One of the lasting lessons I learned from both my father and grandfather was not only the importance of keeping your tools accessible, but also of making sure they were accessible only to you. Each thrived in a workspace that was comprehensible only to them—they knew where everything was in the clutter. I battle exactly the same tendencies—though my desk would never let you know I was battling.
So, why fight the natural course of entropy?
I’ve spoken many times about reducing the level of hobby inertia in our lives. Modern life puts so many demands on all of us. Everywhere we turn, it’s another thing that needs doing before we can brew. “I need to clean the fermentor,” or “Ahhh, it’s 10 a.m. I’ve been feeding the dogs and family, and there’s no time to brew now!”
So, I spent part of our COVID-induced isolation reducing my chaos—starting with the brewing space itself. If that sounds odious and taxing, think of it as present-you doing a solid for future-you by making the brew day easier. Here’s what I did.
First step: Go through everything.
After 21 years of brewing and a decade in my house, there was a ton of junk that had accreted organically. I quickly separated out things that were no good or no longer needed. Stuff that was no good (such as old bad ingredients, expired chemicals, grungy parts not worth the hassle) went straight to the bin. Things that I no longer needed but could still be useable—those went to my homebrew club.
Corollary: Think hard about your process to determine what can go away.
I rarely need carboys these days. So, out went seven different carboys to new fermentation homes. All in all, I gave away carboys, tap towers, old nitro faucets, and more, easily clearing out about a quarter of the brewery.
Second Step: Break out the containers and racks.
I have about 200 square feet of brewing space, and with as much as I do, I need to keep everything well stored. I broke open the penny bank for a set of 30-quart containers, which became general storage for “caramel malts,” “fermentor parts,” etcetera. I also had smaller containers for things such as water salts and grain-storage buckets.
I also sprung for new wire storage racks. These super-functional, movable shelving units have dropped in price, and three of them gave me the ability to squeeze what had taken up a whole wall into a compact cube that I can move around at will. Wire racks also offer plenty of space for hooks for hanging spoons and gloves.