How to Make a Beer Cellar

In an earlier post, I wrote about beer cellaring and all the wonders that hobby has to offer. If you think that KBS is delicious today you will not believe how much it improves after 3 years. For even more advice read the Art of Cellaring Beer by Rod Jones.

The Inspector

Now that the world is downloading and playing with the Sommbeer App, I thought it would be fun to write about how I made my beer cellar. The timing seems right as our app was initially inspired by the Sommbeer community’s passion for cellaring.

The project was a labor of love and it was frankly one of the first things I installed in my basement. It goes without saying that a beer cellar can be made just about anywhere in your house or apartment.  When deciding on a location however, it’s important to protect your beer from negative factors

1. Light – UV radiation can make a beer “skunky”
2. Heat – limit thermal cycling and keep the beer away from heat sources
3. Vibration – let that yeast settle in peace
4. Inlaws, kids, neighbors – it’s always best to secure your beer

I chose my basement and I put my cellar in a region that had walls with the most dirt behind them. A basement wall that is underground is as close to cave conditions that a homeowner can hope to achieve. I chose to have a “passive” cooling design ie. no powered heating or cooling. If I had placed the cellar upstairs then a powered cooling unit might have been necessary. My goal was to limit heat variation from season to season and to have a target temperature range of (55-65). I have found that it generally stays within this range in large part due to the insulation and basement location.

So here it is, in all it’s glory. I had fun making it. Today I’m spending my kids inheritance money to keep it fully stocked.

1. Frame walls
Treated wood used against walls and floor.

2. Cement walls
Cement board (Hardibacker or Durock) is moisture resistant and provides some thermal mass, helping to reduce thermal fluctuations. For the record, I have never once used the electrical outlet pictured here in wall of my cellar.

3. Vapor Barrier
The cellar will be colder than the room temperature which draws in moisture and condenses. To prevent damage to the cellar structure a vapor barrier was installed in the ceiling and walls. I under-estimated the difficulty of installing a circus tent sized plastic tarp on the inside of this small room.  Open crevices were caulked.

4. Insulation
Insulate everything, every wall every crevice. Even the door is insulated as it was made to be an exterior door (found it on clearance).

5. Tile, wood and finish carpentry
I installed tile (travertine) on the walls for looks and thermal mass. The ceiling has pine siding and crown molding. Again, working in a small room was a real challenge. One night I fell off my ladder. Hurt myself something bad, but I picked myself up as fast as I could before anybody could see me. How would can you explain falling off a ladder in a room the size of a large closet?

6. Wine Rack
I was fortunate to buy all of this beautiful oak from a co-worker. I ripped the boards and used them to make a wine rack and shelves. Most of the rack was assembled outside of the room. The “ship in a bottle” analogy works perfect here.


7. Fill ‘er up!
I marvel at the beer cellar now that it’s built, because I had originally designed it for wine. My tastes have evolved over a very short period of time so now it serves to store beer, wine and plenty of bourbon. Some guys I know use a portion of their cellar to store cigars.

Shelves for liquor were added later.

Do you have a cellar? We would love to hear about it. Send us a note! 



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2 thoughts on “How to Make a Beer Cellar”

  1. How did the spacing for the bottles work for sat bombers compared to 12 oz bottles, compared to wine bottles?

    I’m finishing my basement here in Livonia, and I’ve got a wide beer collection. However we love our traverse and California wines too.

    I’m trying to find the nice happy medium… so your design of rack has me curious how veristale it is….


    1. Great question.
      I designed the wine rack for the standard and magnum sized wine bottles. The display section, I now use for bombers which size wise is the same as a standard wine bottle. The 12oz bottles really need to be stored upright so I place them on shelves. If you make the rack yourself I would suggest mocking up a section and testing it. There was precious little info on the web that I could trust, for dimensions.


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