Can Your Beer Shelf Hold Up?

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Yeah, I know… Sound storage considerations for your bottles isn’t the most exciting topic. You probably would be much happier if I offered up the world’s finest red ale recipe and left it at that. Sorry… Truth be told, this is an extremely important matter, and it might behoove you to at least think about the subject.
Here are two quick anecdotes that should drive home my point. First, a friend lost his entire stereo system when an old bookshelf failed, sending all his audio gear hurtling to the floor. And secondly, we sold a used 40” flat-screen TV to a fellow because his previous unit wasn’t mounted properly to the wall, and it met the same fate as the stereo. Moral from the stories? Weight takes real support, and gallons of homebrew are heavy indeed.

Support Options


So what do you do? I’ll answer this by looking at several options, starting with my own beer shelf / closet in all its glory…
It may be overkill, but this shelf will hold almost anything.
Okay… I admit that it isn’t very impressive at first glance – it’s just a closet with a shelf and a curtain. But look closer. Those vertical black pieces of trim aren’t there to be pretty. They’re oak, and they’re there to support the shelf. They run from the underside of the 2x4 shelf frame directly to the baseboard, which in turn rests solidly on the floor. Put simply, in order for the shelf to fail, the floor would have to collapse, and I don’t think that is going to happen. Here’s a better look at the underside of the shelf structure…

Work benches often will be able to hold more beer than you could fit on it.
Another option is a brew table. Here’s a shot of one of the leg assemblies of my “workbench/ brew bench”…
The top for this piece is made up of two solid-core doors and measures 1.5” thick. I wouldn’t hesitate to put half a ton on the table.

Wall mounts


Danger Will Robinson! Just because you can buy wall brackets that will support one ton doesn’t mean that the wall will withstand that. If I were ever to use such things, I would be sure to provide front vertical support in the form of posts from the floor, or chains from the ceiling.
And for those basement brewers who might argue that stand-alone securing from a concrete wall is a horse of a different wheelbase, I offer another smidge of experience…
Concrete is not invincible either, and can be stripped out just like wood.
When fasteners work in concrete, they work wonderfully, but when they don’t, watch out! In the photo to the right, one of the holes stripped out. The end result was that I had to pack the hole in epoxy and reset the screw. Concrete is an unforgiving mistress.

Buy New for Your Needs


(I have four of these $20 marvels (below), and they’re best suited for holding a bunch of CDs, papers, and what nots. However, they are good for holding things like spare supplies, and other miscellaneous brewing equipment. Trying to somehow retrofit them to hold a lot of beer though would be, in my opinion, folly. Remember, you’re not just suspending approximately 10lbs/gallon, but also asking the structure to withstand the rigors of sliding that sloshing mass on and off the shelves. In the business of naval engineering, those types of forces are referred to as “global torque”, and it's nothing to sneeze at.
These shelving units on casters are affordable, but not really designed to hold as much weight as you need. They work great for miscellaneous brewing equipment and supplies though.
So, unless the existing storage is exceptionally beefy, except for one small obvious inadequacy, I’d say, start from scratch. The Web and Pinterest are crammed with ideas, and if nothing else, you can always buy a new shelving unit designed to hold 800-1200 pounds of weight (again overkill is always better than lost beer and a day renting the wet-vac to clean your IIPA off the basement floor).
Okay then… So where are we? With just a tad of reflection (and perhaps some less-than-noble experiences along the way), the issue of choosing what serves as your beer shelf hopefully comes into focus. I’ve shown some examples of different solutions for high capacity structures, and hopefully sparked one or two ideas along the way. But before I sign off, I want to reiterate one very simple concept… Beer (and wine for that matter) are heavy, and gravity can be ugly indeed. I always over-build my support, but at the same time am highly suspicious of the underpinning itself. This concern becomes more and more pronounced as we advance in our avocation, and the batches become larger and larger.
~ Alan is a semi-retired engineer and writer. Interests include beer, boat building, wood working, computers, and all things that can fit on a desk and have fine moving parts…
 

Comments

I agree it is important! I created a thread a few years back that illustrates the point: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=347589
 
Various adblocking extensions are going to block most of the images in this article. The URL is getting tagged by the "EasyList" due to the structure of the uploads. E.g., in the following URL:
https://cdn.homebrewtalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/ADS-shelf_IMG_3895.jpg
...the "/04/ADS" is going to get IDed every time as an ad. Change the image file names, and they might start showing up for others.
 
Good write-up with important information. My beer closet has legit 16" centre stud wall segments under it, which are then fastened to the walls. A friend commented "overkill" until he realized exactly how much weight it was supporting. It is still overkill, but well justified.
 
Concrete fasteners, installed correctly in concrete of adequate strength are unbelievable. They hold friggin bridges together!
That said, most homeowners have or introduce to many variables:
Failure to use match tolerance bits
Failure to follow instructions implicitly (if it says remove all dust from 15/32" deep hole...)
Concrete is of unknown and certainly untested strength
Ignoring edge distance requirements and reductions for closely spaced anchors
Using ultimate load instead of design load spec's
Not understanding shear, pull-out and "combined" load values
The construction industry has used concrete anchors to hang suspended walkways for generations. The Tapcon you showed above is the lowest strength and least reliable concrete anchor around. I want to write a whole diatribe here but in the end supporting a cantilever of thousands of pounds in a modern residential basement is not only possible, it is often a code REQIREMENT in seismic states.
 
i like the ideas on here, mine was simple. i found two wooden bookshelves at a garage sale. they were actually throwing them out so they were free. i put a tension bar on the top and some berlap around it since the only place i had to put the bookcases were near a window. so the beer is protected by the berlap and it actually doesn't look too bad. sorry no pics though.
 
I use the heavier-duty wire racks for mine. They work great and I can also hang hoses from the corners of them.
 
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