hole near the drain hole on the hump where the compressor goes. The heat dispesing coils are run on the sides and top, so i didnt want to drill there. I cut the plug off the power cord, fead the cord behind the cooling plate to the bottom, feed it through the hole and put a repair plug on the end. There were some slots on the light fixture on the top and I attached the fan to those with cable ties. If you want to get fancy, you could remove the light fixture and wire a fan in there directly. There is an on/off switch for the light that is not controlled by the door being open, so you could keep the fan on all the time.
  28. m4ttj0nes

    m4ttj0nes Feb 21, 2012 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    pretty much drooling over here.....
  29. t8000shx

    t8000shx Mar 2, 2004 New York
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Can you find a source for this? I spent a good amount of time looking for this yesterday (checked the CIVC website, wikipedia, general purpose wine sites, google, etc) and couldn't find it. Not at all saying it's not true, I just couldn't seem to dig it up and would love to read more about this.
  30. jedwards

    jedwards Feb 3, 2009 California

    I read a translation of the CIVC report ages ago, but am having zero luck locating a copy online (I might have read it in a magazine or book). Here's a report on the report, which is slightly better than nothing: "The lay down on storage" (Sept 1996)

    And here's a translation of another article that (despite what the person posting the translation says) indicates that there is a difference, but that it's very small: "Should [Champagne] bottles be stored lying down or upright" (February 1996)
    Of course, there are other variables at play here when translating this knowledge to the beer world -- maturing champagne doesn't contain live yeast, for example, and the bottle orientation might have some small effect on the maturation of the yeast.

    They also note that the presence of cork taint (TCA) will occur with a bad cork irrespective of bottle orientation, which corresponds with data from the wine world (I'm blessed with something of a TCA insensitivity, so I tend not to notice either way).
  31. barleyswine

    barleyswine Feb 27, 2012 Kansas

    I have a wine cooler I have used for years. It has a glass door, that I coverd with (free) brewery stickers. I love the shit out of it. I recommend one to anybody serious about beer. I want to add, aging beers on their sides is bad in theory because the beers would have more surface area. Exposing more beer to air and its proven that makes beer sad.
  32. Mahlik

    Mahlik Aug 21, 2010 Oregon

    This looks exactly like what I'm looking for. How much did it cost? How deep is it (in terms of 22s or 750s)?
  33. chanokokoro

    chanokokoro Jan 31, 2012 Illinois

    They have a version of this same model with flat glass shelves instead of wine racks they call a "beverage center" also available at Lowe's for $399. I use this one, saves you from cutting new shelves and works perfectly. Check this link:
  34. Mahlik

    Mahlik Aug 21, 2010 Oregon

    Thanks for the heads up. That might just work for me. How many bottles (mainly 22s or 750s) can you fit in yours?
  35. s1ckboy

    s1ckboy Apr 10, 2011 Massachusetts

    I think it was around 300. It's 5 750's deep on the top shelf, and 5 12oz bottles deep on the bottom shelf. Also you may want to note the temperature range between this model (41° - 64°) and the "beverage center" (33° - 50°) depending on your needs.
  36. chanokokoro

    chanokokoro Jan 31, 2012 Illinois

    Everything about the model that s1ckboy and I have is exactly the same except mine came with glass adjustable shelves instead of the wire wine racks, so the capacity is the same. The cooler comes with three shelves. If you're storing mostly 22 oz. and 750 ml bottles you'll only be using one of the glass shelves and the bottom of the cooler due to height of the bottles. On the top shelf you can fit about five 22 oz. bottles deep or about four to five 750 ml and about 6 across. On the bottom you can fit about four 22 oz. or 750 ml bottles deep and about 6 across. Generally, I have 55-60 bottles with a mixture of 12 oz., 22 oz. and 750 ml bottles in my cooler.
  37. chanokokoro

    chanokokoro Jan 31, 2012 Illinois

    Thanks s1ckboy. Didn't realize there was a variation in temperature ranges. I keep mine set at 50 and the cooler stays between 50-52 degrees.
  38. stupac2

    stupac2 Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Also worth asking is what kind of cooling system it uses. My wine fridge is smaller, but it uses some kind of electrical cooling system that's silent and more energy-efficient that regular compression coolers. I didn't see it on that page, and I think that's a feature worth seeking out.

    Also, I've been building a heating panel at work (the system I work on has significant amounts of plastic that are exposed to very dry gas, heating them up encourages the water dissolved in the plastic to rapidly come out, instead of coming out slowly over the course of months). Building your own system actually isn't that hard, running one of these bad boys to a switch that controls a fridge motor wouldn't be difficult at all (there's a perfect switch later down the page). If you're electrically or mechanically inclined at all, I'd consider the DIY model, you could get a full fridge from craigslist and like $60 of parts and have room for a fuckton of bottles. If I had room for one, I'd really consider it.
  39. Mahlik

    Mahlik Aug 21, 2010 Oregon

    I'll look into the cooling system. I've looked into something like you describe above. But I don't want something that is going to take up a lot of room. At least not now. Currently, I only keep around 30-60 bottles at a time so any extra space would be a waste for me.
  40. Mahlik

    Mahlik Aug 21, 2010 Oregon

    In terms of size, this is ideal for me. I too have a mix of 12s, 22s and 750s. I usually keep anywhere between 30-60 bottles. However, I think I would prefer the 41° - 64° temperature range. Having to install my own shelf isn't that big of a deal to me. Plus it looks like it would save me $100. But thanks for the assistance on this.
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