There are a few factors to consider when determining where to store your beer between bottling or kegging and drinking it. Ideally you’d have an extra refrigerator dedicated to beer, but there are other options if you don’t. If you’re bottling your beer keep in mind that for ales, the bottles will need to sit at room temperature for about two weeks to become properly carbonated, for most styles. If it stays at room temperature afterward, it is possible that it may become overcarbonated. We’ll tell you how this can be avoided and how to properly store your bottled beer.
If you’re bottling...Click here for more information on bottling beer.
As mentioned earlier, the ideal setup includes a refrigerator dedicated to beer. Once you’ve bottled your beer, let it sit at room temperature for a couple of weeks or until it has attained the desired level of carbonation. Then store them in the fridge until you drink them.
If you don’t have a dedicated refrigerator, the next best thing is a cement or tile basement floor (carpet will insulate the floor and may result in too high a temperature), which is usually a bit colder than the main floor of a house. Yeast will go dormant below 55ºF, so a basement floor is usually ideal for storing beer after they’re carbonated. If you’re not sure what the temperature of your basement floor is, just take a full glass of water, put on your basement floor, and put your dial thermometer in it. Let it sit for 24 hours then check the temperature.
If you don’t have either of these options available to you, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure that your beer does not become overcarbonated. First of all, make sure that your beer has fermented all the way out. Take a hydrometer reading before transferring or bottling your homebrew. For most beers, once it’s down to 1.010, it’s done. Consult your recipe to see what your final reading should be. This is important because if you bottle your beer prematurely, there will still be fermentable sugar present. Then you add priming sugar; 5 oz. is the right amount to achieve the correct level of carbonation. This assumes that your beer has fermented out. If it hasn’t, and you then add priming sugar and bottle, you do run the risk of overcarbonating if the beer is stored at room temperature.
You might be surprised how easy and inexpensive it is to find a refrigerator. Check your local listings on craigslist. Monitor the “Free” section, and you’ll probably find one within a week.