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A problem I hadn't really anticipated was how to store/transport bottled homebrew. I've been reusing old cardboard store-bought boxes, but they seem to be breaking down pretty quickly, especially when exposed to moisture. I've been reinforcing with duct tape, but I've already had one catastrophic containment failure while carrying a case to my car(no beer was harmed, but it was a close call).

My homebrew mindset suggests I build something myself; I dunno, I assume this is a problem that most homebrewers have dealt with- how do you go about it?

Disclaimer: Not sure if this is on-topic enough- feel free to vote to close if you think that's the case.

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@PJ: I'm less concerned with the storing conditions (heat/light/location) as I am with specific physical packaging solutions- reusing cardboard boxes, wine-style wall racks, custom wooden cases, etc. –  Fishtoaster Nov 25 '10 at 19:16
    
ever try to find the old fashioned beer cases with the flip to lids - they carried 24 12oz bottles - they were great - where can I find those? –  user1055 Feb 22 '11 at 16:13

8 Answers 8

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Go to www.cwcrate.com - there you can get some pretty cool plastic beer cases. They hold up really well too, I've been using mine for quite some time now and there no way they are going to fall apart. What's cool about them is that you can just take your case out in the yard, open it up and pour a bag of ice in and you're all set.

Update: cwcrate.com is out of business as of september 2013

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That's pretty awesome. A bit expensive, but probably a good investment if you can reuse them for years to come. –  Fishtoaster Feb 18 '11 at 20:32
    
Just got my cases from CWCRATE and love them. I stacked 4 full cases and they definitely will hold up for a long time. –  Bullet86 Sep 7 '11 at 15:39

Before I switched to all-grain, I made dozens of Brew House kits. They are bagged wort kits that come in a super-sturdy carboard box. They hold a dozen or 16 of the bottles I use, depending on the bottle size, and they easily stack 5 or 6 high.

This probably doesn't help you much, since you probably don't have a couple dozen of these boxes lying around. But I guess I'd suggest keeping an eye open for good cardboard boxes. Boxes from a liquor store are probably a good thing to try.

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Milk crates actually do a great job of holding bottles. But you have to protect them from light. I know some people actually build 24 bottle case/carriers out of wood to cart bottles around.

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I use milk crates with holes in the bottom. I bottle and store in those crates. Since I always spill a little while bottling, I just take it outside and hose it out after bottling. –  Pulsehead Nov 26 '10 at 13:39

The case boxes that breweries used to use for their returnable bottles work well and can last a long time. They are hard to come by these days but if you keep your eye out at garage sales and even on craigs list you may be able to acquire a couple.

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For general storage I use pick-a-pop 24 crates (I got these from a friend's shed) they work wonderfully well.

However, normally I'm not taking 24 beers out anywhere, so I am building a couple of wooden carrying cases. One will carry 8 normal (341ml) beer bottles and the other will carry 6 larger (650ml). I will be making these next Saturday and will post pictures and hopefully plans when complete.

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Nothing made of cardboard is going to last long or retain strength exposed to moisture - humidity alone will soften even the heaviest double ply corrugated cardboard over time.

Your best bets for transporting bottles would be plastic milk crates or wooden bottle crates. The bottles will rattle around in the milk crate and won't be a perfect fit. The partitions in the old wooden bottle crates keep everything neat and tidy with a lot less "klink".

You can still find Coca Cola bottle crates at antique shops, but they will likely be priced for nostalgia than for utility. If you're handy with a table saw, you can build a dozen wooden bottle crates from 1 inch and quarter inch slats in a weekend.

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I've done the math and have determined that I can make ten wooden cases that each hold 24 twelve ounce bottles from a single 4x8 sheet of 3/8" plywood and a single 4x8 sheet of 1/8" masonite hardboard. Tools required:

  • Circular saw (or table saw with a fence extension & large out-feed table)
  • Router
  • Dovetail jig (if you want to dovetail the corner joints)
  • Glue & clamps

I'll post pics & plans after I whip up some of these sometime in the not-too-distant future.

...actually, I just found this online, and it's almost exactly what I had in mind.

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The plans I linked to used 3/8" plywood for the bottoms. I plan to use plywood for the sides and 1/8" hardboard for the bottoms. It will be strong enough. –  JackSmith Feb 21 '11 at 15:03

I was very excited to see what the community had to offer for this problem as I am in need of a cardboard box replacement as well. Unfortunately, it appears that www.cwcrate.com is out of business. Therefore, I continued to search for a solution. I found the following sets of plans to make wooden crates:

  • set 1 -- enclosed box: these look really nice, but were beyond my skill level and equipment availability, plus I really wanted a crate that would hold 24 bottles

  • set 2 -- plywood based crate for 24 bottles: this is exactly what I was looking for in terms of style, wood cost, size, etc... However, I do not have a table saw and ripping all that plywood would have been very difficult for me

  • set 3 -- same basic plans as set 2, but made from 1x2 and 1x3 furring strips (i.e. no ripping on a table saw, just cross cuts with a circular or miter saw)

I ended up going with set 3 as they were the right fit me for. My wife expressed interest in helping so I taught her how to use the power tools and she ended up cutting most of the wood and I assembled them. We bought enough wood and supplies to make 6 for around $55. Additionally, we took an idea from this picture and painted the bottom front rail of each crate with chalkboard paint to provide a place to write some information about what is in the crate.

Here is a picture of finished product. enter image description here

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