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I live in a 2 up 2 down house, with no cellar, quite draughty windows, and electric storage heaters (these turn on at midnight and begin to "store" heat which in theory is then released through the following day).

In the middle of the house between the two downstairs rooms is a staircase, which has a larder/cupboard underneath. Temperature in here is probably a fairly stable 18°C in winter / 20°C in summer, probably the most stable temperature, but higher than the alternatives.

I have two timber outbuildings – a shed and a summer house – in which the temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day by 10°C, from e.g. 15°C-25°C in summer and e.g. 5°C-15°C in winter (though there will be periods that exceed these ranges).

I have bottled all my beers so far, with fermentation and carbonation happening in the house, before being moved to the shed.

When it comes to storing beer in bottles, what effects will these temperature fluctuations have on the ageing/conditioning of beer? And is it better to store at a steady but higher temperature, or a lower but fluctuating temperature?

  • Considering the circumstances I must suggest the best place to “store” your home brew is in your belly! – freshop Jun 5 '18 at 8:19
  • @freshop there's only so much room in there (although capacity seems to be increasing) – David Liam Clayton Jun 5 '18 at 13:58
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The colder place the better.

Higher temperature will age your beer prematurely, shortening its lifespan. Depending on the style of beer it might be fine to age it a little, but a few styles a better when drank fresh/young. 25°C is too hot the keep the beer for long a period of time.

For instance, your beer might be at its best for one month if stored at 25°C as opposed to 3 months if stored at 15°C. (I did not calculate, it is just to give you an idea).

In your position, I would store it under your staircase during summer, and only move it to the shed in winter if needed (if stored for more than one month). But it all depends on how long the beer will be stored and what style of beer it is.

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I would store it in bottles where ever is convenient and not pay too much attention to temp fluctuations during conditioning. I have many hundreds of bottles of beer conditioning on a regular basis - some remain in the bottle for over 18 months. I cannot put them all in one place - or even an optimal place. So some bottled beers are stored in various "cold", "warm" and "hot" locations. Some years back I did a tasting do see if this variation was noticeable across the same beer conditioned/aged in different storage areas. In general it was difficult to tell between the beers. Blind tasting by friends (and myself!) showed no obvious position/temp/taste correlation. The only thing noted was that the bottled beer improved considerably with time! 3 month beer being better than 2 week beer.

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  • this is comforting to hear. I don't have a lot of options really, I've moved them under the stairs where things are a bit cooler in general, but probably brewing another 10L tomorrow so will need to find a home for that. My plan in the medium term is to brew enough so that some of it will stay in the bottles for longer than a few weeks! – David Liam Clayton Jun 20 '18 at 20:26
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The initial aging process will depend on the type of yeast used on the brewing. If your beer is unfiltered and the yeast is still present in the bottles, the yeast will still be active and metabolizing compounds such as dyacetyl and pentainedione.

Ideally, you would keep the yeast at the optimal fermentation temperature so that they will remain healthy for a few weeks, then cool them for a few days before drinking which will increase the amount of carbonation that dissolves into the solution within the bottle.

If there is no yeast, then it doesn't matter unless its much greater than 25 degrees C. See figure 1.

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