At Home with Foam: The Beer Lover’s Dream House
Basement—The Beer Cellar
Don’t keep your Belgians and bottle-conditioned real ales in your coat closet! With the Wine Mate 1500 from Vinotemp ($1,195 at www.vinotemp.com), you can store 100 big bottle beers in peace and security.
It’s time to get your lager on: keep the chill on your homebrewed pilsner with a cooled stainless steel fermenter from those crazy sons of fun at MoreBeer.com ($2,150 for the 24 gallon tank). You can get hoses at Micro Matic. Worried about the cost of all this high-end homebrew equipment? Hey, you could buy a boat…but a boat don’t make beer, baby!
Build-your-own all-house tap system (Taps All Places System—TAPS): Go shopping at Micro Matic’s website (www.micromatic.com) for everything you need—and we do mean everything—to build a freezer-based cold room and run draft lines to every room in your house. Don’t forget the cleaning supplies! (If you don’t feel like doing-it-yourself—we sure don’t—your local microbrewer might be happy to pick up some extra bucks putting it in for you: support your local brewer!) The house beer in the TAPS lines? Your beer, of course!
When you’re cleaning your brewery, you need hot water right away, and plenty of it. The Noritz N-069M provides 6.9 gallons of hot water per minute, immediately. At $1,300 list price, it’s not cheap…but it’s as much as 50% less money to operate than a standard water heater. (www.noritz.com)
Storage: store your homebrewing supplies in the basement, that’s what it’s for. Get the Edsal Muscle Rack Heavy Duty shelving at Lowe’s. It ain’t pretty, but it’s reasonable ($70 for the 5-shelf unit), it’s strong as a bull moose, and it’s Lowe’s—you can get it anywhere.
If you’re going to be drinking all the beer this house has, you’re going to have to work it off. One of the best single workout machine going is the Concept 2 rowing machine, a full aerobic burn with real work on the gut and legs. The Model D ($850 + shipping, www.concept2.com) folds up for storage and is made in the U.S.
The beer for the basement? Gotta be draft, and if you’re working out, it’s gotta be light and quenching, but with enough flavor for the geek in you: Schlenkerla Lager. Light and golden, with just enough smoke to be delicious.
Our Beer-mobile is a fantasy, we’ll admit, a joint project we’d have to commission from custom refrigerator genius Craig “Craigerator” Jones (www.craigerator.com) and hot rod custom king Boyd Coddington of the Discovery Channel’s American Hot Rod (www.boydsshop.com). We envision a 1959 Chevy Impala convertible with fins out to there on a golden amber body with a snow-white rag-top. The trunk is a coldbox with flip-up taps; chill is provided by a propane-powered refrigeration unit (it works for the Amish!) built into the back seat. Estimated cost: somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000, plus $110 for a half of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Not as much fun, but more practical: Don’t carry the kegs and sacks of malt to the basement, you’ll ruin your back. Get a ThyssenKrupp Minivator from your local old-folks store. With a capacity of 450 lbs., you can take kegs downstairs two at a time. NEED PRICE.
The beers in the trunk? That’s right, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Samuel Adams Boston Lager. If you’ve got an American classic car, you better have American classic beers.
Deck/shed combo—The Tiki Bar is Open
We put a small shed on the deck: it’s storage for our outdoor drinking equipment.
Tiki it up: decorate that shed and deck for fun outdoor drinking with Polynesian pop culture from BarTiki.com. Tiki bars, tiki music, tiki mugs, tiki torches…and if that’s not rum punch in your mugs, who’s to know?
If you’re drinking outside, you need coolers. Get the Coleman XTreme 70 qt. cooler: it will keep an iced sixtel keg cold for five days in 90 degree heat, and a sixtel fits in this cooler like it was made for it.
Bottles go in coolers, too: get a wall-mount opener at Cymba.com; heck, you can get any kind of opener you want at Cymba, even solid bronze personalized openers ($55 setup fee plus $20 each piece). If you want to get real special, the guys at Franklin Ironworks (www.franklinironworks.com) can custom smithy a nifty hand-hammered model for you; e-mail for estimates.
Get more mileage out of that keg with Ubertap: a regular Cerberus of taps, Ubertap has three heads for multiple pouring, and a foot-pump for more efficient pumping. (www.ubertap.com, $100 for a standard Sankey head) For your really big parties.
Deck beer is lawnmower beer…but we pay our kids to mow the lawn, so our lawnmower beer is Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Hey, Billy, you missed a spot!
Living Room—Never Leave the Action
Put the TAPS outlet right by the La-Z-Boy Matinee (www.La-Z-Boy.com, varying prices, expect to pay around $750 per seat, more for motorized), a multi-seat reclin-o-matic row of seats built for home theater, with built-in cup holders and trays. That’s real home theater.
Do your home theater at Circuit City: a mighty plasma screen, surround-sound, thumping bass, plus installation, all in one stop (about $4,000 when it’s all said and done; you can spend more or less).
Beer in the living room changes by season. Summer: Stegmaier Summer Stock Lager. Fall: Smuttynose Old Brown Dog. Winter: Spaten Optimator. Spring: Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock.
Kitchen—Recipes for Beer
There’s definitely a TAPS outlet in the kitchen, right by the sink. Mmmm, hot and cold running water…and beer.
Kitchens are for cooking: this is where we make the beer. What we use is the B3-2100 “brewing sculpture” from MoreBeer.com: $2550 worth of stainless steel, pumps, brilliant engineering, and a 20-gallon batch size. Put a reverse osmosis water filter ($195) on the front end and a Pro Series counterflow chiller ($185) on the output down to your cylindro-conical in the basement, and you’re more than good to go.
If you’re making beer, you need to mill your grain. We put a Schmidling MaltMill Model AA on a swing-down support—kind of like a Murphy bed mill—that props right over the B3-2100’s mash tun. Sweet. ($143 at www.schmidling.com)
Brewing early in the morning? Get going with a cup of Bell’s Java Stout and you’ll be percolating indeed.
Dining Room—Choices, choices
TAPS outlet, of course.
You should be able to pull out a selection of beers with dinner without going all the way to the kitchen. Vinotemp makes a 24 bottle glass-front refrigerator for your big-bottle delights ($229); or you can hold over two cases of 12 oz. bottles in the Avanti Tavern Master compact glass door refrigerator (www.compactappliance.com; $269).
Two great places for glassware. Crate & Barrel will get you all the standard stuff you need: pilsners, stemware, shaker pints, and so on (www.CrateandBarrel.com). For branded glassware, steins, and novelty items like beer boots, head to Straubs’ (www.straubs.net). One-stop beer container shopping.
The beer? Cover your bets with a selection of the best all-around food beers: dubbel, festbier, pilsner, and IPA: New Belgium Abbey, Old Dominion Octoberfest, Schell Pilsner, and Bear Republic Racer 5.
Den—The Beer Man Room
TAPS outlet, right on your bar. That’s right, you’ve got a bar!
You’ve got to have your music, whether it’s oompah lager-lifting tunes or Tom T. Hall’s classic “I Like Beer.” Get to your local Tweeter store (or www.tweeter.com), where you can grab a fine micro-component shelf system for under $500 or a full-house Bose Lifestyle wireless system for a lot more. The important thing is that the controls to the system are here in your den.
This is your home bar room. You can go pro in a beautiful English pub way at EnglishBars.com (about $3,000 plus shipping), or do it yourself with some very helpful planning assistance from BarPlan.com (7 full bar plans for under $30). Then get barstools at www.AllBarstools.com, an absolutely overwhelming selection of bar furniture.
You’ll need bar supplies. They’ve got some very good stuff at reasonable prices at your local Bed, Bath & Beyond, plus glassware galore; or you could go to www.HomeBarSupplys.com (yes, they know it’s spelled wrong) and get pro-level stuff.
KegWorks.com also has a wide selection of glassware, including full and half imperial pint nonic glasses. Stock up, then put those stemmed glasses in a sharp overhead rack like the pros do (KegWorks.com, $50 and up).
You’ve got the bar; this is the room for your Craigerator. Craig “Craigerator” Jones (www.craigerator.com) customizes classic refrigerators, and they must be seen to be believed. Figure on dropping at least 3 Gs on this, but you will be the envy of every beer guy you know.
Let’s get hairy: the beer for the Beer Man Room is Russian River Pliny the Elder. Rock me, Hops.
Master Bedroom—A Calm Refuge
There are precious things in the bedroom. Like your barleywine collection; store it in a handsome maple rack from The Wine Rack Shop (21 bottle rack, $63, www.winerackshop.com).
And under the bed? The most precious beers of all—the Stone Vertical Epic 03-03-03, the 1960 Ballantine Burton Ale, the 1996 King & Barnes Christmas, the 1985 Bigfoot—are stowed in a foam-lined, securely locked black-finish Quantaray aluminum camera case (www.ritzcamera.com; $60). The one thing to grab in case of a fire.
Want a uniquely soothing decor scheme? Go to your local paint store with a draught can of Guinness and a pint glass. Get the tinting expert’s attention, pop the can, pour, and tell him you want three gallons of black and two gallons of foam. Paint your room black with a foam ceiling and foot-high border. You’ll sleep like an Irish baby. (Approximately $125 for paint and brushes.)
The bedroom beer (aside from the all-house tap, which you’ve definitely got in the bedroom) is something strong and sweet and soothing: Weyerbacher Insanity, a bourbon-barrel aged barleywine. Get a little crazy tonight.
Bathroom—What Happens Here, Stays Here
Yes, you’ve got a TAPS outlet here, and a Spulboy Flin Flon, the very best glass cleaning system available, NSF-approved, and very water-efficient. After all, it’s not as if you’re going to be getting up to get a fresh glass. (www.mrblender.com, $586). Heck, might not be a bad idea to get one of these for the kitchen, too.
Time to stop joking about “The Reading Room” and do something about it. Get these effective and protective glass-doored bookshelves (to keep the books dry) by Tennsco from Dallas Midwest (www.dallasmidwest.com), then drop about $500 at www.BeerBooks.com and fill ‘em up.
Hey, you’re already sitting down; why not have something really big? Make it Goose Island Bourbon County Stout.
Guest Room—One-night Stand
No all-house tap. One warm six-pack of light beer on the night stand. What, you want people to stay forever?
The Beer Room—’Nuff Said!
The Den was just a start. This is the real display. Open up that TAPS outlet and enjoy your friends’ glow of envy.
If you don’t have a collection of the cool old brewery advertising called ‘breweriana,’ why not start one to decorate this fabulous room at www.Breweriana.com. It’s not the most intuitive system, but man, do they ever have the stuff.
Display and preserve your Jealousy Collection—all the beers everyone else wishes they had—in the impeccable Sub-Zero 601RG glass-front stainless body refrigerator. You’ll want to turn off the interior lighting, of course. Figure on about $5,000 for this, but honestly: you’re talking about the Stone Vertical Epic series, your full run of Eldridge Pope Thomas Hardy’s, 1994 Alaskan Smoked Porter, six years of Niagara Falls Eisbock, five years of Fuller’s Vintage Ale, the King & Barnes Millennium Ale in the wooden presentation box, New Haven Belle Dock, first runs of Geary’s Hampshire Ale…do you really want to trust that to something you picked up at a yard sale?
You need entertainment, and it might as well be beer: www.HistoricVideoArchives.com has two hour-long DVDs of classic beer ads from the 1950s through the 1970s ($25 each). Add in the video from your latest beer hunt, and you’ve got some spellbinding stuff.
Why not drop another $500 on beer books for this room? This would be a good place for BeerBooks.com’s reprint series of classic older titles, like Pasteur’s “Studies on Fermentation” and Arnold’s “Origin and History of Beer and Brewing.” Very classy.
The beer? Any damn beer you want, baby, it’s your room!
Closets—Useful Beer Space
Fill that closet with beer shirts and hats! Get your faves at your local micro, check out the selection at www.BeerBooks.com, or try on some wild drinking monk-theme shirts at www.StObnoxious.com.
There are farms by us that often have used 55-gallon plastic barrels for sale for ten bucks. That looks like a home malt silo, just waiting to happen. Stick one in a closet right above the kitchen, pipe some PVC down to that drop-down Malt Mill, stick in a few flow-control valves, and you’re in business. Getting the malt bags upstairs is your problem.
Closets are a perfect place to keep your stash of Bud Light.