June 8, 2011 | Beer, Commentary

Beer Cooler Set-up

A couple of weeks ago, before the real heat of a Virginia Summer had fully kicked in, I noticed that the temperature in the basement storeroom (where I house 150 or so bottles of beer) was higher than it should have been. Typically, in the hottest months the room averages 65° which isn’t ideal, but manageable. This day, it was already hovering just below 70°. Knowing how hot the days ahead could get, this was definitely cause for alarm in my book.

The decision was made swiftly to purchase a chest freezer. I spent a good couple of days researching and pricing (there are a ton of options and models available), but ultimately settled on a 14 cubic foot GE that Home Depot had on sale (with free shipping no less) for $375. But the freezer wouldn’t be fine as is. It would still get way too cold for my purposes. I don’t want any “beercicles” on my hands.

Johnson Controls photo

It was recommended by my father-in-law that I pick up a Johnson Controls regulator from a home brewing shop. He uses one with his own chest freezer to maintain serving temperatures for his homebrews.

The device essentially overrides the freezer’s own cooling mechanism by cutting power to the appliance when the desired temperature is attained. All you have to do is plug the freezer into the Johnson Controls and then plug the regulator into a suitable power supply. Pretty darn easy. I picked mine up at NorthernBrewer.com for about $65 (shipping included).

Everything finally came together late last night after a couple of hours for the freezer to reach a desired temperature of 53°. I spent about an hour transferring and organizing the bottles of beer. You’d be surprised how quickly the freezer filled up. I pretty much only have room for 2 more 750ml bottles and maybe a handful of 12oz bottles. The photo below was taken right before moving a series of vintages of Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Ale from its cardboard box.

Chest freezer photo

With so little space left, it appears as though I’ll have to maintain a system of rotation as I add more to the freezer — one in, one out sort of thing. It’s not that bad of a problem to have, I suppose, but it just means that I may be drinking a bottle or two before I would ideally like to. At any rate, that’s the new set-up. I think it is for the better. The temperature in the storeroom hit 73° yesterday afternoon when the freezer arrived.

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Reader Comments

David says:

Hi! I can’t tell but are there bottles under the blue shelves? As in do the bottles fit on each layer of the cooler across the whole cooler?? Or is the picture showing everything it can fit. Also, Aprox how many bottles does the GE fit?
Thanks!

BarleyBlog says:

HI David… there are bottles under both of the lower blue shelves as well as the upper left shelf. Right now I have about 180 bottles in the cooler right now. All vary in size from 12 oz to 750 ml bottles.

David says:

Thanks! Looks like a great option!

Steve says:

Not sure if you will get this to answer since it it from a couple of months ago. I had two questions for you. How did you install the probe for the thermostate? Where did you get the blue backets from? Thanks for the great idea.

BarleyBlog says:

Steve

The thermostat is simply taped to a nearby beam in the basement with the probe resting in the bottom of the freezer. The blue baskets came with the freezer, but I would assume you should be able to purchase them separately.