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I've discovered that bottles fit in my storage fridge much more efficiency if I stack them horizontally, and I'm thinking of building some wooden racks to let me fit more bottles safely and securely.

I know it's considered best-practice to store bottles upright to allow yeast to settle and to reduce surface area inside at the bottle, but how much difference does it really make? This is for medium- to long-term storage: generally for less than a year, although a couple of bottles I've had for several years. Virtually all of my beers are capped, so cork lifetime isn't a concern of mine.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The yeast settling out of the beer over time is a big help in clarifying the beer. If you leave them sitting on their side the yeast will settle there such that when you upright them in your fridge the some of the yeast will re-suspend and the beer will be cloudy. This adds a yeasty taste and also acts like a laxative.

If you must store horizontally it would be best to give the bottle a shake to get the yeast stuck to the side of the bottle into suspension and then leave the bottles in your fridge to cold crash the yeast back to the bottom. That should take care of any potential issues you might run into. How long to let them sit I can't be certain and it might just take some experimenting to find out. But I usually let mine sit in the fridge for a good couple days before drinking and notice a big difference than when I am impatient and open them after a day or less.

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The shaking & settling comment is a good idea, but maybe I should make more of an effort to get the bottles vertical. –  Henry Jackson Jun 11 '12 at 18:30
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