Barley Mowat 

Cellar Chronicles Part III: You Put Your Beer In There

with 5 comments

It’s been a while since I blogged about my cellar. Despite plenty of historical precedent this was not actually due to my extreme laziness. Rather, the schedule villain in this scenario was contractor availability and racking orders.

When planning out your cozy booze cave, it’s important to be very certain about how much room you have to build shelves and bottle racks. So much so that instead of taking a rough estimate of the finished interior space I had to work with, I elected to wait until I had the real thing to measure. When your wiggle room is less than half an inch, you bloody well want to be sure that your measurements are accurate.

If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

So you do math, lots of math. It turns out that this step is pretty common when planning out a cellar, so all the shelving units come with reasonably accurate dimensions, which allows you to model out how awkward it’ll be to take that third imperial stout of the evening off the shelf. For reference, I elected to go with VK Redwood racking from

In addition to lots of measurements, most popular wine racking systems are available in the Google SketchUp 3D model warehouse. That means I could model this stuff in 3D to see how it looks. Sure, it took me a few hours and was somewhat niggly, but it allowed me to procure that all-important spousal approval prior to commencing construction.

This is a perfectly reasonable thing to spend three hours modelling.

In additional to the dedicated wine (and corked beer) racks, I also went out and ordered a whole bunch of Ikea Ivar modular shelving. These will be home to my upright beer bottles, pickles, and earthquake supplies (because hey, if that 9.0 strikes, what better place to camp out than a small, cramped room in my garage with a floor absolutely covered in broken bottles and stale beer?). These things are cheap and come in a variety of sizes/configurations. Pro tip: check to make sure each piece has the prerequisite pins before buying or, since they give out the pins for free in the customer service area and the pins are a bitch to pry out of the packaging, just grab a handful or two on your way out while you’re eating those terrible-yet-strangely-compelling 75 cent hot dogs.

The beer half of the cellar had a bit more wiggle room, and cost a tiny fraction of the price, so I didn’t bother modelling it out as carefully as the wine half. This was a decision that in no way came back to haunt me later, when I discovered that the Ivar legs were two inches too tall for the ceiling moulding I had installed, or that one of the Ivar legs perfectly covered up an electrical outlet. No siree, that didn’t suck at all.

Here is my shame, for all the world to see.

So, uh, yeah, measure everything, you fools. Access to electrical is critically important, as your cellar is cool and dark to start with, and only gets more so as you add in bottle after bottle of delicious barley sauce.

Last pro tip: check the weight limits of your Ikea Ivar shelving and compare that to your beer which, shocker, is surprisingly heavy. No, I didn’t suffer a massive calamity, but let’s just say that those corner shelves will need a bit of reinforcing prior to being completely filled up with wobbly pops.

That’s about it, folks. The cellar is now up and running: my cheap space heater is heating, and the cooling unit eagerly awaits its chance to take part come spring. As a parting gift, here is a panoramic shot of my lovely, with most of the Ikea shelves installed.

Ooooooo yeaaahhhhhh….

Written by chuck

January 15th, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Beer and You

5 Responses to 'Cellar Chronicles Part III: You Put Your Beer In There'

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  1. Nice set up.earthquake might be a concern, just attach to wall and put a three inch high piece of work across front of beer shelf


    16 Jan 16 at 18:52

  2. […] Next time: racking! This is when my cellar starts looking more like a cellar, and less like the dark hole in which I torture railyard hobos to death. […]

  3. I’m looking at a similar build in the next 6 months (or less) in a room with an existing laminate floor that I’ll likely build a cellar room in, with the rest being a bar setup. Thinking of things like the floor, electrical, venting and options for the cooling unit.

    Any changes you would make since you constructed it? How is the cooling unit performing so far and is it noisy from outside the room?


    28 May 16 at 00:54

  4. Hi Terry,

    There are a couple of questions I have about your setup:
    – What’s under that laminate? If it’s concrete, you would be well advised to raise and insulate the floor.
    – Keep the cold room as small as possible (sounds like the bar is outside, but just checking).
    – Are any of these walls exterior? This one got me. Two of my walls are exterior, and the other two face into an uninsulated garage. The cooling unit was rated for the cubic footage I enclosed, but not the extra thermal load of cooling two outside walls and two walls facing a sometimes ~30C garage.

    Another thing I quasi regret is going very bottom of the line with the finishings. I definitely don’t think it should have been all teak and mahogany like some pompous cellars, but something a step up from mismatched plywood might have been nice 🙂

    In other news, I have since replaced my KoolR unit with the next model up because of the afore-mentioned thermal issues. The 2400W spare is in great condition. If you think it meets your needs, let me know and we’ll work something out.


    28 May 16 at 12:19

  5. I’m look at a 5×5 or 6×6 build, all internal walls inside a 9×12 foot room (leaving enough room for a fridge next to it). It’s in a lower floor, nothing underground but yes I’ll likely need to raise and insulate the floor as I’m pretty sure it’s concrete. Based on the specs, likely need to install another outlet on the inside wall but that’s easy enough to get done.

    Very interested in the spare, that should be plenty for what I’m looking at size wise. I’ll drop you an e-mail in a couple days as soon as I know what’s up on my end.



    29 May 16 at 22:04

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