Barley Mowat 

Cellar Chronicles Part I: Find Your Hole

with 2 comments

One day, in early October, I rolled out of bed, had a shower, ate some breakfast, and then bought a house. Shortly thereafter, I began scouring over floorpans of my new house, looking for a room in an out of way corner that I could turn into a walk-in cellar without Sharon noticing. Sharon, wise to this plan, suggested that I could take our new two car garage and turn it into a 1 car, 2000 bottle garage. Challenge Accepted!

Building a walk-in cellar, unlike buying a house, is not something you simply wake up and decide to do on a whim. It takes many hours of research and detailed planning. You have to balance thermal and humidity control with killer interior design that screams out “Look at me! I’m a rich twat!” Getting that balance just right is pretty hard.

The guy who built this, for instance, must be a huge asshole. Well played, good sir.

Seriously, if you Google “wine cellar” you’ll quickly find a steady stream of glassed in, brightly lit, wealth-brags cleverly disguised as rooms in which to age grape juice. The reality of aging wine and beer, though, is that all the things that makes a cellar photograph well are the exact same things that are bad for your boozey fluids.

Wine and beer age best in dark places, far from the vibrations caused by people walking, held at a very consistent temperature and humidity. If you’ve ever seen someone with a big open wine rack built on top of their kitchen cabinets, for instance, then you’ve been in the kitchen of an idiot who drinks a lot of spoiled wine. Heat from cooking rises to also cook the beer/wine, light from the ceiling fixtures accelerates undesirable chemical breakdowns, and the constant vibration from opening/closing kitchen cabinets never lets sediment settle out.

“Above your cabinets” is probably the single worst place you could possibly store significant quantities of booze, yet if you search for “kitchen wine storage” instead of a single result saying “don’t, you fucking moron” you get page after page of “stunning renovations.”

Sure, it looks badass, but it’s the booze storage equivalent of leaving your Lamborghini unattended on the streets of Surrey for 15 minutes.

Spending a lot of money to build a massive wall rack in your kitchen or dining room, and then walling it in behind glass, isn’t much better. Sure, you now have an enclosed space that you can apply cooling to, but your wine and beer are still very far from being comfortable. Of course, building a cellar in your basement doesn’t show off your very expensive booze in the same way, but with a kitchen cellar all you’re really showing off is your desire to slowly ruin perfectly good wine in front of your friends. In short, you’re an asshole.

So, where should the non-asshole store his beer and wine? Every house will have its own secret booze hutch, just waiting for your discovery. Some might have a below-grade, unused basement bedroom. Other’s might have an actual honest-to-god root cellar. Still others might have a dry well that, until recently, was only used for storing your lotion.

Poke around. Leave a digital thermometer in your potential spots for a few days and look for places in out-of-the-way corners with as little temperature variation as possible. Keep in mind that you will not be building a glorious temple to liquid happiness. Instead, you’re looking to create a dark, semi-humid, hole that you will cram full of booze to age comfortably and undisturbed. Once you’ve picked a spot, we can move on to Part 2: Planning Your Build.

The back left corner of this unfinished carhole is where my actual cellar will be built.

Written by chuck

November 6th, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Beer and You

2 Responses to 'Cellar Chronicles Part I: Find Your Hole'

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  1. Well this is quite exciting.
    Please keep us informed with pictures as to the progress of your dark, semi-humid hole for booze aging purposes.


    6 Nov 15 at 23:19

  2. Caught the second one from the top, which somohew reminded me of the anteroom in Blade. Kidding. Planned to turn my bar into something like the topmost pic. The glass partition looks fabulous, and my mind is already racing what wines and liquor would have their coveted places in the shelf. The designs are outstanding. Thank you.


    4 Mar 16 at 17:09

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